Will HOV lanes be converted to congestion pricing toll lanes? Read the study

Click above to download the study.

As many of you know, Metro is already in the process of converting HOV lanes on parts of the 10 and 110 freeways into congestion pricing toll lanes.

The project’s official name is ExpressLanes and the idea is to give motorists a chance to speed up their commutes by paying to use the carpool lanes while also allowing most of those who already use the lanes for free to continue to do so.

As part of that effort, Metro also commissioned a study on whether it may be feasible to convert carpool lanes on other freeways into congestion pricing lanes. The study is going to be discussed in the Metro Board of Directors’ ad hoc congestion pricing committee on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at Metro headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

Here’s the key paragraphs of the study:

The Study analyzed six factors:

•Capacity of Existing HOV segments (includes under utilization and over utilization).

•Constructability (includes availability of full standard shoulders and lanes, rightof-way constraints,topography, cut/viaduct section, and presence of rail/light rail tracks or major above-ground utilities adjacent to the HOV facility).

•Revenue Potential.

•Connectivity to HOV and Express Lane facilities.

•Transit Benefits (includes potential to improve transit services in corridor).

•Public Perception.

Key Study findings are as follows:

•Constructability: SR60 (Brea Canyon Road to Azusa Avenue) rated the highest for ease of constructability. Followed by 1-105, SR14, and SR57. These facilities have the preponderance of standard land and shoulder widths, available right-of-way, flat topography, at-grade segments, and minimal interference with utilities and rights-of-way. Five HOV facilities rated medium in this category: I-5, I-210, I-405 north of LAX, I-405 South, and SR60 (SR57-SR71).

•Revenue Potential: 1-405 North of LAX rated the highest for revenue generating potential. Four HOV facilities rated medium in this category: 1-105, 1-210, SR14, and SR91.

•Connectivity: I-605 rated the highest in this category, followed by I-5, and I-105.

•Transit Benefits: I-5 rated the highest in this category, followed by I-10, and I-405 north of LAX.

Based on the Study findings, the following HOV facilities would appear to demonstrate comparatively strong potential for HOT conversion and would be recommended for further assessment in the event additional studies are undertaken in Los Angeles County:

•I-105, from 1-405 to 1-605.

•I-405, from 1-105 to 1-5 north of LAX.

•SR91, from 1-1 10 to the Orange County Line.

•SR57, from SR60 to the Orange County Line.

•Additional consideration may also be warranted for the I-10 between 1-605 and the San Bernardino County Line.

It should be noted that these assessments have been prepared at a preliminary sketch level and that more detailed implementation feasibility assessments, including formal public outreach, would be required should any candidate corridors be advanced from further consideration for a possible HOV to HOT conversion.

Something for everyone in reader-land to keep in mind. The ExpressLanes project is being funded largely by the federal government as a one-year trial to see if the congestion pricing lanes will work. I think it’s unlikely any future projects will be taken on until the results of this one are known and the ExpressLanes aren’t due to open until 2012 at the earliest.

6 replies

  1. Steve,
    It sure would be nice if LA Metro would be very clear that EVERYONE will need a transponder to use the existing I-10 and I-110 HOV system after the conversion to HOT.

    Unlike some jurisdictions which have chosen to just allow 3-plus occupant vehicles to pass for free and without need for transponder account using visual confirmation, LA Metro WILL FORCE ALL EXISTING CARPOOLERS to get at tracking device and set up an account with the FasTrak system.

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  2. The study should have, but did not address the key factor of automobile availability during the expected leasing period of the toll lanes.

    With the International Energy Agency recently having acknowledged peak oil,

    nobody can pretend that Americans will be able to continue to use gasoline as profligately as they have until recently. Simply put, fewer people will drive and they will drive less.

    Which means that today’s congestion problems will be reduced, making the toll lanes superfluous.

    When will this happen? It is already starting, but will become noticeable within 10 years– in any case, within the lifetime of whatever lease the toll operator obtains.

    This is a bridge-to-nowhere project – construction jobs now, deferred maintenance and unused infrastructure later, along with payouts for unneeded services. Just abort this project. It’s a stupid idea.

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  3. Considering that the conversion of the I-10 and I-110 HOV lanes to Express Lanes is running behind schedule (and probably over budget) and that it’s supposed to determine whether this idea even works, why would anyone be wasting money on future projects that might not even be warranted?

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  4. Jackie –

    You’re assuming that cars can only run on oil and that it is impossible to run on any other type of fuel.

    As oil becomes less available, we’ll simply switch over to other energy sources to power our vehicles. It’s doubtful that we will just abandon cars altogther.

    I don’t really like the idea of toll lanes but since the people in this state are obsessed with blocking any kind of transportation expansion, it may be an option we have to look at.

    Our traffic trouble springs from not completing the freeway system or building other transportation infrastructure to accomdate the growth because of NIMBYs and crazy environmental regulation.

    Rich communities like Beverly Hills blocked both the freeway and subway from running through their precious town. South Pasadena continues to block the 710 extension DESPITE Caltrans and Metro bending over backwards to make it have a minimal impact. This simply forces traffic through less affluent areas subjecting those people to increased pollution and congestion.

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