How Will Ubiquitous Freeway Tolls Affect Home Prices?

With tolls of $1 to $5 per crossing coming to a floating bridge near you in less than a year and local governments planning to add tolls to every freeway as early as 2030, now is a good time to think about how adding such per-use fees to our freeways might affect the home prices in the non-urban-core neighborhoods.

This topic is similar to the gas prices discussion we had back in 2008, but freeway tolling seems likely to have an even greater psychological effect than gas prices since you face the costs every time you get in the car instead of just once a week when you fill the tank.

Let’s make a conservative estimate that a post-tolling exurban commute will cost a potential homebuyer $5 a day. That’s roughly $100 a month, which can buy you about $20,000 more house at 5% interest rates. Not exactly enough to move you in all that closer.

What if we make a more extreme assumption about the cost of tolling to a daily exurban freeway commuter? Let’s say the new everywhere tolls add $20 a day to their commute costs. That’s about $400 a month, which is approximately equivilent to $80,000 in purchase power at 5% interest. Now we’re talking. That’s more than the difference between the median prices of Marysville and Shoreline.

Unlike gas prices, which don’t really make enough of a difference in a family’s bottom line to justify moving closer in, $5 per-use tolls on every freeway around Seattle may be just the social engineering that local politicians have been looking for to kill the “drive till you qualify” home-buying strategy.

What about for you? Is future tolling something that you take into consideration when you’re looking for your next home? Do you think it will be a factor for enough people to make a significant difference in the sales volumes in the further-out cities and rural areas?

  

About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

52 comments:

  1. 1
    HappyRenter says:

    I want to be able to bike to work.

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  2. 2
    MacroInvestor says:

    It won’t pass, just like an income tax won’t pass. It’s nothing but a politician’s dream.

    We need to keep passing initiatives that force the politicians to cut back. When about half the gov workers are back in the private sector, I think we can say the job is done.

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  3. 3
    hoary says:

    I wonder how prices have been impacted around the Tacoma Narrows? Any impact will be a function of where the tolls are and how much they cost — pretty big unknowns at this point. Like you said, $100 a month would not be an insignificant amount if we assume that.

    I do see our area using tolls in the near future. I’d wager beers that both floating bridges will have tolls in place in less than 10 years. As a commuter to downtown Seattle, lets just say I won’t be buying on the Eastside.

    Improving fuel efficiency and crap economy ate away at gas taxes considerably this last year. Governments are always looking for more sustainable sources of revenue and this source has a proven track record here and abroad.

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  4. 4

    I think the bigger concern would be how would it affect those on side streets near freeways. Back when I lived in Skyway I could tell when there was a major accident on the freeway or MLK Way. Tolling would make that a 24 hour a day event.

    I agree with MacroInvestor that it’s unlikely to pass. More likely is some sort of per mile charge for driving anywhere if they can figure out how to prevent cheating.

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  5. 5
    Andrew says:

    I’m not about to base a decision today on what .gov might do in 1 year, never mind in 20 years .

    If that tolling was already a reality, then yes, it would affect my decision making process if I were shopping for a new house. So, in that sense, over time such tolling would impact property values, but probably not as much as the present value of the toll’s expense would suggest. People still value their elbow room, and school districts will still dominate the decision making process for most people.

    But I wouldn’t sell my home and move just over that expense either. Figure on a $200k home (hard to find in livable condition for the Puget Sound) selling costs alone are pushing close to $20k, then you have to pay for moving, etc. Even for that low end house you can pay an aweful lot of tolls before spending $20k+.

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  6. 6
    redmondjp says:

    Prediction: Traffic around the north end of Lake Washington (Lake City Way/Bothell Way 68th Ave NE/Juanita Drive) will increase by a non-trivial amount, thus complicating The Tim’s drive to just about anywhere!

    Just looked up the tolling method: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Tolling/520tolling.htm

    Hmmm, I see sooooo much revenue-enhancing potential in this technology! Just imagine when local cities start floating the idea of tolling people that drive through on their daily commutes, or neighborhoods burdened with a short-cut that want to cut down on the traffic (and generate some bonus $ at the same time). Within ten years, we’ll all be required to have one of these passes on each vehicle (farm and off-road-only excepted) as a condition of registration. We will literally pay as we go (on top of what we already are). Won’t it be great?

    Housing prices? They won’t be affected by this at all.

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  7. 7
    wreckingbull says:

    No one ever talks about the simple solution.

    Telecommuting, or at least partial telecommuting. Yes, yes, yes, I know some jobs don’t fit this model. Many do. My company is slowly starting to embrace this, and we are finding we can attract top talent when you allow the employee to choose where they live. The result? Most of the the employees choose to live in less expensive areas where their salary goes further. Some live in ski-towns. Others live on farms. It is a double win for the employee and the employer.

    Pop quiz: Is this trend inflationary or deflationary? Our margins continue to shrink, in part due to global competition, yet we find we can keep domestic employees happy for less money by letting them choose where they live.

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  8. 8
    deejayoh says:

    I do the daily 520 commute today, and the pending toll has me thinking hard about moving to the east side. It’s only $6/day (~$1200/year) and I pay more than that to comcast – but add that cost to the 35-40 minutes each way and it starts to add up.

    I don’t understand the comments that this will never happen (it most certainly is!). And I also think it will drive much more traffic down to I-90 instead of north.

    I think the state has the OK from the feds to toll I-90 but it doesnt look like they are going to put that in place at the same time. Maybe they’re worried about another wave of lawsuits from Mercer Island residents like the ones that hung up that bridge replacement forever.

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  9. 9
    Mike H says:

    How about another solution – using transit instead of personal cars

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  10. 10
    JJG says:

    Great topic :). I think the exercise is to assume these tolls will be enacted someday. 520 sounds inevitable. I know several people who own or rent in Seattle (for the culture) but work on the Eastside (for the job). That’s a busy commute each way and the thought of paying a toll, with no traffic improvement for years, is daunting. I moved to the Eastside (renter), for the reduced drive alone. Gas prices will rise again. Any significant commute around the area is going to hurt.

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  11. 11
    HappyRenter says:

    Italy and France have tolls on most of their freeways. It doesn’t prevent people from driving. Though, some people do the math and figure out that taking the train might be cheaper than driving, especially if you are not carpooling. I doubt that tolls will have a considerable effect on traffic if you don’t provide an efficient public transportation system as an alternative.

    Some people might choose to buy real estate in such a way that the amount of tolls to pass are minimized. Others might not care, you just get a sticker on your windshield and the toll is automatically deducted from your checking account. I know people who live on the Olympic Peninsula and have to pass the Narrows bridge. It doesn’t seem to bother them too much. They actually appreciate the lower amount of traffic on the bridge. I guess it all depends how much you get charged and how much that strains people wallets.

    Quality of life for me means not to have to drive to work – with or without tolls.

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  12. 12
    Scotsman says:

    RE: MacroInvestor @ 2

    I tend to agree. We may well see tolls on the two main bridges, but they’ll never pass for general highways, etc. Think of the lawsuits. Plus, as the economy continues to deteriorate there will be more pressure to cut costs, not just increase revenues. This will end up like the state income tax- always a dream, never a reality.

    Should it somehow pass the impact on housing will be minimal. Folks who drive to downtown during rush hour already pay for parking, gas, etc and have shown little sensitivity to increased costs. It’s still all about convenience, flexibility, and control.

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  13. 13
    hoary says:

    By HappyRenter @ 10:

    . I doubt that tolls will have a considerable effect on traffic if you don’t provide an efficient public transportation system as an alternative.

    I think this will be the salient point of future debate on this topic. Tolls are great as a revenue tool and a good stick approach to getting people out of their cars, but unless you provide a reasonable alternative, quality of life will suffer.

    What happens when they put tolls in place and all the PnR’s overflow? Do you start charging people to park there?

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  14. 14
    JJG says:

    By HappyRenter @ 10:

    I know people who live on the Olympic Peninsula and have to pass the Narrows bridge. It doesn’t seem to bother them too much. They actually appreciate the lower amount of traffic on the bridge. .

    Doesn’t this logic mean less people are living and commuting from the Peninsula, in theory driving down Gig Harbor home prices? Maybe not significant, but still some effect. People still need to work.

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  15. 15
    Anon. says:

    I’m all for tolling, so long as they decrease taxes elsewhere.
    This is an example of taxing based on usage, not based on being a living human being.

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  16. 16
    wreckingbull says:

    Anyone remember handing 35 cents to the nice lady in the booth? Hard to believe it has already been 31 years since they were removed.

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  17. 17
    John says:

    RE: hoary @ 12

    Yeah, probably – that’s what happens in other places. And then people get really upset, until they figure out that it’s still cheaper than driving themselves all the way to work. Of course, most of the examples I can think of are in cities with more robust mass transit systems, so it’s hard to tell exactly what would happen here.

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  18. 18
    Hugh Dominic says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 4:

    More likely is some sort of per mile charge for driving anywhere if they can figure out how to prevent cheating.

    That’s called Raising the Gas Tax, which is a great idea and also punishes gas-guzzlers. It’s too bad it is so unpopular. Automotive transportation (and its pollution) is pretty harmful and externalizes its costs to the public.. taxes on its infrastructure are a good way to recover the cost and discourage overuse.

    I’m in favor of taxing things that we ought to discourage:
    * Pollution
    * Unhealthy things (fat, smokes, alcohol)
    * Conspicuous consumption

    We shouldn’t tax things that we want:
    * Employment (B&O)
    * Income (Not in WA thank goodness)

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  19. 19
    Dan says:

    I wonder if it’d be possible to pass a voter initiative to raise the gas tax. It’s been called political suicide, but I’d like to see that put to the test. Washington leans left, and the reasons for an increased gas tax are sound. It’s more practical than tolls, which cause increased congestion near the toll-booths.

    I can’t believe that certain states have talked about implanting a GPS device into our cars to monitor miles driven and tax us accordingly. Have we gone that insane! Just raise the gas tax already, sheesh.

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  20. 20
    ray pepper says:

    The toll on the Narrows bridge was worth every penny. I moved from Gig Harbor to Proctor because of how bad the bridge was. Now with the Good-to-go stickers on my windshields I pay 2.75 each time I cross and its Excellent. Less people take the bridge (at least thats what has been reported) and with the back-ups I see on 520 in Bellevue, past Burgermaster , I sincerely hope it helps.

    However, your not getting a new bridge. Just tolling the old one.. Its entirely different with Narrows…I would move back to Gig Harbor in an instant but the kids are in school and with The New Sonic Burger opening in a few months I think I will stay in Proctor for awhile longer.

    Toll away!!!!

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  21. 21
    Scotsman says:

    Don’t we already have the second or third highest gas tax in the country? Why is the concept of simply spending less so hard to comprehend?

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  22. 22
    CCG says:

    In response to your concerns, the money collected from the tolls will be used to help fund an affordable homebuying program, after the State takes its cut, of course.

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  23. 23
    Hugh Dominic says:

    By Scotsman @ 21:

    Why is the concept of simply spending less so hard to comprehend?

    I’m up for that. Elect me for one term and I’ll chop that budget to pieces. I will not be re-elected.

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  24. 24
    Crashcadia says:

    I ride the sounder train every day.
    Started about 2 years ago. Thought I would never like it.
    Loved it right off the bat.
    I will never go back to driving to and from work.

    All the rest of you that drive, you do not know what you are missing.

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  25. 25
    Ross Jordan says:

    By Hugh Dominic @ 18:

    That’s called Raising the Gas Tax, which is a great idea and also punishes gas-guzzlers. It’s too bad it is so unpopular. Automotive transportation (and its pollution) is pretty harmful and externalizes its costs to the public.. taxes on its infrastructure are a good way to recover the cost and discourage overuse.

    I’d also say that raising the gas tax makes more sense than instituting tolls all over:
    – It’s more efficient to collect (you don’t need booths, toll machine/people, enforcement)
    – It’s faster: Time spent paying tolls is time wasted (even if a subset of people enroll in an automated system, that has its own issues – transaction fees, overhead costs (pay programmers to create and maintain system), enforcement costs (i.e. for NSF situations)
    – It’s more fair: Why discriminate against freeways/bridges as opposed to small roads?
    – It encourages people to buy less fuel: whether more efficient vehicles or drive fewer miles

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  26. 26
    SpringStreet says:

    Call me crazy, but as one of those Seattle (social) Redmond (work) folks, I dare say I am more willing today to reconsider my employment situation than my housing situation.

    Employers in our area need to consider both sides as viable talent pools, and provide appropriate office accommodation if they believe in that talent. The days of expecting Microsoft employees to make 520 into a parking lot just for a measly paycheck are mostly gone, what’s it all really for when there are options elsewhere?

    +1 to the “telecommute” comments… if only.

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  27. 27
    Pegasus says:

    Another example of failing to take the necessary steps to save the state from bankruptcy. Let’s tax everything! Don’t cut back the massively inflated state budgets because it will anger the unions. Don’t cut wages and employees and their state pensions even if their unemployment rate is 70 percent less than the rest of the state’s inhabitants. Keep paying these idiots inflated wages and pensions while the real economy suffers. We have so many state employees now that they can win any election. . Just keep taxing the hell out of the people who financially support these clowns with their taxes and labor until we are bankrupt. FIRE the overpaid idiots!!!! Stop trying to fine anyone without a seatbelt on. Stop the Nazi’s in Olympia.We have unused traffic lanes that are only for the rich now who can afford the tolls to avoid traffic. We have camera’s to generate revenues everywhere. Haven’t the morons in control here figured out that this all ends badly when the masses revolt?

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  28. 28
    David says:

    It might pass because government workers will be subsidized for the expense. Us in the private sector will get hit. We are the slaves of government workers now.

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  29. 29

    […] what other ways might tolls affect the region? Seattle Bubble speculates about whether it will change real estate patterns, as people seek to move closer to their employers: What if we make a more extreme assumption about […]

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  30. 30
    Pegasus says:

    Here is why it might pass…..

    Seattle residents asking mayor for nude beach
    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    SEATTLE — New Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn asked residents for their ideas about what the city needs, and apparently a lot of people have been thinking about a nude beach.

    A clothing-optional beach for sunbathing and skinny dipping is in third place Thursday on the website where people can express their preferences.

    First is expanding light rail and second is legalizing marijuana.

    http://www.seattlepi.com/local/6420ap_wa_odd_nude_seattle.html

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  31. 31

    RE: Pegasus @ 30
    Now they just need to expand the light rail to the nude beach, where you could take a couple of hits and then disrobe.

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  32. 32
    One Eyed Man says:

    RE: Pegasus @ 27

    You seem a little touchy today Pegasus. So the idea of a toll on the 520 hit a sore spot?

    There’s a question I have that nobody seems to be asking so far, unless I missed it. Would you rather have a toll and a new 520 bridge or not have a toll and not have a 520 bridge? I think that’s the eventual reality due to the issues with the current bridge. If somebody wants a 520 bridge they should licking BE WILLING TO PAY FOR IT and stop pretending that borrowing the money is like getting things for free.

    Large capital items like a new bridge often require borrowing in the form of bond financing due to the high initial cost and long life of the asset. But there should be a dedicated revenue stream to pay for such an expensive item.

    Sorry. My frustration isn’t aimed at you Pegasus. Your comment just sort of brought it to the surface. That’s my only complaint. I don’t care if we build a new 520 bridge or not. And I don’t think a toll will affect housing demand much. But if you don’t have a 520 bridge, commute patterns and home locations will definitely be affected. But that’s life. If people don’t want a toll (or some other revenue stream to pay for it) then don’t build the golly bridge. If you have to drive around or move or get a new job, that’s the opportunity cost of not building the bridge and paying the toll. I don’t want some asshole asking for us to buy something they don’t want to pay for. No free rides, at least not for a bridge and not for those who are able bodied and capable of contributing to pay for what they’ve asked to receive.

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  33. 33
    Pegasus says:

    Ira
    Obviously we have so many government programs, that are really unfunded, that no one is worried. Food stamps, unemployment, social security, government funded housing, free medical care, bailouts, government mortgages, etc., etc. Reminds me of Pinocchio when they went to Pleasure Island with no cares and were turned into donkeys. Sometimes even fairy tales come true. Right pfft?

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  34. 34
    Pegasus says:

    One Eye @ 32

    The problem is taxing everything(includes tolls) when everyone can least afford it. It will just spread to all of the other “needed” improvements in the state. We now charge tolls to people who have the funds who want to get to work fast in lanes that were built to encourage car pooling.NOT ANYMORE! It is all about the money. Maybe the state should give the wealthy TWO LANES so they can get to work early with no traffic and let the rest be bogged down in traffic because they can’t afford the tolls. Maybe they can force the poor into biking to work in the rain while the fast lane is almost empty. Insanity.

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  35. 35
    Franky says:

    The tolls may sway some people to live in Seattle but it could also sway some companies to locate in Bellevue.

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  36. 36
    One Eyed Man says:

    RE: Pegasus @ 34

    That pay lane deal on 167 is one more idiotic thing that came out of California. I think they started doing that with the carpool lane on the road going east from OC to Riverside in about 1995. It was after my wife and I moved back up here in 1990. But I see that as fundamentally different from the idea of a toll to build a new bridge. If it wasn’t for all the federal money that they got for the I 90 bridge, there wouldn’t be any park over the freeway on the west side of MI and there would be a toll both to pay off the bonds just like at Tacoma Narrows. I’m pretty sure that the park was largely subsidized by interstate hwy money. I know that freeway park over I 5 was built with 90% interstate hwy money.

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  37. 37

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 31:

    RE: Pegasus @ 30
    Now they just need to expand the light rail to the nude beach, where you could take a couple of hits and then disrobe.

    I wonder what will happen to the value of properties overlooking nude beaches? Gary Shandling’s (sp?) joke about view property could come true!

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  38. 38
    meadows says:

    I had to drive Mrs. Meadows to Yakima (and back) on business a couple days ago from Bellingham. As an agorophobe who hates to drive any highways anywhere, I was amazed by the huge # of one occupant vehicles. The HOV lane was practically empty on 405 South and North. It is too cheap to drive. Gas is too cheap, cars are too cheap, roadways are too cheap. Cheap cheap cheap.

    The true costs of driving are kept down by many forces that single occupant drivers are happy to indulge. Like too-cheap credit? It’s an insane farce. It causes mental illness, too. Getting into a car daily and screaming up or down 405 at 75 turns people into zombies.

    The true cost? Check out the Gulf of Mexico.

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  39. 39
    Flotown says:

    I agree, meadows. In this time of diminishing resources, driving should be subject to a vice tax just like smoking. They’re both guilty pleasures, and they both kill us. As of right now, with the economy in the tube, I-5 is still packed at rush hours! When I want to drive to work (about 1-2 times/week) I can’t do it, because its full of people who commute by themselves every day. If one wants to live in say, Lynwood and work in Kent, the more power to you, but you should pay for the that spot on the freeway every day

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  40. 40
    The Tim says:

    By Flotown @ 39:

    I agree, meadows. In this time of diminishing resources, driving should be subject to a vice tax just like smoking. They’re both guilty pleasures, and they both kill us.

    Well to be fair they’re not really in the same ballpark at all. Smoking is estimated to kill over 400,000 people per year in the US, while automobile accidents kill 35,000 to 40,000. And I guarantee you that a lot more people drive cars than smoke cigarettes.

    That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of other detrimental effects from everyone puttering around in oil-burning giant steel cages just to move one body a few miles, but to compare it to smoking is a bit misleading.

    What do you think of something like the Tango? That’s always been one of my favorite independent cars since it not only is all electric, but it takes up far less space on the road.

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  41. 41
    laterite says:

    We’re entering the pay-as-you-go society. It’s only going to get worse. I think things like tolls and cost-per-mile schemes will have an effect on home prices at the macro level as people start to see more direct impact on their pocketbook due to their lifestyle choices and move inward. Does this mean the exurbs and rural communities will be abandoned? Not necessarily; those who truly love a rural lifestyle and/or have their main source of income derived from the land (farming, animal husbandry, vineyard, etc) will still thrive. But someone who lives in a giant sardine development in, say, Stanwood, but works in Everett or Bellevue might start to question why exactly they live so far out of the way.

    Another +1 to the telecommuting comment. Those with that kind of job could also get away with living in the exurbs but might also miss being near conveniences.

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  42. 42
    HappyRenter says:

    By JJG @ 14:

    By HappyRenter @ 10:
    I know people who live on the Olympic Peninsula and have to pass the Narrows bridge. It doesn’t seem to bother them too much. They actually appreciate the lower amount of traffic on the bridge. .

    Doesn’t this logic mean less people are living and commuting from the Peninsula, in theory driving down Gig Harbor home prices? Maybe not significant, but still some effect. People still need to work.

    Sorry, the lower traffic on the Narrows bridge is due to the extension of the lanes. They added one more lane per direction. After the works, they introduced a toll to recover the costs. Yes, most people who live in Gig Harbor work near or in Tacoma and they have to cross the bridge. However, I doubt that the toll will be the main reason for them to move. Gig Harbor is really pretty and I imagine Real Estate there is not much more expensive than Tacoma.

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  43. 43
    meadows says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commuter_Cars_Tango

    108,000 clams? Is that correct?

    There is a link between irrational cheap credit and irrational cheap driving costs…

    Both make bubbles that collapse when reality rears up. In the case of housing, on this blog we know what those realities mean. In the case of cheap driving (which also is based on cheap credit besides cheap everything else) we have suburban sprawl and it’s attendant ills.

    from Wikipedia:

    “Norway ranks as the third wealthiest country in the world in monetary value, with the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation. Norway is the world’s fifth largest oil exporter and the petroleum industry accounts for around a quarter of its GDP”

    And their gas costs over 6 clams a gallon.

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  44. 44
    meadows says:

    Gas is 6 bucks a gallon in Norway and they are a net exporter of oil. They have one of the smallest gaps between rich and poor and a high representation of women in gov’t. They have generous maternity and paternity leaves, daycare supports and higher education supports.

    They have extremely high taxes and immigration issues as well. But all their offshore drilling rigs have functional blowout preventers. Their oil is their public treasure.

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  45. 45
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: meadows @ 44 – You might add they have a population of about 5 million. When 5 million people share the fruits of 12 billion barrels of oil, it makes socialism look downright blissful.

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  46. 46
    k2000k says:

    RE: meadows @ 44

    I’ve never understood why having ‘representation’ of certain groups as important, I could personally care less what the demographic of our government was just as long as they were competent and governed well. And I don’t think cost of gas has an affect on how much oil we could export, and for us it could potentially be a lot since we are the 3rd largest producer in the world, I see it more as a consumption model. I honestly don’t think an increased gas tax would do squat in terms of reducing driving, the US is a car culture and despite what the urbanists say, it always will be. Electric cars FTW, heres to the Nissan Leaf and GM betting the farm on the electric car.

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  47. 47
    Dave0 says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 45 – You have a good point. 5 million people, 12 billions barrels of oil, that’s a lot of wealth per person. No wonder they are the richest country in the world per person.

    It’s funny though, Louisiana has better stats than that… 4.4 million people (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana), with 30 billion barrels of oil off their shoreline (see http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/54/758Syms2006OCSMapWithPlanni.png). You would think that would make Louisiana the richest state in the USA, on par with Norway and their massive wealth that pays for their citizens higher education, maternity leave, sick pay, healthcare, etc. Oh wait, Louisiana is a capitalist state, privatizing all of their oil land and letting corporations buy it all up. As a result they are one of the poorest, least educated, unhealthy states in the USA.

    Imagine how different the quality of life would have been in Louisiana if they were as socialist as Norway.

    Dang socialists….

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  48. 48
    Dave0 says:

    RE: Dave0 @ 47 – ok so turns out I was looking at “Undiscovered Technically Recoverable” estimates for Louisiana, rather than the amount produced, which is the 12 billion in Norway, but you can make my same case for Alaska.

    Alaska’s produced 5.9 billion barrels of oil (source: http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=RCRR01SAK_1&f=A) for their current population of 700,000 (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska). That’s more than 3 times as much oil produced per person as Norway, but Alaska is definitely not on the same level as Norway when it comes to wealth, education, health, and general quality of life. That is because Alaska gave its oil wealth away to the private sector, who uses that wealth to selfishly create more wealth for themselves (that’s capitalism after all), whereas Norway kept the oil state owned and used the wealth from it to create the best quality of life possible for their citizens.

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  49. 49
    policy wonk says:

    What happens to home prices when highways are tolled? Its an interesting question, but not a simple one. The short answer is: it depends. All else equal the tolls would make longer commutes more costly and remote residential areas more expensive places to live compared to centrally located places. Thus the centrally located neighborhoods ought be more sought after and therefore command a higher price. However, all else is not equal. We need to remember that congestion reduction is a key objective behind the tolls assumed in the PSRC plan (as well as raise revenue). To the extent that tolls on highways make commuting faster and more predicatble it will make more remote suburban locations more attractive than they would be otherwise. The ability of variable tolls to reduce congestion is also vital to their political acceptablity (which is still a question mark). But the complications in regard to property values don’t end there. We tend to think of travel time in terms of commuting time to downtown Seattle. Seattle is still the largest employment center in the region but it now accounts for only a small percentage ot total employment in the region and that percentage is expected to drop in the future. So, before we jump to conclusions about which neighborhoods would be favored by tolling and which might not we really need to think about regional population and employment trends, and imagine the choices businesses and individuals will be faced with twenty years from now. It could also be argued that if variable tolls do significantly reduce congestion, and if the revenue generated by tolling is used for highly cost-effective projects, then it should follow that the economy of the Puget Sound region will be more attractive to external investment than places that don’t manage their transportation systems effectively or that use their resources for boondoggle projects. That ought to translate into higher property values (and higher home prices) than other places. Obviously these assumptions are very much open to question. Only time will tell if elected officials make the policy and investment decisions that effectively advance the regions’s interests.

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  50. 50
    One Eyed Man says:

    RE: Dave0 @ 48

    “but Alaska is definitely not on the same level as Norway when it comes to wealth, education, health, and general quality of life. That is because Alaska gave its oil wealth away to the private sector, who uses that wealth to selfishly create more wealth for themselves”

    Lucky for those Alaskans they elected a great socialist governor named Sarah Palin to get some of the oil riches back from the evil capitalist oil companies. While I’m sure she says she’s against a wind fall profits tax now, when Alaska was going to be short on tax revenue, she raised the income tax on oil companies (the source of almost all tax revenue in Alaska) from about 20% to about 25%. I think that’s more than twice what those “would be” socialists in California tax oil companies (I think the max is about 11% in CA). And when oil prices skyrocketed in 2007 or 2008, she completed her socialist income redistribution plan by increasing the Alaskan payout to residents from about $2000 per person to about $3200 per person. She makes Obama look like Orin Hatch when it comes to income redistribution. Right Wing beware, Palin is the Manchurian Candidate!

    OK so she obviously is a right wingnut, not a left wingnut. But check it out, she really did increase the tax on oil companies and then redistribute the excess tax revenues to the citizens of Alaska. On a per capita basis I’m sure that it has to be the biggest incident of income redistribution by a state, ever. How come they never bring that up at the Tea Parties?

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008103325_alaskatax07.html

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  51. 51

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  52. 52
    Carl says:

    I do the seattle (live) to kirkland (work) commute and would be happy to pay a toll if it shortens my commute. As it stands there are no bus options that go north on 405 from 520 in the morning so the transit option would take me 1.5hrs, if i could telecommute i would start tomorrow but its not an option, and i agree with the earlier poster that I would start looking for a seattle job long before moving to the eastside

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