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MTA, CalTrans changing carpool to toll lanes to ease traffic

July 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
There will soon be a new option for drivers trying to beat gridlock. Some carpool lanes on the Harbor and San Bernardino freeways are being converted into toll lanes.

A ceremonial groundbreaking was held in Gardena Wednesday morning.

For commuters it could be one more way to avoid congestion. Lanes that are currently reserved for carpools will be opened to drivers traveling alone for a price.

"I think it would be a great idea to break up traffic," said motorist Al Querios. "Because it does get congested and it would be able to free it up instead of just one means of doing it."

The plan would affect the carpool lanes on the 110 Harbor Freeway and lanes on the Interstate 10. Drivers will have to purchase radio transponders that would log their mileage.

The MTA believes the project would generate thousands of jobs as well as millions of dollars in revenue, which would go back into more traffic improvements.

"We have to better manage the infrastructure we have," said Rick Jager from the MTA. "We don't have the money to expand the freeway system, we don't have the property to expand the system, so we have to take a look at some innovative solutions to the current infrastructure we have."

The price of the toll depends on what time drivers are traveling in the lanes, as well as the distance driven. For instance, traveling along Interstate 10 during rush hour could cost up to $15.

"Fifteen dollars, that's way too much," said motorist Mike Leonard. "That's quite pricey right there."

"That's a little pricey," said motorist John Haynie. "When in actuality most people would find alternative routes either on the street or something a little bit faster."

The MTA estimates the cost for most drivers would be closer to $5 or $6. While some drivers insist they won't pay for it, Metro and CalTrans are betting time is money for many drivers, and that the toll to save time will be worth it.

The lanes on the 110 Freeway should be up and running sometime in 2012, and the lanes on Interstate 10 sometime in 2013.

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