January 25, 2015

Environment | Engineering

Trendsetters: Environment, Engineering

Mike Vogel | 9/1/2007

Fast Lane

Jack Finn [Photo: Greg Matthews]

Jack Finn
HNTB Senior vice president, national director of toll services, Lake Mary
Where he spent his summer vacation: Lake Tahoe
Formerly: HNTB’s northeast division president
Extracurricular: Advisory board member, Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority, the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, the Colorado Tolling Enterprise and the New Jersey Turnpike

Maybe it’s genetic. As the son of a highway engineer in New Jersey, Jack Finn saw lots of roadway construction. Now at 51, he’s head of the national toll way practice for HNTB, the same Kansas City-based firm for which his father worked.

Finn travels Florida and the nation, even to a White House transportation summit, as HNTB’s toll expert. Florida leads a “huge push” nationally for toll roads, he says, citing a Florida transportation department study finding that 91% of new expressways in Florida have been toll roads. North Carolina, which doesn’t have a single toll road, is moving toward them. Texas, California and Florida, the big three in tolls, are expanding.

HNTB is the primary engineer, known as the general engineering consultant, for the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority, the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority and 23 others nationally and has done work for more, including the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, Florida’s Turnpike and the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority. Toll authorities account for $150 million of the firm’s $750 million in annual revenue.

The heyday of toll way construction began in 1939, with the start of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the first modern toll road. It played out in the 1950s as interstate highway system funds couldn’t be used for toll roads. Florida’s Turnpike was completed in 1957.

But the inability of the federal gas tax to keep up with highway construction demand, electronic tolling, a citizen shift toward wanting users of particular highways to pay for their construction and the pluses of congestion pricing to ease traffic flow are bringing toll ways back.

Congestion pricing lanes have been tagged “Lexus Lanes,” a misnomer, Finn says. They actually make all traffic move faster and are used by a cross-section of society. “There’s a high satisfaction rate on every economic level. It’s a good option for the public,” Finn says.

Tags: Trendsetters, North Central, Environment, Housing/Construction

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