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Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing - 2011-2018 FHWA Webinar Series

FHWA, 2018

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Offices of Operations and Center for Innovative Finance Support have launched a new webinar series, entitled "Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing." These webinars have been developed for state and local agencies that are implementing or would like to implement congestion pricing; decision-makers/political leaders who want to better understand the benefits of congestion pricing; metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) that may be interested in incorporating pricing into their planning activities; and others who just want to learn more about congestion pricing strategies.

FHWA's Toll Facilities in the United States Report

FHWA, March 2018

Information on tolling activity at the state and local levels is providing in FHWA's Toll Facilities in the United States report. It contains selected information on U.S. toll facilities that has been provided to FHWA by the States and/or various toll authorities. The report identifies toll facilities in operation, financed, or under construction as of January 1, 2015. The report is based on voluntary responses received biennially and may have inconsistencies, omissions, or errors.

Congestion Pricing: A Primer on Institutional Issues

FHWA, March 2013

Implementing congestion pricing projects requires a combination of good planning, proven technical capabilities, and reliable day-to-day operations. Equally important is the ability to work through the myriad of institutional issues that can arise at any point in the process. Congestion pricing projects are different from many other transportation projects: they represent a new way of managing travel demand; they require daily, hourly, or even constant monitoring; and they deal explicitly with money. All of these factors produce an inordinate amount of attention by decision-makers, the media, and the public.

This Primer explores a range of institutional issues that have arisen on congestion pricing projects throughout the United States and Europe. These issues were examined through interviews with practitioners, an FHWA-sponsored webinar, and a peer exchange. This research has identified the following institutional issues:

  • Leadership - Project champions, roles and responsibilities
  • Legislative - Enabling legislation, political structure
  • Organization - Internal and external structures, interagency agreements
  • Planning Process - Setting objectives, agency coordination, setting policies, developing the plan
  • Public Involvement - Outreach strategies, gaining public support, marketing
  • Managing Costs and Revenues - Cost sharing, allocation of revenues
  • Implementation - Construction and roll-out, day-to-day operations

FHWA Guide for Priced Managed Lane Development

FHWA, October 2012

This Guide is intended to be a comprehensive source of collective experience gained from priced managed lanes implemented in the United States through 2012. The Guide presents a wide range of information on priced managed lanes. The purpose of this Guide is to assist transportation professionals as they consider, plan, and implement priced managed lanes projects.

The Priced Managed Lane Guide also updates the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) 2003 Guide for HOT Lane Development. At the time the earlier Guide was written, there were only four priced managed lane facilities operating in the United States and few transportation professionals had firsthand experience with implementing or operating these facilities. As of May 2012, there are 14 operating managed lane facilities nationwide, an additional 14 in construction, and approximately 25 others in planning.

The Guide addresses a wide range of policy, outreach, and technical issues associated with the implementation of priced managed lanes, focusing on the knowledge and experience gained from the new projects that have advanced in the past decade. The Guide also provides detailed profiles of 21 priced managed lane projects that are either operational or nearing completion. These resources represent the most comprehensive compilation of data and information prepared by FHWA on priced managed lanes to date.

Operations Performance Measures: The Foundation for Performance-Based Management of Transportation Operations Programs

FHWA, May 2012

This Guide describes how applying performance management principles to highway operations will help improve the effectiveness of operations programs. Traditionally, planning and analysis focuses on the front end of projects, they are implemented, but practitioners rarely go back to see how they perform. In a customer-focused environment, however, it is critical to evaluate constantly how well services are being delivered, and to devise ways to improve delivery.

A performance management approach enables us to not only detect problems but also to learn from our successes and failures in dealing with them. It also provides an early warning of emerging problems. Making more effective investment decisions is even more critical today because of the strained financial environment transportations agencies face.

Effective Approaches for Advancing Congestion Pricing in a Metropolitan Region

FHWA, March 2012

This primer is intended to raise awareness among staff at MPOs and their partner agencies about the potential role of congestion pricing in supporting regional goals as well as the most effective approaches for advancing congestion pricing strategies in a region. It draws upon lessons learned from pilot and ongoing programs implemented around the United States as well as efforts to integrate congestion pricing into regional transportation plans. The content of the primer is based on discussions that took place at four peer to peer-to-peer practitioner workshops organized by FHWA in September 2011. Using illustrative case studies, this primer provides information on effective approaches for addressing the challenges of advancing congestion pricing in a regional context, including: (i) building public and decision-maker acceptability; (ii) linking congestion pricing to regional goals and objectives; (iii) achieving interagency collaboration; (iv) analyzing congestion pricing impacts as part of the planning process; and (v) addressing implementation challenges and sustaining user support. The primer ends with recommendations of initial steps that planners, policymakers, and others can take in developing comprehensive regional congestion pricing plans, while maximizing the chances of acceptance from the public and decision-makers.

Center for Innovative Finance Support Road Pricing Public Acceptance and Outreach 2010 Webinars

FHWA, 2010

This three-part webinar prepared series prepared by Center for Innovative Finance Support Road Pricing staff will provide tools to transportation professionals to help them gain an understanding in public acceptance issues for congestion pricing as well as strategies to help address them. It is a practitioner hands on course on road pricing and public acceptance. Resources developed for the webinar series will be posted on the Center for Innovative Finance Support Road Pricing website as they become available. They include the presentations discussed during the webinars, together with audio recordings and transcripts of the webinars themselves. The first webinar was held on August 24, 2010.

Assessing the Full Costs of Congestion on Surface Transportation Systems and Reducing Them Through Pricing

USDOT, February 2009

The Office of the Secretary of Transportation at the United States Department of Transportation (US DOT) commissioned this 2009 study to assess the cost of surface transportation congestion from a national perspective. This study summarizes various congestion pricing strategies, and estimates the national costs of road congestion pricing including costs that have received much less study. These potential costs relate to safety, pollution from vehicle emissions, indirect costs in reduced business productivity, vehicle operating costs other than fuel cost, and reliability of travel time. In addition to costs, estimated welfare gains from comprehensive congestion pricing on our nation's urban roads are presented.

FHWA Operations Support - Port Peak Pricing Program Evaluation

FHWA, January 2009

In response to the fast growth of international waterborne container trade and freight transportation demand in the United States over the last two decades, a number of ports and intermodal terminals are considering peak-period truck pricing strategies to manage demand. The Office of Freight Management and Operations at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) conducted an evaluation of the applicability of this strategy, as modeled at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles via the PierPASS OffPeak program. The goals of this program included: reducing peak-period congestion, improving terminal operating efficiencies, reducing truck wait and idle times, improving air quality and reducing community impacts. In addition to analyzing the PierPASS OffPeak Program, this 2009 program evaluation also assessed key port market characteristics to be considered in evaluating feasibility of port peak pricing programs, institutional issues, policy implications at the federal level, and possible public and private sector roles related to peak pricing strategies at other ports and intermodal facilities in the U.S.

A Review of HOV Lane Performance and Policy Options in the United States

FHWA, December 2008

This 2008 report, prepared for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), describes the operational performance of the nation's HOV lanes in at least ten different states through surveys and in-depth interviews with facility owners and operators. The report includes a policy options evaluation tool for underperforming facilities to help owners consider a range of potential HOV lane policies, such as changing occupancy requirements or managed lane pricing, and potential impacts. The report concludes with characteristics and lessons learned that increase the chances for successful implementation of HOV lane policy changes.

A Compendium of Existing HOV Lane Facilities in the United States

FHWA, December 2008

Although high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes do not generate revenue, these facilities may serve as potential candidates for high occupancy toll (HOT) lane conversion. A compendium of HOV facilities in the United States was prepared for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in 2008 with the intent of documenting basic characteristics of all current and proposed HOV lanes in the nation. Summary information for all facilities is documented, in addition to individual facility characteristics related to geographic location, infrastructure, policy and utilization.

Examining the Speed-Flow-Delay Paradox in the Washington, DC Region: Potential Impacts of Reduced Traffic on Congestion Delay and Potential for Reductions in Discretionary Travel during Peak Periods

FHWA, December 2008

Highway studies have determined that once traffic volumes exceed the capacity of the roadway, the system can rapidly "break down" where all traffic slows and the capacity and throughput of the roadway drops significantly. This 2008 study, prepared for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), examines traffic volumes, speeds, and delays at various freeway traffic counters in the Washington, D.C. region. Congested versus uncongested travel is examined and the "tipping point(s)" at which free-flow traffic "breaks down" is identified, in addition to the volume of traffic that would need to be reduced in peak periods to keep traffic free-flowing. The study also examines survey data to estimate the number and percent of trips that people take in peak hours on freeways that are discretionary trips and reviews empirical findings from congestion pricing experience in the U.S. and abroad.

Roadway Network Productivity Assessment: System-Wide Analysis Under Variant Travel Demand

FHWA, November 2008

An examination of the hypothesis that 'the system-wide productivity of a metropolitan freeway system in peak periods is higher in moderate travel demand conditions than in excessive travel demand conditions' is documented in this 2008 study prepared for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The study characterizes system-wide productivity by aggregating link-level speed and traffic volume data, utilizing 2007 Los Angeles and Chicago traffic flow and speed data from the Urban Congestion Report (UCR) databases in addition to other archives of incident, work zone, and weather data to identify underlying conditions related to congestion patterns and bottleneck locations in the network. The study suggests that higher system-level productivity and efficiency can be achieved when travel demand is closely matched with overall system capacity, resulting in reduced freeway breakdown conditions. Demand management through pricing or other mechanisms are also discussed as a means to recover daily drops in freeway system productivity when traffic flow breaks down on congested highways.

Value Pricing Pilot Program: Lessons Learned

FHWA, August 2008

This 2008 report, prepared for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides lessons learned from twenty-four projects sponsored by FHWA's Congestion and Value Pricing Pilot Program from 1991 through 2006. A synthesis of project experience is provided, drawing upon six major categories of pricing strategies. These include: high occupancy toll (HOT) lane conversions with pricing, variable pricing on new express lanes, variable pricing on existing toll facilities, region-wide variable pricing initiatives, making driver costs variable, and other pricing projects. For each project category, impacts (related to congestion reduction, performance, cost/revenues, energy, environment, and equity), implementation and operational details, evaluation, lessons learned and implications for planners and managers at the federal, state and local level are identified.

Lessons Learned From International Experience in Congestion Pricing

FHWA, August 2008

Drawing upon international experience in congestion pricing, this report provides a summary of selected operational area wide congestion pricing projects, focusing on three comprehensive area wide projects in Singapore, London, and Stockholm. Completed in 2008 for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), this report offers valuable, in-depth observations during the planning, design, implementation, and operational phases for U.S. cities that are beginning to examine similar area wide pricing strategies to address congestion, environmental, energy and funding problems in heavily congested downtown areas. In addition, this report also includes a summary of available overseas literature on projects outside of the three areas of focus, including information on equity, economic impacts, and the acceptability of congestion pricing.

Highway Community Exchange: Value Pricing

FHWA, 2008

The Highway Community Exchange provides an online forum developed by the Federal Highway Administration, specifically for knowledge exchange on value pricing issues. The website includes discussion threads, references related to projects and briefings, works in progress, and a directory of key contacts from various industry and governmental agencies.

Exploring a New Congestion Pricing Concept: Focus Group Findings from Northern Virginia and Philadelphia

FHWA, November 2007

In support of the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) national strategy to reduce congestion on America's transportation network, this report was prepared for the Office of Natural and Human Environment and Office of Transportation Management at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in 2007. This exploratory study attempts to understand the attitudes about congestion pricing through focus groups convened in Northern Virginia and Philadelphia. Participants included business owners and managers, owners and managers of shipping and transportation logistics firms, and the general public. Through these focus groups, valuable feedback was obtained on specific congestion pricing scenarios and any concerns regarding congestion pricing.

A Guide for HOT Lane Development

FHWA, December 2002

This guide, prepared for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is the result of a two-year collaborative effort, which benefited from the input of a wide range of transportation professionals with first-hand experience in high occupancy toll (HOT) projects. It is intended to be a comprehensive source of collective experience gained from the nation's current and implemented HOT lane projects to assist transportation professionals considering specific projects as well as others who wish to become more informed on the topic. The guide addresses a wide range of policy and technical issues associated with HOT lanes, and includes case studies of four existing HOT lane facilities as well as two recent HOT lane studies that are indicative of current trends in HOT lane development.

Congestion Pricing Primer Series


The Congestion Pricing Primer Series is part of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) outreach efforts to introduce congestion pricing, its rationale, and associated technical issues related to implementation for decision-makers and transportation professionals in the United States.

  • Congestion Pricing Overview
    This overview primer explains the concept of congestion pricing, benefits, and examples of congestion pricing approaches implemented in the U.S. and abroad. Federal aid policy and programs related to tolling and pricing are also introduced.
  • Non-Toll Pricing
    Forms of congestion pricing that do not involve tolls but that are still aimed at creating more efficient pricing mechanisms for automobile use are described in this primer. Some examples of non-toll pricing include but are not limited to: parking cash-out, variably priced metered parking, car sharing, and variable port access charges for trucks.
  • Technologies That Enable Congestion Pricing
    This primer considers the functional processes for tolling and congestion pricing, what technologies are there to consider, how technologies can be applied and examples of application, and what technologies make enable congestion pricing to work better in the future.
  • Technologies That Complement Congestion Pricing
    Complementary technologies extend the benefits of congestion-pricing strategies to those directly and indirectly affected, improve public acceptance of congestion-pricing strategies, and improve the value of existing travel options available to individuals by supporting a traveler's decision to change travel time, mode or route. This primer considers how technology complements congestion pricing, existing technologies to consider, how they can be applied, and examples of applications to retrofit congestion pricing on an existing facility.
  • Transit and Congestion Pricing
    This primer examines the interrelationships between congestion pricing and transit operations and use. Types of strategies and lessons learned that are discussed cover variably priced lanes, variable tolls on roadways, zone-based (cordon or area) pricing, area-wide pricing, and parking-pricing strategies.
  • Economics: Pricing, Demand, and Economic Efficiency
    This primer describes the underlying rationale for congestion pricing and how it can be used to promote economic efficiency. It lays out the basic theory of travel demand and traffic flow and shows how inefficient pricing of the road network helps create an economic loss to society, as well as the means by which this can be alleviated through pricing.
  • Income-Based Equity Impacts of Congestion Pricing
    This primer examines the impacts of congestion pricing on low-income groups, public opinion as expressed by various income groups, and ways to mitigate the equity impacts of congestion pricing.

One Page Briefs


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides a number of one page briefs explaining various issues related to electronic tolling and congestion pricing. These issues include:

  • Equity
  • Environmental Benefits
  • Benefits (Time Savings and Throughput)
  • Safety
  • Examples Around the U.S.
  • Examples Around the World
  • Leveraging
  • Public Private Partnership

Articles in FHWA's Public Roads

  • Congestion Pricing With Lane Reconfigurations To Add Highway Capacity
    In this article, efforts by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to explore innovative ideas for combining congestion pricing and active traffic management as a means to expand highway capacity are described.
  • High-Performance Highways
    Of particular interest to congestion experts at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is a concept known as high-performance highways, which involves applying variable tolls on all lanes of existing tollways and toll-free facilities to manage traffic flow. Tolls would vary by level of demand, either on a fixed schedule by time of day (such as in half-hour blocks) or in real time (such as every few minutes, if necessary) and would be charged only on congested highway segments to manage traffic flow. The article explains the high-performance concept, implementation of the concept, transit advantages, costs, benefits, and revenues of high performance highways. Addressing and gaining public acceptance is also discussed in addition to urban partnerships.
  • Partners In Time
    This article features the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Congestion Pricing Initiative and a major component being Urban Partnership Agreements. The article discusses USDOT plans to join with up to five metropolitan areas, or Urban Partners, to demonstrate proven strategies for reducing traffic congestion.
  • Managed Lanes
    As the level of traffic continues to grow in highway facilities, this article discusses how combining access control, vehicle eligibility, and pricing strategies can help mitigate congestion and improve mobility on the nation's busiest roadways. Benefits and implementation of these strategies are described in further detail, drawing upon case examples from San Diego and Orange County, California.
  • Paying the Value Price
    This article features market-based strategies as a promising alternative to managing current and future congestion. Examples of projects for the following value-pricing strategies are also provided: new tolls on existing toll-free facilities, variable tolls on new lanes, variable tolls on toll facilities, and usage-based vehicle charges.

Report On The Value Pricing Pilot Program


This report updates activities documented previously in the "Report to Congress on the Value Pricing Pilot Program through March 2004," and it is the first report to Congress subsequent to the passage of SAFETEA-LU. Like earlier reports, it illustrates pricing impact and success in affecting driver behavior, and it delineates individual state participants, projects, and further data sources on the extent and nature of the program. Specific projects implemented since March 2004 and discussed in this report include: 1-394 MnPASS in Minnesota, Illinois Tollway System Pricing, and the Pay-As-You-Drive Demonstration in Minnesota. Lessons learned for each project are outlined along with key methods of outreach, coordination of tolling and pricing programs, and next steps for advancing value pricing in the U.S.

The Selective Use of Shadow Tolls in the United States


The purpose of this report is to explore the policy implications to states of financing highway construction and maintenance using "shadow tolls," per vehicle payments made to a facility operator by a third party such as a sponsoring governmental entity. This is a follow up study to an earlier research dating from 1995. This study includes an overview of shadow tolling experience in Great Britain reviewing, a comparison of shadow tolls to other highway finance model, and the advantages and disadvantages of the shadow tolling concept. The report also explores the applicability of shadow toll projects in the United States.

Value Pricing Pilot Program Archived Quarterly Program Reports


Quarterly reports are provided on this website with the most current Value Pricing Pilot Program information. The reports include a description of nine types of pricing projects that have been funded under the program and a list of funded projects with project descriptions under each category. Details of when project funds were awarded, anticipated project completion date, a project update for the quarter and project contact information are also provided for those that wish to seek additional information.

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