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Policy Study

Reducing Congestion in Lee County, Florida

Cutting traffic in one of America's fastest growing urban areas

Traffic congestion in fast-growing Lee County, Florida, is expected to worsen dramatically in the coming decades. And the current long-range transportation plan does not adequately address those needs, according to a new Reason Foundation study.

The Reason Foundation report finds Lee County needs 488 new lane miles of road capacity by 2030 to handle population growth and eliminate severe congestion in the region. The study concludes that this can be accomplished by making all new lanes planned for I-75 variably-priced toll lanes and providing modestly-priced tolled overpasses at major intersections on key arterials. The overpasses, or “queue jumps,” would allow drivers to bypass stoplights in exchange for paying tolls.

The total cost of the new road capacity proposed by the Reason Foundation study is $5.7 billion, nearly all of which could be funded without taxpayer dollars using the projected toll revenues. The time savings resulting from reduced traffic congestion along with lower operating costs and fewer accidents would save the area $13.25 billion over 20 years. Thus, the savings would be 2.33 times as large as the investment.

The proposed queue jumps would not toll existing arterial roads, but would build new overpasses or underpasses along busy corridors like Cypress Lake Drive/Daniels Parkway. The study examined that corridor in detail, identifying specific queue jumps and estimating their costs. The entire corridor would cost $277 million to build. The “net present value” of toll revenues is estimated at $285 million, suggesting such corridors could be self-supporting.


Robert Poole is director of transportation policy and Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow at Reason Foundation. Poole, an MIT-trained engineer, has advised the Ronald Reagan, the George H.W. Bush, the Clinton, and the George W. Bush administrations.

Surface Transportation

In the field of surface transportation, Poole has advised the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, the White House Office of Policy Development, National Economic Council, Government Accountability Office, and state DOTs in numerous states.

Poole's 1988 policy paper proposing privately financed toll lanes to relieve congestion directly inspired California's landmark private tollway law (AB 680), which authorized four pilot toll projects including the successful 91 Express Lanes in Orange County. More than 20 other states and the federal government have since enacted similar public-private partnership legislation. In 1993, Poole oversaw a study that coined the term HOT (high-occupancy toll) Lanes, a term which has become widely accepted since.

California Gov. Pete Wilson appointed Poole to the California's Commission on Transportation Investment and he also served on the Caltrans Privatization Advisory Steering Committee, where he helped oversee the implementation of AB 680.

From 2003 to 2005, he was a member of the Transportation Research Board's special committee on the long-term viability of the fuel tax for highway finance. In 2008 he served as a member of the Texas Study Committee on Private Participation in Toll Roads, appointed by Gov. Rick Perry. In 2009, he was a member of an Expert Review Panel for Washington State DOT, advising on a $1.5 billion toll mega-project. In 2010, he was a member of the transportation transition team for Florida's Governor-elect Rick Scott. He is a member of two TRB standing committees: Congestion Pricing and Managed Lanes.


Poole is a member of the Government Accountability Office's National Aviation Studies Advisory Panel and he has testified before the House and Senate's aviation subcommittees on numerous occasions. Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Poole consulted the White House Domestic Policy Council and the leadership of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.

He has also advised the Federal Aviation Administration, Office of the Secretary of Transportation, White House Office of Policy Development, National Performance Review, National Economic Council, and the National Civil Aviation Review Commission on aviation issues. Poole is a member of the Critical Infrastructure Council of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation and of the Air Traffic Control Association.

Poole was among the first to propose the commercialization of the U.S. air traffic control system, and his work in this field has helped shape proposals for a U.S. air traffic control corporation. A version of his corporation concept was implemented in Canada in 1996 and was more recently endorsed by several former top FAA administrators.

Poole's studies also launched a national debate on airport privatization in the United States. He advised both the FAA and local officials during the 1989-90 controversy over the proposed privatization of Albany (NY) Airport. His policy research on this issue helped inspire Congress' 1996 enactment of the Airport Privatization Pilot Program and the privatization of Indianapolis' airport management under Mayor Steve Goldsmith.

General Background

Robert Poole co-founded the Reason Foundation with Manny Klausner and Tibor Machan in 1978, and served as its president and CEO from then until the end of 2000. He was a member of the Bush-Cheney transition team in 2000. Over the years, he has advised the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations on privatization and transportation policy.

Poole is credited as the first person to use the term "privatization" to refer to the contracting-out of public services and is the author of the first-ever book on privatization, Cutting Back City Hall, published by Universe Books in 1980. He is also editor of the books Instead of Regulation: Alternatives to Federal Regulatory Agencies (Lexington Books, 1981), Defending a Free Society (Lexington Books, 1984), and Unnatural Monopolies (Lexington Books, 1985). He also co-edited the book Free Minds & Free Markets: 25 Years of Reason (Pacific Research Institute, 1993).

Poole has written hundreds of articles, papers, and policy studies on privatization and transportation issues. His popular writings have appeared in national newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, and numerous other publications. He has also been a guest on network television programs such as Good Morning America, NBC's Nightly News, ABC's World News Tonight, and the CBS Evening News. Poole writes a monthly column on transportation issues for Public Works Financing.

Poole earned his B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and did graduate work in operations research at New York University.

Chris Swenson, president of CRSPE, Inc., has been involved in numerous aspects of transportation engineering and planning for 23 years. Mr. Swenson is nationally known for his
work in the development of market-based transportation demand management programs, particularly variably priced tolls. He has personally supervised Project Development and Environment (PD&E) studies, the development of area-wide master plans, and large transportation corridor planning projects, as well as traditional and non-traditional transportation financing projects. While much of Mr. Swenson's experience is in his home state of Florida, he has also supervised or participated in transportation studies in California, Nevada, Texas, Oregon, Virginia and Arizona. Mr. Swenson has authored multiple papers and has presented at numerous conferences including the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board, annual meetings of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the annual meeting of ITS America, and the ITS World Congress. Mr. Swenson received a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree in 1984 from the Georgia Institute of Technology followed by a Master of Science in Civil Engineering, also from the Georgia Institute of Technology, in 1985. Mr. Swenson is a registered engineer in the state of Florida.