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BREAKING NEWS: Toll Roads and Bridges Report Record Growth in 2015

By: 
Bill Cramer

2015 was a banner year for the 31 U.S. tolling agencies that took part in a survey for IBTTA’s National Toll Facilities Usage Analysis. The five billion trips on tolled facilities represented a 7% increase in volume over 2014—putting the U.S. industry on a pace to double its volume over 10 years.

"Clearly, drivers recognize the benefits of toll roads—the ease of use provided by electronic payment methods, the trip time-saving benefits, and the improved safety that a well-maintained toll facility provides," said IBTTA President Earl J. “Buddy” Croft III, and Executive Director of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA).

"Not only are more people traveling on our roads and bridges, but the increase is significant.”

The IBTTA release generated landmark coverage in USA Today, leading to pickups in at least 50 Gannett newspapers across the country as well as other publications in the U.S and abroad.

Toll Facilities Show Double-Digit Growth

Ten of the 31 agencies participating in the IBTTA survey reported double-digit growth between 2014 and 2015:

·       Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority, FL: 25%

·       North Carolina Department of Transportation: 25%

·       Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, Austin: 23.4%

·       Georgia's State Road and Tollway Authority: 19.6%

·       Washington State Department of Transportation: 16%

·       I-15 Express Lanes, San Diego: 15%

·       495 Express Lanes, Northern Virginia: 15%

·       Northwest Parkway, Broomfield, CO: 13%

·       E-470 Public Highway Authority, Aurora, CO: 12.4%

·       Central Florida Expressway Authority: 10%

All but one of the 31 agencies saw an increase in volume, and about two-thirds—23 out of 31—reported record-breaking years.

Tolling Grows Faster Than the Wider Highway System

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), 2015 was the busiest highway year in U.S. history, with Americans driving 3.1 trillion miles. That was a 3.3% increase over 2014.

"Despite often hearing and reading that people are driving less, the latest traffic volume numbers from the USDOT provide us with a reality check," Croft said. "It's clear that both traffic and travel are up."

But tolling grew at more than twice the rate of the wider system, showing how high a value Americans place on safe, predictable mobility. IBTTA’s figures also point to a fascinating demographic shift, with tolling rapidly gaining public acceptance in regions outside the Northeast.

"While the Northeast U.S. has the longest history with toll roads, 10 toll authorities in the South and West showed the largest increase in trips and transactions," said IBTTA Executive Director and CEO Patrick Jones.

“With electronic tolling, travel on toll roads is more convenient, allowing customers to speed up their daily travel and receive a monthly bill, as they would with any other utility,” the survey report states.

“With more than 37 million electronic tolling accounts and more than 55 million active transponders in use across the U.S. today, customers benefit from free-flowing traffic. That means safer highways, with no more stopping or waiting in long lines to pay the toll.”

For more on the electronic technologies that are driving the tolling revolution, bookmark this page for IBTTA’s 2016 Summit on All-Electronic Tolling, Managed Lanes, and Interoperability, July 24-26, 2016 in Boston.