Navigating the Future of Toll Roads

The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) hosted its 83rd Annual Meeting and Exhibition in Dublin, Ireland, earlier this month to bring transportation industry leaders together, share knowledge, and educate others on new trends. Dewberry is a proud member of IBTTA, which is the worldwide association for the owners and operators of toll facilities and the businesses that serve them.

This summit was a unique opportunity for Dewberry as IBTTA includes the largest toll road financers and toll operators as members, which then attracts the largest contractors, vendors, and consultants in the world, as attendees or associate members. The annual meeting was well attended by 500 transportation leaders from 29 countries, representing such agencies as the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, and the Florida Turnpike Authority.

Ali at IBTTA
(Left to right) Ali Vaezi, Dewberry Senior Vice President and Branch Manager, Bloomfield, New Jersey, office; James Harris, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP; Cindy Ward, Manager, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority; John McCusky, Executive Director, E-470 Public Highway Authority; and Mike Heiligenstein, former IBTTA President and current Executive Director, Central Texas Mobility Authority.

Through advocacy, thought leadership, and education, members of IBTTA are implementing state-of-the-art, innovative user-based transportation financing solutions to address the critical infrastructure challenges of the 21st century. Many of the participants providing input at the annual meeting are our clients who voiced some of the issues they are facing. This client exposure allows us to better understand their needs and help them implement the best solution for large-scale projects.

Benefits of Toll Roads

This year's annual meeting focused on the future of toll roads, a theme that I found extremely timely considering increasing changes in the industry as a result of technology like Google Maps and Waze. For example, when drivers are given options from Google Maps or Waze to take toll roads or avoid toll roads, many drivers decide to avoid toll roads because of the extra cost, but they may not understand the many reasons they should consider taking the route with tolls.

Toll Roads

I discussed this topic during my presentation to the international audience in hopes of changing the conversation from a negative to a positive when travelers are offered toll road options. Commuters may focus on the rising costs of toll roads, but those costs are a result of better maintained roadways. In my presentation, I outlined the numerous benefits of toll roads to travelers, such as:

  • Toll roads are one of the first roadways to be cleared of ice and snow during inclement weather making them safer to drive
  • Toll roads are often less congested than other major highways, allowing travelers to get to their destination faster and safer
  • Toll roads are monitored 24/7 and have more efficient access to emergency services and response as a result
  • In many countries, toll roads have some of the better service areas, including restaurants, gas stations, and souvenir shops

The future of toll roads will continue to make traveling convenient and seamless for drivers. The IBTTA predicts that 15,000 new miles of toll road may be added in the U.S. by 2020, and that tolling will become the primary method of funding roads. It's predicted that driving may shift towards a pay-as-you-go model, where drivers are charged based on the amount of miles they drive instead of paying a gas tax. I believe that the future of transportation is an endless road of possibilities, but that we must continue to provide transportation options, like toll roads, that will continue to help our clients and drivers by anticipating twist and turns in our transportation future.

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  • Ali Vaezi
    Ali Vaezi
 
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