Though the idea has been talked about for quite some time, High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes are soon coming to two Southern California freeways. Construction is underway on a $290 million project on I-10 from I-605 to Alameda St. and I-110 from Artesia Transit Center to Adams Blvd. in order to improve the two roadways so that current High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes can be converted to HOT lanes. This strategy is known as “congestion pricing” and will be a trial, one-year project overseen by Metro and Caltrans, among others.
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, Richard Katz and Mayor Villaraigosa pose for pictures during a recent HOT lane groundbreaking ceremony. Photo:L.A. Weekly
According to Metro, on I-10:
The budget will cover the toll technology, toll infrastructure and operational improvements required to complete the conversion. This project will also provide additional ExpressLanes capacity on the El Monte Busway between I-710 and I-605 through re-striping and buffer changes. No general purpose lanes are taken away to create the second ExpressLane between I-710 and I-605.
And over on I-110:
This project will convert existing HOV lanes from 182nd Street/Artesia Transit Center to Adams Boulevard into ExpressLanes (38 lane miles). The budget will cover the toll technology, toll infrastructure and operational improvements required to complete the conversion.
Along with a projected easing of traffic congestion, Metro expects to see a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in these areas. Other benefits include travel time savings and trip reliability.
Just how will pricing work? Well, dynamic pricing will be in effect. That means:
Tolls are continually adjusted according to traffic conditions to maintain a free-flowing level of traffic on the HOT lanes. (General purpose lanes are not tolled.) Prices increase when the HOT lanes get relatively full and decrease when the HOT lanes get less full.
In order to collect tolls smoothly and efficiently, this new system will utilize electronic toll collection methods via a transponder in your vehicle which communicates with the roadway in order to figure your toll and link to an online account. There will be no toll booths associated with the HOT lanes.
However, not everyone is excited about HOT lanes making their way to Southern California. Detractors argue that the new system creates an unfair playing field of “haves and have-nots.” This school of thought maintains that our freeways are a taxpayer-financed public resource and should be left open and available to everyone in full. In short, lanes are not for sale.
So, where do you fall on the continuum? Will this pilot program work? Will we be seeing more HOT lanes on our freeways in the future? Weigh in below in the comments section.