Los Angeles is on the Express Lane to Congestion Management
Officials announce the opening of the first HOT lanes in Los Angeles County.
(Click on photos to enlarge and read captions)
Four years after Los Angeles received a $210 million federal grant to fund a congestion pricing demonstration project, the much-anticipated Metro ExpressLanes opened on the Harbor Freeway (I-110).
On November 10, 2012, the first High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes in Los Angeles County were activated on I-110 on an 11-mile stretch between Adams Boulevard and the Artesia Freeway (SR 91). A second, 14-mile phase on the San Bernardino Freeway (I-10) between Alameda Street and the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605) will open early this year.
The project, a partnership between Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), is extremely significant in that it seeks to reduce congestion by improving travel choices along the two corridors. Solo drivers, currently not allowed to use the carpool lanes, will be allowed to use the lanes for a toll. Carpools, transit, vanpools, and motorcycles will travel toll free. The general purpose lanes are not tolled. All motorists traveling in the ExpressLanes need a transponder.
A press event announcing the opening was held on November 9, featuring: Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board member Mark Ridley-Thomas; Metro Board member and City of Duarte Mayor John Fasana; California Highway Patrol Southern Division Chief Dan Bower; Metro CEO Art Leahy; and District 7 Freeway Operations Chief Marco Ruano.
Ruano called the event a historic day for all the regional and local agencies, the city of Los Angeles and those who rely on transportation providers to make their lives a little easier. “You know we’ve had a long and proud history here at Caltrans of bringing innovative solutions to this region’s transportation problems,” he said, citing the first Transportation Management Center, the first ramp meter, the Freeway Service Patrol and others. “Some of these programs have been in place for more than 40 years.”
Caltrans implemented the El Monte Busway, the first High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane in the country and now have the nation’s largest carpool lane system at more than 500 operational miles and growing, Ruano said.
Carpool lane utilization has been so successful, in fact, that it has become necessary to find new efficiencies. System management is Caltrans current strategy. “We’ve evolved from the great freeway builders of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s to become better freeway operators and traffic managers,” Ruano said. “Because we can’t build our way out of congestion, we have to be smart about the capacity we add and maximize the system we already have in place. Clearly, this program is consistent with those goals.”
In preparation for Phase II, Caltrans is hosting a second museum exhibit featuring the project.
Beginning January 7 and ending February 1, the exhibit consists of displays, videos and photos that will provide extensive information to the public about ExpressLanes and obtaining transponders, a historical look at the Harbor Freeway and the San Bernardino Freeway carpool lanes as well as LA Express Park.
“ExpressLanes on the 110 freeway are operating as anticipated and providing Los Angeles motorists with an exciting new transportation option,” said Caltrans District 7 Director Mike Miles. “We are really looking forward to opening the lanes on I-10 and think this timely museum exhibit will help answer any remaining questions and encourage more people to embrace the congestion pricing concept.”