Of course, this being America, Maryland leadership is actively pursuing the least efficient but mostly costly solution: partially privatizing the road. Two months ago, Secretary Rahn ruled out the idea of adding free lanes or HOV carpool lanes to the highway, saying that “managed lanes” would do a better job easing congestion. That’s a painful euphemism for high-occupancy toll lanes (also known as “Lexus Lanes” to NIMBY folk like me), where anyone can pay a toll to beat traffic via an express lane.
These little miracle lanes have already been built over in Virginia, where the government widened local highways, including the Beltway, and installed HOT lanes, which means you can avoid rush hour hell if you happen to be well off. VERY well-off. Tolls rise in accordance with high demand, and private firms sometimes have a hand in setting them. During one rush hour last year, tolls along I-66 in Virginia hit $46.75. One way.