How much would you pay to avoid traffic jams on your daily commute? $10? $20? How about $40?
That's how much a tollway in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., charged for a short time last week. Outraged commuters call it highway robbery.
But transportation officials say the high-priced toll is less about money and more about changing commuter behavior and reducing congestion, and commuters all across the country might soon see more tolls in the future.
The 10-mile stretch of Interstate 66 from the Northern Virginia suburbs into the District of Columbia is like no other road in the country. It was built in the early 1980s for carpools and buses to use during rush hour. Over the years, officials have opened it up to hybrids and a few other exemptions, and in recent years, scofflaw single drivers violating the high-occupancy-vehicle-only law helped choke the road with gridlock.