FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Remarks Prepared for Delivery Deputy Secretary of Transportation Mortimer Downey Lee County Value Pricing Inaugural

FORT MYERS, FL, August 3, 1998 --Thank you, Commissioner Albion, for that introduction. Thank you, Father McGinnis, for the invocation, and thank you, Karen Forsyth, for that beautiful rendition of our national anthem. Iím glad to join you and Chairman Manning, Commissioner St. Cerny, Commissioner Judah, and Commissioner Coy. Floridaís Gulf Coast ranks with the most beautiful regions of the U.S., with its blue waters, its white beaches, and its superb climate. Itís no wonder that Lee County is one of the fastest-growing areas in the country. This means prosperity and all of the other benefits that such growth brings, but it also can mean some things that arenít so desirable, such as traffic congestion. Iíve heard people say that congestion is like Mark Twainís weather, everybody always complains about it, but nobody ever does anything about it. Thatís never been quite true, and itís certainly not true today. "Lee County is preventing congestion from becoming a major problem, and at the same time itís doing something to improve the quality of life for area families. President Clinton has encouraged us to support you when you try such innovative approaches to helping people get to where they need to go." This morning, Lee County is doing something about congestion, preventing it from becoming a major problem, and at the same time itís doing something to improve the quality of life for area families. Starting today, tolls on the Cape Coral and Midpoint Memorial bridges will be cut in half in the periods around the morning and evening rush hours. That should encourage drivers to shift their trips out of rush hour, helping to reduce congestion. The drivers who travel during those shoulder periods will save money, and those who still need to travel during rush hour will save time because of reduced traffic. Thatís what I call a win-win proposition. Thereís a technical name for what Lee County is doing, and itís called "value pricing." That can mean anything from charging tolls to allowing people to drive in carpool lanes, for a fee. What these strategies have in common is that they apply the law of supply and demand to highway travel. Itís the same principle that utilities use to price electric power, and that telephone companies use to price calls. Pricing can be a valuable tool for states and localities searching for solutions to their traffic problems, and so President Clinton has encouraged us to support you when you try such innovative approaches to helping people get to where they need to go. The President recently signed a new, $198 billion transportation bill which, among other things, lets us continue sponsoring value pricing demonstrations around the country. In adopting these discounts, Lee County joins a select group of national pioneers, such as San Diego and Houston. Lee County also is showing leadership by letting its county employees adopt compressed work weeks, flextime, and other alternative work schedules, all of which let them commute outside of rush hour. This step not only reduces traffic, but itís also family-friendly, enabling workers to arrange their schedules to meet child care needs and all the other demands todayís hard-working families face. Not everyoneís job is right for flexible work schedules, but I hope other area employers will consider these schedules whenever itís feasible. They make workers happier and more productive, and they help to avoid congestion for everyone else. Let me close by congratulating Lee County for its vision in trying these strategies. The people of Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and the other towns in this area will be the real winners, saving time, saving money, and enjoying a better quality of life. Thank you. # # # (In his remarks, the Deputy Secretary referred to Lee County Commissioner John Albion, Father John McGinnis, Karen Forsyth, Director of County Lands, Commission Chair John Manning, Commissioner Douglas St. Cerny, Commissioner Ray Judah, and Commissioner Andrew Coy.) Briefing Room