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Framework and Process for Economic Impact Assessment of Potential Highway Congestion Pricing and Tolling Schemes

Abstract

As interest grows in road pricing and tolling schemes, so too does concern about the broader benefits, costs and consequences for non-users -- including implications for neighborhoods, households and businesses. Since congestion pricing is a policy rather than a project, it is not automatically subject to the same level of benefit/cost review or impact review required of major road and transit infrastructure investments. However, experience to date with congestion pricing clearly shows that social and political acceptability are significant concerns that center on the equity and magnitude of expected impacts on travelers and non-travelers.

Recognizing the need for more formal identification of benefits, costs and impacts, Oregon DOT developed and adopted an approach to explicitly assess potential impacts and benefits, with a screening process to identify the economic impact of proposed highway tolling schemes on users as well as non-users. These analytic procedures build on a series of research studies and represent a useful model for broader assessment of tolling and other transport pricing policies elsewhere. This paper describes the economic screening and assessment processes, their analytic foundation, procedures for use and broader potential applicability.

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