FTE's Integrated Congestion Pricing Plan
In February 2011, FTE kicked off a comprehensive study to evaluate the potential for implementing strategies for managing congestion along the Turnpike System. The Integrated Congestion Pricing Plan (ICPP) was a multi-year, three-phase project that assessed public opinion and the viability of managing congestion with express lanes.
Much of the study effort focused on the large urban areas of the State that experience prolonged periods of congestion, including Turnpike facilities in Southeast Florida, Tampa, and Orlando. The Turnpike’s ICPP is among the first in the nation to consider a large-scale program of value pricing that evaluated the use of express lanes on an existing system of toll roads.
The study also examined the opportunity to incorporate carpooling and transit services into the overall congestion management solution. The use of carpooling and transit on the Turnpike can enhance transportation system performance on a regional level, resulting in lower crash rates and fatalities on the roads (safety), better quality of life (livability), and a much healthier environment (sustainability).
ICPP Phase I – Development of Alternatives
Phase I was initiated in February 2011 and completed in December 2011. This Phase established the basis and framework for the entire effort by defining the study goal and four objectives, and identifying various policy issues that were examined in depth as the study proceeded into Phases II and III.
Also during Phase I, the need for future roadway widening was evaluated system-wide and preliminary project costs were developed. In addition, the Turnpike’s all-electronic tolling projects, currently under various stages of development and implementation, were evaluated for tolling points and tolling plans that could be implemented with congestion pricing. Some preliminary engineering evaluation was also completed to help make recommendations regarding preferred design criteria. Finally, operational issues evaluated during Phase I included tolling considerations (roadway and back office), traffic management, and public education, sign density, and ease of use.
ICPP Phase II – Evaluation and Coordination
FTE worked on Phase II in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Phase II was completed in March 2014. In this phase, FTE initiated a public outreach and education program to give stakeholders an opportunity to understand the project, and the circumstances in which value pricing can offer a workable solution to problems of congestion.
As part of the public outreach effort, FTE arranged a series of 10 focus groups to obtain qualitative feedback regarding the potential for adding express lanes to Turnpike facilities in South/Southeast Florida, Tampa, and Orlando. The focus groups explored participants' reactions to express lanes with respect to effectiveness, capacity, pricing, perceived value of service, and other considerations. At the same time, FTE sent out a stated preference survey to better understand how individuals will use the express lanes on Florida's Turnpike facilities.
FTE also conducted a traffic and revenue assessment to evaluate the potential usage of the express lanes projects planned in Miami-Dade, Tampa, and Orlando. The study used information obtained from the focus groups and the stated preference surveys about drivers’ perceptions of travel time savings.
During this phase, FTE selected the Veterans Expressway and the Turnpike/SR 821 (HEFT) for the implementation of express lanes. Both facilities are severely congested and require the need to add new lanes. As a result, adding express lanes during the widening of both facilities would be used to manage congestion well into the future.
Also, in this phase, FTE worked closely with FDOT Central Office to establish policies regarding the use of express lanes on the Turnpike and the interstates. These policies are described and documented in the FDOT Express Lanes Handbook. They are developed after examining a wide range of parameters including safety, design standards and signage, traffic operations, back office requirements, revenues, and capital cost.
ICPP Phase III – Preparation of Master Plan
Phase III of the ICPP started in May 2014. During this phase, FTE added a third express lane project, the Beachline West Expressway in Orlando. Phase III was designed to prepare a Master Plan for FTE’s congestion pricing program and to determine performance measures to evaluate the success of the express lane projects. In addition, the public outreach effort that was initiated in Phase II continued throughout this phase.