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October 14, 2009 > I-680 HOT lane progresses

I-680 HOT lane progresses

By Shavon Walker

The City Council discussed the progress of the I-680 Express Lane project at their October 6th meeting. I-680 is well-known for gridlock, especially during rush hour, and the construction of a dynamic toll lane will help relieve the congestion.

The express lane runs south-bound from Route 84 in Pleasanton over the Sunol Grade and down to Highway 237 in Milpitas. It is currently a HOV, or high occupancy vehicle, lane. The project is converting it into a HOT, or High Occupancy Toll, lane.

Carpoolers, motorcycles and hybrid cars will be able to use it as they would a regular carpool lane. There will be entry points along the route (at Mission Boulevard and Calaveras Road, for example) and single drivers will have the option of using the lane for a fee, using their FasTrack transponder to pay.

The fee would vary depending on the congestion level and the distance the driver wishes to travel; the lighter the traffic, the more inexpensive the price. Alternatively, the more congested the route, the higher the toll. This is called "dynamic pricing" which aims to reduce congestion in all lanes on I-680 and maintain traffic flow.

If the project continues according to schedule, the I-680 HOV lane will open in August 2010. Revenue from the project will fund maintenance of the lane. Any surplus will finance improvements to I-680 itself. Legislation is pending to use surplus revenue to improve mass transit.

No maximum fee has been set for use of the lane at this time but it is likely to be no higher than $10. The project is in the middle of the toll phase and in the early- to mid-stages of construction. The toll system being implemented is being reviewed to ensure compliance with the rest of the state's toll standards and practices. Once that is complete, the project will be in the last half of the construction phase.

ACCMA (the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency) is the project's sponsor. ACTIA (the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority) is contributing $15.197M in Measure B funding to help pay for this project. Measure B authorizing a half-cent sales tax was approved in 1986 and reauthorized in 2000. The state and Santa Clara County contributed $8M each. According to ACTIA's funding chart, there was no regional funding for this project or any from the cities affected by it.

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