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There is an alternative to higher gas taxes

Road TransportationHighway and Road TransportationCommutingPublic TransportationCompany Privatization

You editorial ("Pay now or later," March 14) provides two choices to deal with our the state's aging infrastructure: Raise taxes on gasoline or continue to face increasing hazardous road and bridge conditions and more gridlock for commuters.

Well, there is an alternative: Inviting the private sector in to see if they can work with the public sector in this regard. In my book, "Public-Private Partnerships — Case Studies on Infrastructure Development," I include many examples of public-private partnerships to improve roads, bridges and tunnels by permitting the private sector to invest in revenue-producing infrastructure that can accomplish several goals:

1.) Providing lump sum payments to obtain a long lease on an existing toll road where the toll structure is negotiated between lessee and lessor. The lessee operates, maintains and improves the toll road in return for a reasonable return on their investment via collection of tolls.

2.) The lessee may add high occupancy lanes that create tolls with a higher rate during morning and evening rush hours. Commuters willing to pay slightly more can move along quite rapidly if they chose so. In both cases, only users pay these fees, as it should be, and non-users don't. Truck only lanes, created in the median strip of existing highways, take these large vehicles off the highway and allow trailer caravans to operate more safely and at significant savings to fuel costs and reduction in exhaust fumes — and create more room for passengers cars.

The case for increased, efficient public transportation can also reduce congestion and, according to the American Public Transportation Association, public transportation annually saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline and reduces our nation's carbon emissions by 37 million metric tones. So how is that for a triple threat — reduces traffic, saves energy, improves the environment. The term "thinking outside the box" is overused nowadays, but perhaps the state should apply that to alternate methods to improve our transportation systems.

Sidney M. Levy, Baltimore

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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