Peak-hour tolling may be coming soon to a bridge near you.
It’s one of the ideas the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission is looking at to reduce congestion.
The bridges are operating at capacity and something needs to be done now, said Steve Snider, general manager and CEO of the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission.
In the next several months, the commission will study the impact of peak-period tolling (between 7–9 a.m. and 3–5 p.m.) and of one-way tolling.
A previous study found the HRM will need another bridge crossing between 2016 and 2026, but Snider wants to examine other options first.
“If we have an option of building (another) bridge at $1.1 billion or a tunnel at $1.4 billion, versus trying to bring about some other change, what should we do first?”
Snider said he believes making travel more expensive will change the way people get around.
“When would be the last time we’ve seen people make a change in the way they travel? When gas prices got very high, people got out of their cars and got on the bus,” he told reporters after a speech hosted by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.
The municipality is examining transit, parking, as well as other programs to reduce traffic, but the bridge commission is looking what they can do with their jurisdiction.
“I just know bringing about societal change — that is how people travel — requires something different than what we’ve been doing,” Snider said.
The current 75-cent toll (60 cents for MACPASS users) hasn’t gone up since 1992. The bridges are paid for, but there’s a debt of $57 million from maintenance projects to pay off. Snider said they won’t hike tolls to pay for the debt.
But that debt load is about to get a lot bigger: Snider said they’re planning to re-deck the MacDonald Bridge between 2014 and 2016 at a cost of $70 million.