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Solo drivers to pay toll to drive in HOV lanes

November 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Driving solo in the carpool lane, for a price -- it's a plan that's under serious consideration by Los Angeles County officials as they try and ease congestion on a number of local freeways. In about two years, the carpool lanes along the 110 Freeway will be turned into toll roads. That means solo drivers will be able to access the carpool lane for a price. The same will happen along a stretch of the I-10. Now MTA is considering an expansion of that program to several other freeways, including one on the Westside.

The average commuter in L.A. County spends about 70 hours a year stuck in traffic.

"Getting around Los Angeles makes it much harder to live here," said Altadena resident Margaret Briggs.

Briggs says she fully supports the idea of turning carpool lanes into toll roads.

"Because I hate the traffic and it determines where I go or where I don't go," said Briggs.

In an effort to combat L.A.'s legendary traffic woes, the county's Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering a plan that would create several high-occupancy toll lanes. The so-called "Hot Lanes" would allow solo drivers to access carpool lanes on the 105 Freeway between the 405 and 605 freeways; along the 405 from the 105 to the I-5 north of Los Angeles International Airport. The plan also includes the 91 Freeway, from the I-10 to the Orange County line. And finally, the I-10 between the 605 Freeway and the San Bernardino County line.

"Very preliminary at this point," said Metro official Stephanie Wiggins. "We are just providing information on a very general technical assessment. A more detailed analysis and work would need to be done to come to a decision point on further implementation."

The MTA and Caltrans are already converting existing carpool lanes into hot lanes along parts of the I-10 and parts of the 110. Those conversions should be complete by 2012.

"Our pilot programs that are moving forward are a very important factor in determining what the future of hot lanes are in L.A. County's mobility package," said Wiggins.

But some say that toll roads are not the answer.

"That's gas money," said L.A. resident William Feimster. "That's a gallon of gas right now. Gas going up too so I'd be thinking about what I've got to pay for gas rather than that toll fee."

The expansion of that hot lane program is only under consideration right now. It's a preliminary plan. It will be presented to a committee on Wednesday and then the full MTA board some time in December.


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