Monday, 29 November 2010

UK investigates more tolling and private finance

Cambridge News reports on how the UK Department for Transport is to investigate whether tolling can be used to help pay for a proposed new A14 highway.  The £1.3 billion (US$2 billion) A14 widening and realignment project was deferred by the recently elected Conservative/Liberal Democratic coalition government as it cut spending to reduce the UK's burgeoning budget deficit.  Alternative ways of funding the project are being investigated, which if tolling was to be included, would mean building an entirely new route (so that the tolled route would be entirely separate).  This is likely to be part of a wider investigation into whether tolling can be used to fund new routes in the UK.

Odds are it wont make much difference, because the biggest problem the UK has with tolling is the very high price motorists already pay for as a part of road use.  £0.5819 per litre on unleaded petrol (plus VAT) is one of the highest levels of fuel tax in the world, none of which is hypothecated to road spending (and if new road projects were calculated on the basis of revenue generated from their use it would be interesting).  Still there is scope for more toll routes in the UK, the bigger issue is whether the UK can get over the planning barriers, NIMBYism and disbelief in road building that has hindered much highway development over the last 20 years.

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