Home' Future Building Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 3 Number 2 Contents 32 futurebuilding Volume 3 Number 2
Smart freeway management systems, such as the
one in use on CityLink, provide one option. They
represent network management at work -- and can be
utilised more broadly.
These are incremental -- not radical -- solutions.
But they all contribute to a better-functioning system.
I can't talk about innovation without discussing
our Express Lanes project in the United States. It's a
great example of a pragmatic approach -- and one
that could work well here in the Australian context.
The lanes are on a 22-kilometre section of the
Capital Beltway -- the ring road around Washington
DC and one of the most congested corridors in the
We have built two dynamically tolled lanes in
each direction, next to the eight existing freeway
lanes, so motorists will have the choice of travelling
free or paying for a more reliable journey.
The price will uctuate in real time, depending on
demand, to maintain a minimum speed or minimum
level of service. The express lanes also support public
transportation and carpooling options, with buses
and cars with three or more passengers travelling for
free. We are guaranteeing a speed of at least 45 miles
per hour on these lanes.
Think about that for a moment: this is one of
the busiest roads in the United States, and we are
guaranteeing that you can travel at least 70 kilometres
per hour any time of the day or night.
Have you ever missed a ight or turned up late
to your child's event? What price would you put on a
more reliable trip?
The political will for this project comes from the
fact that we are building new capacity and upgrading
Before Transurban got to the Capital Beltway,
there were four congested lanes in each direction
that you could travel on for free, and 40-year-old
structures in need of urgent repair.
When we nish, there will still be four lanes for
free. The difference is that now people have a choice
to avoid the congestion.
It's essentially a pay service for the time-poor
commuter that also offers the same service to buses
and the carpooling public for free. And, of course, it
is about managing demand around peak periods. It's
also worth noting that this project would not have
got off the ground without US Federal Government
funding assistance in the form of a special loan for
transport infrastructure under the Transportation
Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA).
The US Government has some innovative long-
term and patient capital assistance funding to
leverage infrastructure, unlike the Australian market.
The government capital in our projects has had a
leverage effect of 5X. While funding is a topic for
another day, we strongly believe it is worth pursuing
this type of government support here in Australia.
So could Express Lanes work here? Why not?
Before Transurban got there,
there were four congested lanes
in each direction that you could
travel on for free, and 40-year-
old structures in need of urgent
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