Technology Increases Appeal of Toll Roads

Published December 1, 2008

Before the Highway Trust Fund’s establishment in1956 to finance building of the nation’s Interstate Highway System, tolling was the predominant source of revenue for America’s roadways.

With advancements in technology such as “open-road tolling” (tolling cars without requiring them to stop) and “dynamic pricing” (higher prices during peak usage hours), the appeal of tolled infrastructure is making a comeback among motorists and investors.

“An impressive number of private equity funds are dedicated to investments in infrastructure,” explained transportation expert C. Kenneth Orski, publisher of Innovation Briefs, a widely read transportation newsletter.

“In aggregate, they are estimated to have raised over $120 billion,” Orski said. “After leveraging the estimated equity capital pool through bank loans and the capital markets, the infrastructure funds could support investments in the range of $340 to $600 billion.”

“It’s not just about the money,” added Leonard Gilroy, director of government reform at the Reason Foundation. “When private capital can be brought to the table, you get more efficient delivery of projects. The whole process is accelerated.”

— Brien Farley