Following on the heels of the successful opening of 11-miles of Metro ExpressLanes along the Harbor Freeway and with more than 50,000 Fastrak® ExpressLanes transponders issued, motorists this week will begin seeing messages on the giant display message boards along the
I-10 San Bernardino Freeway in preparation for the opening of the ExpressLanes along this stretch of freeway in early 2013.
The large electronic digital ExpressLane message boards will display information regarding the program. No date has been set for the official opening of the ExpressLanes along the 10 San Bernardino Freeway but work is progressing for a possible late January/early February opening.
“We encourage San Gabriel Valley commuters to get their FasTrak transponders now so they will be ready to enjoy all the benefits of the ExpressLanes when the lanes open on the 10 freeway next year,” said Duarte Mayor and Metro Board Member John Fasana. “With the successful opening of the I-110 ExpressLanes, we look forward to seeing how the I-10 ExpressLanes will reduce traffic congestion in the San Gabriel Valley.”
Metro, in partnership with Caltrans, is embarking on a one-year demonstration program that converts 11 miles of HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes on the I-110 (Harbor Freeway Transitway) between the 91 Freeway and Adams Boulevard near downtown Los Angeles and 14 miles on the I-10 San Bernardino Freeway between Union Station/Alameda Street and the I-605 Freeway to HOT (High Occupany Toll) lanes that allow solo drivers to use the lanes for a toll. The Harbor Freeway ExpressLanes opened to the public on Saturday, Nov. 10.
The ExpressLanes program seeks to reduce congestion by improving travel choices in the two corridors. Carpools, vanpools, and motorcycles will travel toll free. All will need a FasTrak® transponder to travel in the ExpressLanes.
When the I-10 ExpressLanes open next year, the rules for carpools on the I-10 freeway will stay the same as they are today. Carpools are three or more people traveling during peak travel times of 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, with holidays excluded. During peak travel times, carpools of just two people can travel in the I-10 San Bernardino ExpressLanes for a toll. All other times, they will travel toll-free in the Expresslanes.
At all times on both freeways, the general purpose lanes are not tolled. Net toll revenues will be reinvested in the corridor where they are generated for transportation improvements. To prevent backups in the ExpressLanes, the tolls will be adjusted from .25 cents a mile to a maximum of $1.40 a mile and will increase as the number of vehicles in the ExpressLanes increase.
Construction workers have been busy over the last year installing a host of power and utility support units needed for the operation of the dynamic message signs (DMS) along the I-10 San Bernardino Freeway corridor. These signs will begin their testing phase this week displaying information regarding the ExpressLanes program. The testing will continue until the system is opened to the public in early 2013.
In addition, work continues along the I-10 San Bernardino Freeway as workers install various toll transponder readers and freeway signs.
For now, the carpool lanes are still operating on the I-10 freeway until the conversion to Metro ExpressLanes, so solo drivers cannot use FasTrak on the I-10 freeway until the ExpressLanes open next year. As part of the testing of equipment, carpools with a FasTrak transponder may hear a beep when traveling in the HOV lane on the I-10 freeway. This means the equipment has detected the transponder but no tolls are being assessed and no information is being transmitted.
Along the I-10 freeway, an additional toll lane is being constructed in each direction between the 605 and the 710 freeways to add capacity along that heavily traveled corridor. Prior to the ExpressLanes, there was only one carpool lane operating in each direction along the El Monte Busway. None of the general purpose lanes will be taken away to convert the lanes and make the improvements.
Metro encourages those planning on using the new ExpressLanes to open an account and get their transponders now. To open a FasTrak account and receive an ExpressLanes switchable transponder:
Call 511 and say “ExpressLanes”
Visit walk-in centers at 500 W. 190th Street in Gardena or at the El Monte Station, 3501 Santa Anita Avenue, El Monte
Mail an application, which is available online, to Metro ExpressLanes, PO Box 3878, Gardena, CA 90247
The costs vary depending on payment methods. Drivers who open their accounts with a credit or debit card will pay $40 and the transponder deposit will be waived. The $40 will be applied to any tolls incurred while driving solo in the Metro ExpressLanes. There is a $3 monthly account fee, which will go into effect when the I-10 Freeway Expresslanes open early next year. The monthly fee is waived after four one-way trips in the Metro ExpressLanes and/or on travel on eligible transit in the ExpressLanes corridor.
Discounts are available. Members of the Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) can open a Metro ExpressLanes FasTrak® account at a discounted price of $32 by visiting www.AAA.com/metroexpresslanes or visiting their local AAA office. In addition, 21 participating Costco stores throughout Los Angeles County are providing a 10 percent discount to their members who open up accounts at their stores. Participating Albertson stores also are providing a 10 percent discount to their customers who open accounts.
In a first for an ExpressLanes project, low-income commuters can receive a $25 toll credit when setting up an Equity Plan account, and the transponder deposit will be waived. They must reside in Los Angeles County and have an annual income below $37,061 for a family of three. There is a limit of one Equity Plan account per household.The Metro ExpressLanes program is a $290 million project funded by a $210 million federal grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation as part of the Congestion Reduction Demonstration Program. Nearly $120 million is going towards actual construction costs associated with the toll lanes. The remainder of the money is being used to improve various transportation hubs along the two corridors including the Harbor Gateway Transit Center along the 110 freeway and the construction of a new El Monte Station along the I-10 freeway. In addition, the project funded the purchase of 59 new clean fuel buses to provide additional bus service along the two corridors and 100 new vanpools.
The ExpressLanes project is being constructed by Atkinson Contractors, LP under contract to Metro. The contractor was competitively selected to design-build-operate-and-maintain the ExpressLanes project. The Atkinson team included AECOM for design and Xerox/ACS Inc. for tolling integration.