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PRICED NEW LANES

CALIFORNIA: Express Lanes on State Route 91 in Orange County

The State Route 91 (SR 91) express lanes opened in December 1995 as a four-lane toll facility in the median of a 10-mile section of one of the most heavily congested highways in the U.S. Toll revenues have been adequate to pay for construction and operating costs. The toll lanes are separated from the general purpose lanes by a painted buffer and plastic pylons. In the toll schedule effective August 1, 2003, tolls on the express lanes vary between $1.00 and $4.74, with the tolls set by time of day to reflect the level of congestion delay avoided in the adjacent free lanes, and to maintain free-flowing traffic conditions on the toll lanes. All vehicles must have a "FasTrak" transponder to travel on the express lanes. Beginning in May 2003, vehicles with three or more occupants travel free except when traveling Eastbound, Monday through Friday between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., when they pay 50 percent of the regular toll. This policy also applies to individuals on a motorcycle. Other toll discount offers are extended to zero-emission vehicles and vehicles with disabled person's license plates.

There were over 143,000 transponders in circulation at the end of Fiscal Year 03. During the six month period ending June 30th, the facility served almost 5 million vehicles, averaging over 27,000 vehicles per day, with approximately $13 million in gross potential revenue. The Express Lanes carry over 40 percent of the total SR-91 traffic during heavily congested periods, even though they comprise only one-third of the total freeway capacity. This amounts to a 33 percent higher throughout per Express Lane, relative to the general-purpose lanes. The higher throughput occurs because freeway vehicle throughput under free flow conditions is significantly higher than when it is congested.

July - September 2003 update: This successful VPPP project is still operating under the Orange County Transportation Agency, changing from private to public ownership in January 2003. OCTA adopted a progressive new toll policy in July 2003 that builds on the road's successful congestions-management pricing philosophy.

OCTA, Riverside County and Caltrans officials developed the SR-91 Implementation Plan to determine what projects would improve the commute for all 250,000 daily drivers along the 91 corridor in the shortest amount of time. Completed in June 2003, the plan mapped out a series of ambitious projects to open bottlenecks, fix chokepoints and improve interchanges and connectors for the 91 Freeway between the 55 Freeway and Interstate 15.

The plan's short-term projects will direct $90 million to help relieve major freeway bottlenecks during the next five years, including adding auxiliary lanes and improving transit options for commuters. Mid-term projects over the next decade include spending $20 million to add freeway lanes as well as create intermediate access to the 91 Express Lanes. At the same time, Riverside County has launched $498 million in planned improvements for the 91 Freeway in Riverside County. Both counties are funding a joint $3.3 million study of major long-term improvements, including such as a high speed rail line, elevated freeway lanes and an additional freeway.

For More Information Contact: Ellen Burton, OCTA, General Manager, 91 Express Lanes; Phone (714) 560-6282; e-mail eburton@octa.net.

CALIFORNIA: HOT Lanes on I-680 in Alameda County

The Alameda County Congestion Management Agency is investigating design concepts and feasibility of new High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on a 14-mile portion of I-680 connecting residential areas in the north and east to the job centers of Silicon Valley in the south. Currently, I-680 is a six-lane facility with three mixed-flow lanes in each direction. Traffic is highly congested southbound in the a.m. peak and northbound in the p.m. peak. Considerable growth in traffic demand is anticipated. A new southbound lane opened as an HOV lane in December 2002, and a new northbound lane is expected to open as an HOV lane in 2005. The study is reviewing various design concepts for HOT lanes. Major design options under consideration include: one HOT lane in each direction, two reversible HOT lanes in the peak direction, and an additional (ninth) lane in the median that would be reversible HOT.

July -- September 2003 update: The feasibility study is complete. It concluded that the proposal to utilize the planned high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on Interstate 680 as combined HOV and high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes is found to be financially, operationally, and physically feasible. The recommended separation treatment between the HOV/HOT lanes and the adjacent mixed-flow lanes is solid striping, with limited ingress/egress locations for HOV and HOT users. A combination of electronic toll collection, video surveillance, and enhanced highway patrol enforcement would assure an acceptably high level of compliance by HOV and HOT users. The HOV/HOT lane system components could be flexibly adjusted as changes in traffic and economic conditions warrant and could be implemented as a pilot project. Revenues generated from the system could be used for improvements on the corridor, including capital improvements and enhanced transit service. However, implementation faces several challenges, primarily institutional rather than technical. The final report will be available in November 2003. The Board of Directors for the CMA accepted the findings of the study and approved proceeding with a demonstration project.

For More Information Contact: Jean Hart, Deputy Director, Alameda County Congestion Management Agency; Phone (510) 836-2560, Fax (510) 836-2185, e-mail jhart@accma.ca.gov.

CALIFORNIA: Extension of I-15 HOT Lanes in San Diego

The I-15 HOT lanes (described in the previous section on "Converting HOV Lanes to HOT Lanes") may be extended to create a 20-mile "Managed Lanes" facility in the median of Interstate 15 between State Route 163 and State Route 78. When completed, there will be a four-lane facility in the median with a moveable barrier, multiple access points from the regular highway lanes, and direct access ramps for buses from five transit centers. A high frequency Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system also will be operated in these managed lanes. Seven pricing alternatives were considered. All alternatives included either dynamic or time-of-day pricing fluctuation. A preferred pricing alternative has been approved. It involves a skewed per mile rate, which would vary the toll based on where the customer enters.

July - September 2003 update: SANDAG is working with FHWA regarding leftover monies to facilitate this project. Any remaining funds from the managed lanes study will be addressed. Any needed final reporting for Caltrans and FHWA will be prepared. Final report available.

For More Information Contact: Derek Toups, San Diego Association of Governments; Phone (619) 595-5300, e-mail dto@sandag.org.

CALIFORNIA: HOT Lanes in Median of State Route 1 in Santa Cruz County

A five-mile section of State Route 1 is proposed for widening. The facility is currently a four-lane divided freeway. The segment operates under severe congestion during weekday peak hours and extended periods on summer weekends. Within the study corridor limits there are seven interchanges. Five HOT lane alternatives were studied in detail, including: (1) one lane in each direction with barrier separation, no intermediate access; (2) one lane in each direction, with buffer separation, no intermediate access; (3) one lane in each direction with striped separation, 1 or 2 intermediate access points; (4) one lane in each direction with striped separation, continuous access; and (5) one reversible lane with barrier separation, no intermediate access. The results of the study indicated that HOT lanes in the study corridor would be subject to a number of design and operation constraints, due to the short study corridor, multiple interchanges on the adjacent main lanes, and anticipated high levels of HOV traffic. In June 2002, the Regional Transportation Commission voted not to include a HOT lane alternative in further consideration, however it did select a carpool lane alternative with a footprint that would allow conversion to a HOT lane at a future date, should demand warrant it.

July - September 2003 update: Since Phase II will not be undertaken; some funds will be leftover in this study (around $68,000). As such, FHWA and Caltrans will work with SCCRTC to closeout the contract. The Final Report is available on the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission's website (http://www.sccrtc.org/highway.html#hot). There are no additional activities expected on this project.

For More Information Contact: Karena Pushnik, Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission; Phone (831) 460-3210; e-mail karena.pushnik@co.santa-cruz.ca.us.

COLORADO: HOT Lane on C-470 in Denver

A study was initiated to assess the design, operational, and financial feasibility, as well as expected public acceptance and use of HOT lanes as part of the potential widening of the 27-mile length of C-470 in the southwest quadrant of the Denver metro area, from US 6 to I-25. C-470 is a four-lane beltway with 18 interchanges, including the end points. Commuters are typically destined to the Denver Technological Center and adjacent offices, a regional employment hub with over 100,000 employees. The segments that do not currently experience severe congestion are all projected to experience such conditions by 2020. Future projected traffic volumes indicate that a phased implementation of added toll lanes may be viable. The study is an outgrowth of the recommendations of a recently completed regional feasibility study of "Value Express Lanes."

The project team executed a consultant contract on February 21, 2003 and issued the first task order on March 14, 2003. The task order covers approximately three months worth of work, which includes project initiation, public involvement services, data collection of existing conditions, completion of project management plan, and project schedule. The project team initiated Federal and local agency coordination and public outreach efforts. The data collection of existing conditions continues on schedule.

July - September 2003 update: Data collection of existing traffic condition is complete and a baseline focus group was conducted. The project team examined innovative financing techniques that might be employed to fund the project and researched other congestion pricing issues. Public education on the Express Lane concept continues on schedule.

For More Information Contact: Ron Buck, Colorado Department of Transportation; Phone (303) 972-9112, e-mail ron.buck@dot.state.co.us.

FLORIDA: Priced Queue Jumps in Lee County

This project follows on a $309,280 grant provided in FY 2000 for a feasibility study of Queue Jumps in Lee County, Florida. The feasibility analysis indicated that while queue jumps did not appear to be a good candidate for traditional toll bond financing, they are nonetheless financially feasible. The analysis has shown favorable public acceptance. Lee County DOT and FDOT are experienced partners in efforts to introduce pricing. The final report and a Monitoring and Evaluation Plan are complete and available.

FY03 funds are for two separate Queue Jump projects: one at Summerlin Road and San Carlos Boulevard and one at Metro Parkway and Colonial Boulevard. Funds would pay for critical project development and design costs, as well as Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) and Visual Enforcement Systems. Costs for monitoring and evaluation efforts and outreach tasks are also included.

A Queue Jump is a facility that can be used to bypass points on the transportation network where congestion is particularly severe and occurs in a predictable pattern. Tolls would vary by time of day and would be levied electronically, and would be tied in with the County's existing ETC system. A significant characteristic of queue jumps is their ability to generate revenue for needed roadway improvements while simultaneously contributing to travel demand management.

Goals of this effort include traffic demand management using variable pricing; evaluation of various types of pricing programs; information on the impact of pricing at "point" locations; reduced emissions from reduced congestion; increased overall effectiveness of the County's existing variable pricing program; and fast-tracking of infrastructure improvements.

These funds would provide for the establishment of the first test of a value priced Queue Jump. Testing this concept and evaluating its effectiveness would provide very useful information for other areas considering priced Queue Jumps.

July - September 2003: The cooperative agreement for the current phase of the project has not been signed yet.

For More Information Contact: Chris Swenson, P.E., CRSPE, Inc.; Phone (239) 573-7960, e-mail crs@crspe.com; or Kris Cella, Cella & Associates, Inc.; Phone (239) 337-1071, e-mail kcella@cella.cc.

NORTH CAROLINA: HOT Lanes on I-40 in Raleigh/Piedmont

HOT lanes and other potential value pricing options are being explored on I-40 in North Carolina's Piedmont (Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem) and Research Triangle (Raleigh and Durham) areas. I-40 is the principal east-west corridor for the southern half of the U.S. The highway segments in the Research Triangle area are seriously over-capacity. Due to continued employment and residential growth, the segments in the Piedmont Triad are showing signs of similar affects during peak period congestion.

July - September 2003 update: Solicited and received data from NCDOT on average daily traffic, current use of the facility, and GIS maps of roadways and roadway attributes. In addition, the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) provided information on traffic forecasts for 2025 on the main roads in the area.

Received completed graduate study work including a literature review, ancillary data collection from the U.S. census to characterize the study area, and a report that displayed and examined information received from NCDOT and PART.

Team members had two meetings with other colleagues at NCA&T University and PART, as well as NCDOT. As a result of the meeting with NCDOT, the team performed additional calculations (V/C) and expanded the area of study to include another segment that NCDOT provided additional data for and that completed the analysis. A report including recommendations and three appendices regarding the concept lanes was provided to NCA&T.

For Additional Information Contact: Mrinmay Biswas, NCDOT; Phone (919) 715-2465, e-mail biswas@dot.state.nc.us.

OREGON: HOT Lanes on Highway 217 in Portland

The Highway 217 corridor, which connects I-5 to US 26, is the major north-south transportation route in the Washington County portion of the Portland metropolitan area. It runs through two major regional centers, connects the region's high tech centers, and serves one of the highest growth areas in the region. There is a need for additional capacity in the corridor. Value pricing options are being integrated into the mix of alternatives being evaluated and considered for implementation. A prior study, the Traffic Relief Options study, evaluated value pricing in the Portland metro area from a regional perspective and recommended that value pricing be considered whenever major new highway capacity is added. The current study will develop and evaluate several HOT lane and ramp meter bypass alternatives in this corridor, including consideration of FAIR lanes among other value pricing approaches at ramp meters.

July - September 2003 update: Consultants to assist with various work elements were selected in July. DKS will lead the traffic and civil engineering components with the support of URS and David Evans and Associates. ECONorthwest was selected to head up the financial and economic analysis. Zenn Associates will lead a team including Jeanne Lawson Associates. Zenn and Lawson have an excellent reputation for outreach on complex transportation projects in this region, from light rail to major highway capacity improvements, and have experience in and around the Highway 217 corridor. Final contracts were submitted to ODOT for approval in mid-September.

During this period, the study had its public kick off. The first Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting was held on September 4 and focused on background corridor work and issues. The PAC is comprised of 20 elected officials and business and community representatives. This high level group of individuals was selected by Metro and its partner jurisdictions to oversee the study and make recommendations to local, regional and state decision-makers. It will review major technical products and provide on-going guidance to public involvement activities. A second meeting was held in mid September to finalize study goals and objectives.

Study staffs from Metro and the jurisdictions have also completed a number of stakeholder interviews. A total of 40 interviews obtained input into study issues from various business and community perspectives within the region and corridor. Interviews provide information and solicit perspectives about the role managed lanes and value pricing can play in the corridor. Once the consultant contracts are executed, the first tasks include a technology review of value pricing and focus groups. These initial activities are expected to inform the development of initial transportation alternatives later this year.

For More Information Contact: Ms. Bridget Wieghart, Metro Project Manager, Phone (503) 797-1775; e-mail wieghartb@metro.dst.or.us.

TEXAS: Managed Lanes on the LBJ Freeway in Dallas

The LBJ Freeway (I-635) is the major circumferential roadway in the Dallas region. The total length of the corridor is 21 miles. Traffic on certain portions of the LBJ Freeway is heavily congested for many hours of each day. The major attractors in this portion of the Dallas/Fort Worth region include regional malls, thriving business districts, and adjacent residential communities. Currently, the West Section facility consists of eight general-purpose lanes and one HOV lane in each direction. The facility may be upgraded with up to six HOT lanes (three in each direction). The proposed lane configuration would vary - the West Section would have six HOT lanes, the East Section from US-75 would have four HOT lanes, and the rest of the facility would have two HOT lanes. The LBJ Managed Lanes project design uses variable tolling to provide free-flowing traffic conditions and connections to transit centers to support Bus Rapid Transit.

July - September 2003 update: The project team is moving forward with the possible implementation of the project as a Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA). The selection process for a Procurement Engineer is underway. The North Central Texas Council of Governments and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit have pledged additional funding for the project. This can be combined with City of Dallas Bond funds to continue to raise the amount of local funding for the project to $117 Million dollars. Project development is continuing in many areas of the project. This includes Geotechnical Investigation, Traffic and Revenue, Drainage, Early Frontage Roads, Skillman Intersection, Value Pricing Pilot Program, and many other areas. Additional project information can be found at the project web site: http://www.dot.state.tx.us/DAL/mis/ih635/LBJhome.htm.

For More Information Contact: Wes Beckham, North Central Texas Council of Governments; Phone (817) 695-9252, e-mail wbeckham@dfwinfo.com.

TEXAS: Managed Lanes on the Katy Freeway in Houston

Katy Freeway (IH 10), in the western portion of Houston, is a heavily congested urban interstate facility. The existing freeway is 23 miles long and consists of six general-purpose main lanes (three in each direction), with two-lane continuous one-way frontage roads in each direction for most of its length. Additionally, the freeway has a one-lane reversible high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane between I-610 and State Highway 6, and one HOV lane in each direction between State Highway 6 and the Grand Parkway (State Highway 99). West Houston is one of the fastest growing areas in the Houston metropolitan region. Population and employment along the corridor is projected to increase by 40 percent in the near future, with population in certain portions of the corridor expected to grow by up to 130 percent. The freeway is proposed to be expanded to eight general-purpose lanes, four in each direction, with continuous three-lane frontage roads in each direction. In addition, in the center of the facility from I-610 west to State Highway 6, four HOT lanes are proposed, two in each direction. From State Highway 6 to the Grand Parkway, two HOT lanes are proposed, one in each direction. A re-evaluation of the FEIS was completed and made available to the public in January 2003. A press conference was held March 14 to formally sign a tri-party agreement.

July - September 2003 update: IH 10 has three sections under construction: IH 10 and IH 610 (West Loop), IH 10 from SH 6 to Peek Road, and IH 10 from Peek Road to the Fort Bend County Line. The next section to go for bid will be the section around Beltway 8, which is scheduled for July 2004. A final plan for fitting Value Pricing into the work schedule should be ready by mid-November.

For More Information Contact: David Fink, Texas Department of Transportation; Phone (713) 881-3063, e-mail dfink1@houstontranstar.org.

TEXAS: Pricing on I-35 in San Antonio

The San Antonio district of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is evaluating managed lane options for a 15-mile section of the Northeast Corridor (I-35). Public involvement has been a key in developing the I-35 project to date. Pre-project studies have provided some guidance in developing managed lanes, including incorporation of value pricing. Although TxDOT is an existing partner with value pricing projects in Dallas and Houston, this is San Antonio's first VPPP grant.

The purpose of the project is to evaluate potential operating strategies, including value pricing, which could be used as tools to manage travel demand on I-35. Alternative pricing scenarios can be utilized to allow certain user groups into the managed lanes at different stages over the facility's life. The I-35 Managed Lanes study is expected to show congestion-reducing benefits on a 15-mile stretch of the Northeast Corridor.

Implementation of managed lanes is highly likely, as it is already part of the planned freeway expansion project. Plans for additional public input (via public meetings and individual stakeholder meetings) are planned.

July - September update: The cooperative agreement was signed in September. The Draft Proposal previously submitted is now the final work plan. The San Antonio District will proceed with the study through a consulting firm. The study will assist in the development of the final project for I 35, Northeast Corridor.

For More Information Contact: Judy Friesenhan, Planning Engineer, Texas Department of Transportation; Phone (210) 615-5814; e-mail jfriese@dot.state.tx.us.

 

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