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Cavvie View Drop Down
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    Posted: 27 Jul 2007 at 2:57pm
This is only my second post but I have been reading the converstations on this site for some time. I realize that everyone on this site thinks HOT is bad but we are really preaching to the choir. But unless you get off this web site and into your elected officials faces to stop this toll madness, this is where HOT, and the charging of a toll by a private entity, is taking us, not only here in Northern Virginia, but nationwide.

Once the politicians realize they can abrogate their responsibilities for construction of critical infrastructure and turn this responsibility over to private corporations under the guise of a Public Private Partnership, the concept will be greatly expanded. It will be a slow process so the majority of Americans will never realize it is happening until one day we will all wake up and realized we are paying for every inch of travel on streets and roadways, not only on I-95, but once we simply leave our driveways. This is how it will work. Everyone who wants to drive a vehicle will be required to have/own an electronic transponder EZ-Pass. Once you back out of your driveway you enter a ďPrivate/PublicĒ street turned over to a private contractor by the State and you will be charged by the mile or partial mile. Initially, like all toll roads, this will probably be something relatively cheap, say Ĺ to 1 penny per mile or multiple thereof., say 2 cents per 10 miles. Of course, as a cost of doing business with politicians, the government will still demand a certain percentage of the private companies profits to take over the existing streets. In addition, since these politicians will always have a need to finance their non-transportation pork projects, they will gradually allow the contractor the right to increase this toll ever so slightly much like the Dulles Toll Road and Dulles Greenway. These increases will serve two purposes. First it will provide incentives for more Public Private Partnerships with more corporations to build more toll streets. Secondly, it also increases the flow of additional revenue to the local and state governments to spend on more non-transportation related pork projects. Of course, none of the taxes levied for transportation were ever rescinded, so that revenue continues to flow into state coffers as before but now there will be no requirement to spend it on transportation. An additional bonus to the government is the ability to precisely track their citizens wherever they might go. It also allows the government to monitor/manage their citizenís driving habits, so if you are speeding, they can determine your speed by the transponder and then simply mail you the citation (this capability is already built into the EZPASS when you pass through the toll booth). In addition, if the government doesnít want you to drive on a particular street, they simply increase the toll to say $25 or $30 per mile which effectively closes that street.

This is our future if we as Americanís donít DEMAND our government provide the basic core services such as transportation infrastructure that they must provide to their citizens instead of turning them over to a private non-accountable corporation. Share this narrative with everyone you know and ask them if they donít think this is a plausible scenario. Of course, the politicians will deny and deny that this could ever occur and its just a silly conspiratorial nutty idea. Think of that denial when you are paying to drive on the previously taxpayer funded HOT lanes. Where does it stop? If we as the American public donít stand up to this now, this is the scenario that awaits us all. One day your grandchildren or great grandchildren may be amazed that at one time we could drive anywhere we wanted without having to pay a fee to start our car go to the store or having our very movement monitored by the government. If you doubt this scenario, then all I ask if that you save this posting. That way in 25 years or so you can say you at least werenít warned in 2007. I don't intend to complain about HOT lanes on this web site. I'm going to personally hand my Delegate this scenario and demand he stop it or lose his job in the next election. Whose with me?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cavvie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jan 2009 at 11:08pm
Seems the idea of public private partnerships and toll lanes is being expanded just as I predicted a year and a half ago. But the government has gotten creative and realized they don't need a contractor to charge you a toll to use our streets. They can cut the contractor out of the middle and go straight to your wallet themselves and keep all that money. The following article titled "Motorists habits spur calls for a tax increase" appeared today on WTOP, an excerpt of which stated:

"A federal commission created by Congress to find a way to make up the growing revenue shortfall in the program that funds highway repairs and construction is talking about increasing federal gas and diesel taxes."

Knowing how unpopular that would be in these tough economic times, this "esteemed" panel seems to have stolen my idea on taxing the mindless sheep that we are for the mere privilege of driving to the corner. The article goes on to state the following:

"According to a draft of the financing commission's recommendations, the nation needs to move to a new system that taxes motorists according to how much they use roads. While details have not been worked out, such a system would mean equipping every car and truck with a device that uses global positioning satellites and transponders to record how many miles the vehicle has been driven, and perhaps the type of roads and time of day."

Think this can't happen? They are doing a test of just this system now in Oregon with 300 motorists according to an article by the Associated Press titled "Oregon looks at taxing mileage instead of gasoline". And to help us ease into that steaming pot to be boiled alive, initially this fee wouldn't be much according to our great leaders, hardily even noticeable. Maybe 1/4 of a penny per mile and maybe just a little more during peak rush hours. Just enough to fund some infrastructure improvements, right? Of course, like most of these funds, they are collected for one purpose and spent on something completely different and then steadily raised whenever the politicians need a little more spending money. I thought it might take 25 years, but our politicans are more resourceful than we think when it comes to ideas on how to get more money out of our pockets. They've even cut the private contractor out and will now track us directly with GPS built in to our cars. Of course, they won't use it for any nefarious means like determining which of their citizens drives where and when. After all they're the government and they're here to help right?

It amazes me that they want to tax us when we use too much fuel in an effort to get us to conserve, and now that we aren't using enough they want to tax us for using too little. But then again, we keep electing the same people over and over again, so they begin to feel that they can do whatever they want to us and we'll thank them and ask for another.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ybarra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jan 2009 at 9:33pm
I believe you are all over the top on this. My opinion is posted below:


HOT Lanes Will Bring Congestion Relief to Northern Virginia
Toll lanes will mean more opportunities for carpooling and slugs
By Shirley Ybarra


Traffic congestion in Northern Virginia is the second worst in the country, and infrastructure improvements are long overdue. The enactment of the Public-Private Transportation Act in 1995 enabled Virginia's Department of Transportation (VDOT) to partner with private investors in order to improve infrastructure. Public-private partnerships can enable VDOT to improve infrastructure sooner than if they relied on their shrinking budget alone. Thanks to this private investment, construction is already taking place on the high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes that will bring much needed congestion relief to the Capital Beltway and the I-95/395 corridor. While the construction will make it challenging to get around in the short term, the result will be the biggest improvement to the Northern Virginia transportation system in decades.

What are HOT lanes?

HOT lanes operate right beside existing highway lanes and offer users a much faster trip. Carpools with three or more people in the car (HOV 3), van pools, buses and motorcycles travel for free on the HOT lanes. Drivers traveling alone or with only one other person have a choice: They can stay in the existing free lanes or pay a toll to travel faster in the HOT lanes. Tolls are based on real time traffic conditions. When traffic is heaviest the tolls are the highest. This variable toll pricing (also known as congestion pricing) limits the number of vehicles entering the HOT lanes, to keep them free flowing at the maximum speed allowed. The EZ Pass toll system allows drivers to pay tolls and enter the lanes without slowing down; there will be no toll booths.

Based on experience in other states, most drivers do not use the toll lanes every day. They use the HOT lanes when they need a faster or more reliable travel time - to pick the kids up at daycare, make a meeting, or catch a flight, for example. Research on Southern California's 91 Express Lanes, the first HOT lanes in the US, shows that more than 30 percent of the drivers from households earning $40,000 a year use the HOT lanes occasionally.

Two Virginia Projects that will make a difference

The Beltway HOT lane project will add two HOT lanes in each direction on the 13 mile Beltway in Virginia. In addition, over 50 bridges and overpasses will be replaced; two new interchanges will be added, and bike lanes will be installed adjacent to the Beltway. Construction is underway on this project. Upon completion, drivers will have the option of using the HOT lanes or using the existing lanes. In addition, commuters will also have the option of taking a bus because the added capacity of the HOT lanes and free-flowing traffic will allow buses to operate on fast, reliable schedules - possibly luring people out of their cars.

The second project, the I-95/395 HOT lanes project, is currently under development and negotiation between VDOT and the private sector. This project will expand existing carpool lanes from two to three lanes, and extend them 28 miles south from Arlington county to Spotsylvania county, creating 56-miles of HOV lanes from Arlington to Spotsylvania counties. Vehicles carrying three or more people, motorcycles, buses and emergency vehicles will be able to use the HOT lanes free of charge, while others can choose to use them for a congestion-based toll, as on the Beltway.

Certain types of carpoolers, called "slugs," are concerned about the new HOT lanes in the I-95/395 corridor. Slugs are people who leave their cars in park-and-ride lots and stand in line to join others to create a carpool that can drive in the HOV3 lanes. Some slugs worry that the addition of the HOT lanes will interrupt their unique system of carpooling. My view is quite to the contrary. If anything, the HOT lanes will expand the population of sluggers.

As currently envisioned, the project will add 6,700 new parking spaces to the park-and-ride lots. As more parking spaces are added, there will be more opportunities for sluggers to park their own cars and create a carpool. Right now, slugging typically occurs only on the commute to the Pentagon and into and out of DC. The combined projects will add more locations for slugging; as a result, we may see sluggers on their way to the Tyson's Corner area and certainly to the new Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) locations along the I-95/395 corridor.

These HOT lanes projects will result in much needed congestion relief in Northern Virginia. The slugs should embrace these improvements rather than fearing any changes. The concerns of the sluggers are being taken seriously by the private sector and VDOT as they add park and ride lots, additional spaces and BRAC entrances and exits for the HOT lanes. And most importantly, whatever the slugs think, the large-scale congestion relief these new lanes will bring to Northern Virginia should be welcomed by all.

Shirley Ybarra is a senior transportation policy analyst at Reason Foundation. She previously served as Virginia's Secretary of Transportation.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote n/a Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jan 2009 at 3:14pm
***Propaganda Alert***

I don't dispute the area's traffic problems nor will I challenge the rising highway maintainence costs, nor the challenges of getting to and from work each day. But don't confuse these issues with one simple fact: HOT lanes take something that was fast, effective and free and changes it to slower, marginally effective and expensive.

The most important part of this is that HOV lanes are free for travel to carpoolers and off-peak commuters, HOT lanes are not! So let's split the hairs here: much has been made of a provision that HOT lanes will be free for carpoolers. How will the HOT admins decide if a car is HOV/free, and what happens when carpooling exceeds the maximum volume allowed (I think, 25%)? We will pay the HOT contractor with tax subsidies! Care to challenge that Ybarra?

HOT lanes will be slower (speeds are only "guaranteed" to be 55MPH), marginally effective (more cars in the lanes = more traffic congestion = slower and less effective traffic movement), and will cost taxpayers millions in contruction contributions, will cost off-peak SOV commuters, and will cost taxpayers when carpooling increases.

Commuting options? Don't forget that every dollar spent on traveling SOV in the HOT lanes is a dollar taken out of local economies, and out of the local tax base. HOT fares will ultimately lead to less consumer discretionary money to spend with local businesses, and the need for higher % sales taxes for the remaining local revenues generated, OR less local public services. ALL WHILE OUR HOT TOLLS/TAXES FLY OFF TO AUSTRALIA TO HELP THE HOT CONTRACTOR GET RICH! Sounds like less options to me!

Ybarra has a financial interest in selling this! She works for a PIRG that has been hired to promote this. VDOT contracting officers have to do this to make themselves look good to their bosses so they can get their raises (because they can't balance their books otherwise)!

Don't buy into the rhetoric! We have been sold up a river!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote n/a Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jan 2009 at 3:31pm
quote:
Originally posted by Cavvie

"...such a system would mean equipping every car and truck with a device that uses global positioning satellites and transponders to record how many miles the vehicle has been driven, and perhaps the type of roads and time of day."

It amazes me that they want to tax us when we use too much fuel in an effort to get us to conserve, and now that we aren't using enough they want to tax us for using too little.



This is a scary article Cavvie! But totally believable and your reasoning is undeniable! This is so similar to what is happening with the HOT lanes: years ago we were encouraged to carpool (remember?). And we did! Now thousands of commuters carpool via dedicated lanes to and from DC, reducing fuel consumption, traffic congestion and pollution. Horray! Now VDOT is saying that we should be able to pay for the luxury to drive our cars SOV, and snub the ecologists (all while we are paying for access to a highway that used to be free)! What a mixed message! VDOT has addressed only one part of a complex issue, they have opted to hijack taxpayers into helping them out of their fiscal mess! Screw the environment, what's all this fuss about fossil fuel consumption? Let our children deal with global warming, as long as we make our budget this year!

HOT is highway robbery! HOT is eco-terrorism! HOT is bad politics!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cavvie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jan 2009 at 4:35pm
Ms Ybarra,

There is no "REASONING" with you because it is apparent by your actions while Secretary of Transportation and current association with a specific unnamed organization that you believe that private industry will self-regulate wisely and efficiently and will act only in the best interest of the traveling public, i.e., the taxpayer. Of course that theory has received quite a battering during the last 9+ months what with everything happening with Wall Street, real estate, and the auto industry now requiring government intervention. And it seems to have failed miserably despite what Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin, and others devoutly believed. It seems libertarian ideas have taken a beating lately, huh? So let's discuss your concept of private-public partnerships, and since VDOT won't listen to anyone in Northern Virginia, maybe my fellow slugs can join in this posting and let's debate the true merits of HOT lanes. Let's get this started with just a few of many, many examples:

Maybe you can explain if public-private partnerships are so wonderful and private financing of public projects is such a magnificent libertarian idea to get government out of the transportation business, then why is VDOT providing several hundred million dollars of support money to Fluor Daniels and Transurban to rebuild bridges and overpasses on the beltway project? Doesn't sound so private now does it? Oh, and before you trot out the tired VDOT line about the bridges and overpasses being structurally unsafe, explain why only the bridges and overpasses on the HOT portion of the beltway are unsafe.

Maybe you can explain why VDOT was so adamant about not listening to anything the public had to say about HOT lanes during their so-called "public" meetings?

Maybe you can explain why the contract with Fluor Daniels and Transurban was signed despite the contractor not being able to provide specific technical solutions to serious shortcomings, i.e., how can you discern a HOV vehicle with three or more people from the HOT vehicles with a single driver, etc.?

Maybe if you bother to read anybody else's posting, you will see that our concern is not with HOV being eliminated by the contractor or by VDOT. News flash - we know that neither the contractor nor VDOT can eliminate HOV so stop using that as justification to continue with HOT support. REMEMBER THIS. OUR CONCERN IS THAT HOV, A FORM OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION NOT REQUIRING ANY PUBLIC FUNDING, WILL NOW BE TOTALLY RELIANT ON FUNDING BY RICHMOND, AND RICHMOND CAN NOW MAKE HOV CEASE BY ELIMINATING THAT VERY SAME FUNDING. Of course, once that occurs, you and others like you will be nowhere to be found. You of all people should know that HOV funding can be eliminated as a result of budget deficits or even eliminated at the request of the contractor if they make big enough political contributions to Richmond. Of course, if you were and are, so concerned about the welfare of slugs and HOV as you profess, then you would have ensured when you were Secretary of Transportation that HOV funding on HOT lanes would be sustained by Richmond in support of improved transportation in Northern Virginia no matter what. But you did not, because you could not, and that is what worries the HOV community. The day all the Delegates and Senators in Richmond promise to never, ever eliminate funding for HOV on the HOT lanes is the day you may garner some support for HOT. Until then, you have no authority to say that HOV will be free and REMAIN FREE because you have no control over the funding stream, only the politicians do. And it is the politicians in Richmond that we all fear in Northern Virginia. I'm afraid I won't drink the Kool-Aid quite so readily as others have.

And if I'm so over the top on expanding tolls to include every street, then deny that there is a test being performed in Oregon, as we speak, that will charge drivers a fee, per mile driven. Deny that each driver will allow the government to track their vehicle by road driven, time of day, locations, etc. Deny the Associated Press and WTOP reports that a federal commission has suggested that instead of a gas tax, every driver pay a toll based on the amount of miles driven and obtained with a transponder built into the vehicle? That's not exactly a libertarian concept last time I checked. Or can libertarian values be compromised when there is a profit to be made? Maybe under the guise of public private partnerships, with which you are so enamored, private companies from Australia or even China can provide this service more efficiently than the government too? Of course eventually this wide spread tolling will occur, but it is the job of libertarian talking heads to distract everyone long enough by denying that such an outrageous idea could ever take place while at the same time these very concepts can be implemented in the background with little or no public input.

I can go on and on but I'll leave it up to the slug community to provide other examples, despite your protestations, that prove that public private partnerships are merely a way to relieve government of their responsibilities to provide basic core services to their constituents under the guise of private entities being able to do a better job more efficiently. And in the meantime, the same politicians can continue to collect the taxes used to support such endeavors in the past and now feel free to spend them on other pork projects. Of course, good thing Lehman Brothers or AIG wasn't given the contract for the HOT lanes, but then again maybe they could always claim to be too big to fail and ask for a government hand out. I donít care for nor will I accept government intervention or regulation until I am on the verge of bankruptcy, at which point Iíll take all the government intervention, i.e., money, without any regulation. Now there's some reason for you.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote n/a Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jan 2009 at 1:25pm
This discussion, about the expansion of road tolls, and specifically of how those tolls will be collected (via EZ Pass), makes me think of something I read about the government monitoring our "comings and goings" as a step toward communism. A quick internet search returned this article from the Hudson Institute
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote n/a Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jan 2009 at 1:31pm
continuing... A quick internet search returned this article from the Hudson Institute "FISA Is the Government's Responsibility," where the author states, "Those who would harm us... watch our comings and goings..."

And goes on to discuss how the government is looking to private businesses to provide insulation from its responsibility to protect ech citiczen's privacy. "Some in Congress want private parties, particularly deep-pocketed corporations, to be liable for the excesses and mistakes of the federal government under FISA." "By shifting liability away from the federal government for its actions, the federal government is emboldened to exceed its authority. A reasonable government official need not worry about exceeding legal authority if a private entity will be held liable."

While this discussion is about terrorism, these discussions apply to invasion of privacy issues in general, especially considering how many rights citizens have given up (without even knowing) in the name of national security. Interesting reading: The Patriot Act.

http://www.hudson.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=publication_details&id=5271&pubType=NatSecurity
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cavvie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Feb 2009 at 1:30pm
The following article from WTOP. Pretty soon big brother will not only charge you for every mile driven, but also have a pretty convenient GPS record to show where you are at all times.

Massachusetts may consider a mileage charge
February 17, 2009 - 9:58am

By GLEN JOHNSON
Associated Press Writer

BOSTON (AP) - A tentative plan to overhaul Massachusetts' transportation system by using GPS chips to charge motorists a quarter-cent for every mile behind the wheel has angered some drivers.

"It's outrageous, it's kind of Orwellian, Big Brotherish," said Sen. Scott Brown, R-Wrentham, who drafted legislation last week to prohibit the practice. "You'd need a whole new department of cronies just to keep track of it."

But a "Vehicle Miles Traveled" program like the one the governor may unveil this week has already been tested _ with positive results _ in Oregon.

Governors in Idaho and Rhode Island, as well as the federal government, also are talking about such programs. And in North Carolina, a panel suggested in December the state start charging motorists a quarter-cent for every mile as a substitute for the gas tax.

"The Big Brother issue was identified during the first meeting of the task force that developed our program," said Jim Whitty, who oversees innovation projects for the Oregon Department of Transportation. "Everything we did from that point forward, even though we used electronics, was to eliminate those concerns."

A draft overhaul transport plan prepared for Gov. Deval Patrick says implementing a Vehicle Miles Traveled system to replace the gas tax makes sense. "A user-based system, collected electronically, is a fair way to pay for our transportation needs in the future," it says.

Patrick, who had yet to settle on any of the ideas contained in the draft, told reporters last week, "I like any idea that is faster, cheaper, simpler."

The idea behind the program is simple: As cars become more fuel efficient or powered by electricity, gas tax revenues decline. Yet the cost of building and maintaining roads and bridges is increasing. A state could cover that gap by charging drivers precisely for the mileage their vehicles put on public roads.

"There needs to be a new way of thinking about, `How do we pay for all of this?'" said Richard Dimino, president of A Better City, a business-friendly group that considers transportation issues.

"One of the ways is thinking about the automobile like a utility: When we turn on our automobile and use it, we would be charged like we do when we turn on the lights and we start using electricity."

In Oregon, the state paid volunteers who let the transportation department install GPS receivers in 300 vehicles. The device did not transmit a signal _ which would allow real-time tracking of a driver's movements _ but instead passively received satellite pings telling the receiver where it was in terms of latitude and longitude coordinates.

The state used those coordinates to determine when the vehicle was driving both within Oregon and outside the state. And it measured the respective distances through a connection with the vehicle's odometer.

When a driver pulled into a predetermined service station, the pump linked electronically with the receiver, downloaded the number of miles driven in Oregon and then charged the driver a fee based on the distance. The gas tax they would have paid was reduced by the amount of the user fee. Drivers continued to be charged gas tax for miles driven outside Oregon.

Under such systems, one of which is already used in London, drivers are charged more for entering a crowded area during rush hour than off-peak periods.

"What the mileage charge does, if it's structured properly, is simply charge for the basic responsibility of people to pay for the amount of wear they put on the state's roads," said Whitty, whose state is still considering the mechanics of broadening the program.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pele Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Feb 2009 at 7:55am
^
So glad I drive an older vehicle without all sort of electronics.


And this would bill visitors to the state how? Visitors are using the roads as well.

My truck is a 4x4. Sometimes I go offroading. Yet I'm still going to rack up mileage in state, while not on a public road...

I'd rather just pay the 18Ę/gal fuel tax and be done with it.

To think someone who earns a higher paycheck than most of us thought of that bill... And even scarier, a population thought it good to elect them into power.

I fear for the future.
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