The same way electric utilities entice consumers to conserve to avoid building a new power plant, transportation planners could encourage people to drive less to avoid building costly highways.
"Under the old way of thinking, the solution to a traffic bottleneck would be: Build more lanes and invite more cars onto the highway," Kulongoski said. "Under a least-cost model, we look for solutions that cost less and have a smaller negative impact on the environment."
The governor revealed some details of a transportation finance package he plans to make his top priority in next year's legislative session. A committee of business leaders and government transportation officials has spent months coming up with ideas for Kulongoski and the Legislature to take up in January.
Phase out hybrid credit?
The committee will recommend that state tax credits for gas-electric hybrid cars, such as the Toyota Prius, be phased out, Kulongoski said. They would be replaced with credits for all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids the industry is testing, which could run at 100 miles or more per gallon.
Oregon will convert 10 state-owned standard Prius hybrids to use electric plug-ins, he said, and pledged to make the state's fleet a showcase of the Japanese company's most efficient cars as they become available to save money on gas, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost the state's green image.
And still further:
Impressive goals and visions were the order of the day. Toyota executives touted a 2010 rollout of plug-in hybrid cars for commercial fleets and planned mass production of hydrogen fuel-cell cars.
Michael Meyer, a Georgia Tech professor, said policymakers shouldn't focus so much on fuel efficiency, but instead reduce driving by encouraging mixed-use development and demand traffic reduction strategies such as tolling.