As gas tax revenues shrink, Metro repairs escalate and traffic congestion worsens, transportation experts say the Washington region needs to find new ways to cope.

One of their proposals is for communities to share the burden of paying for transportation improvements.

The communities would form a regional infrastructure bank that could leverage larger loans to pay for major regional projects, such as bridges and mass transit, experts said.

"If we're in this rich and valuable of a region, shouldn't we be able to find a way to finance some of our regional infrastructure needs?" asked George Mason University professor Jonathan Gifford.

Gifford said a regional bank could help overcome political conflicts over transportation priorities and make the region more economically competitive.

Jacques Gansler, director of the Center of Public Policy and Private Enterprise at the University of Maryland, said local infrastructure suffers because Virginia, Maryland and D.C. don't work together enough and don't have any regional revenue sources.

"People don't think regionally," he said.