How To Franchise Highways
Barcelona commuters receive a monthly highway bill, without ever having stopped at a tollbooth. Cars on the Autostrada, which connects Milan, Florence, Rome and Naples, whiz past roadside electronic readers that automatically deduct credit from prepaid smartcards which are similar to the copycards familiar to library users. Electronic toll collection is now used on the Esterel-Cote d'Azur; two toll-ring systems in Norway; the Dallas North Tollway; the Oklahoma Turnpikes; and two facilities in New Orleans. Reliability and accuracy rates run as high as 99.9 per cent. Unless there is successful labour resistance, by the year 2000 electronic toll collection will be operating on every major toll facility in the United States. Stopping at tollbooths will be obsolete for all but the infrequent traveller. The advance in technology is accompanied by a shift in policy. The franchising of highway services is now under way: California has four projects in progress; Virginia, one project; and planning is in hand in many other states. Furthermore, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 will bring a tide of new projects, as it permits the commingling of federal and private funds. Different approaches to franchising have been used. This article investigates the alternatives and proposes a plan for highway franchising.
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