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Nation's Top Highway Official Opens I-35W HOT Lanes in Minneapolis

New Toll Lanes Will Help Reduce Congestion and Expedite Traffic

WASHINGTON, D.C. 9/28/09 - Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez joined Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and other officials for the grand opening of the I-35W express lanes in the Minneapolis metro area on September 28, 2009. The project is one of the first nationwide to make use of all lanes, including the shoulder, which will provide drivers the option to take a less congested route. "The new express lanes and electronic tolling technology Minnesota is launching today are innovative approaches that will help drivers get to their destination quickly and safely," said Administrator Mendez. "Our goal is to effectively use every inch of pavement so that we have the most efficient transportation system possible."

The I-35W express lanes project took advantage of existing infrastructure by converting High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes into High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes with pricing based on-demand. The project also converted narrow bus-only shoulder lanes into Priced Dynamic Shoulder Lanes (PDSL), which will allow buses and high-occupancy vehicles at no charge, and will allow access during peak times to low-occupancy vehicles willing to pay a toll.

In total, the U.S. Department of Transportation provided $133.3 million for this project with FHWA funds for lane conversions and tolling technology, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds for Bus Rapid Transit facilities and Park and Ride lots, and Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) funds for the operational test period before the lanes open. Additional features along this corridor include electronic message signs informing drivers about congestion conditions and parking availability for public transit users and real-time HOT lane prices.

The MnPASS electronic tolling starts September 30 for I-35W both northbound and southbound from Trunk Highway 13 to I-494 and then again northbound from 42nd street into downtown Minneapolis. The I-35W project is Minnesota's second HOT lanes project - MnPASS I-394 express lanes opened in 2005.