Deployment of freeway congestion pricing system in 5 major U.S. metropolitan areas estimated to cost $1.8 billion

13-17 January 2008

Summary Information

Growing congestion on metropolitan highway networks poses a substantial threat to the U.S. economy and to the quality of life of millions of Americans. Congestion pricing – sometimes called value pricing – can relieve this congestion and restore traffic flow efficiency on freeway networks by reducing rush hour vehicular travel demand. To assist this matter, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) proposed the idea of high performance highways where lanes on existing freeways are converted into premium service free flowing freeways. Under these new "high performance highways", all vehicles except authorized buses and certified vanpool vehicles would be charged a variable toll set high enough to guarantee that high demand will not cause a breakdown of traffic flow at any time.

This approach would be applied in the five most congested U.S. metropolitan areas: Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, and Atlanta.

Highway Costs:

To estimate capital costs for toll collection, an "open road" electronic toll collection system was assumed, with toll gantries installed at 5-mile intervals. Capital costs were annualized and combined with annual operating costs for tolling and traffic management. Results are presented below:
Los Angeles
San Francisco
Annualized capital cost for tolling (millions)
Annual cost for operations (millions)
Total Annual Costs (millions)

Transit and Park-and-Ride Subsidy Costs:

The express bus system would need to have the capability to carry all travelers who would shift from driving on the freeway to transit, supported by new park-and-ride spaces in urban or suburban locations. The following table presents annualized transit and park-and-ride service costs:

Los Angeles
San Francisco
Annual transit Subsidy (millions)
Annual Parking Costs (millions)
Total Annual Costs (millions)

Total Costs:

The table below summarizes public costs for tolling and traffic management operations and new transit and park-and-ride services.

Los Angeles
San Francisco
5 City Total
Highway Costs (millions)
Transit Costs (millions)
Total Multimodal Costs (millions)

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Estimating Costs, Benefits and Revenues from Congestion Pricing of Limited Access Highways

Author: DeCorla-Souza, Patrick and Regina McElroy

Published By: Paper presented at the 87th Annual Transportation Research Board Meeting

Source Date: 13-17 January 2008


System Cost

Freeway congestion pricing system for the cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, and Atlanta:

Annualized Capital Cost: $125.9 million
Annual Operations Cost: $1.06 billion
Annual Transit Subsidy: $537 million
Annual Parking Cost: $90 million
Total System Cost: $1.8 billion (in 2008 dollars)


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Congestion pricing, transportation financing, freeway operations, travel demand management, active traffic management

Cost ID: 2014-00315