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March 13, 2012 > SR 237 Express Lanes to open March 15

SR 237 Express Lanes to open March 15

Congestion relief for all, more reliable commute for solo drivers

Submitted By Brandi Childress

Carpool lanes at the State Route (SR) 237 and I-880 interchange in Milpitas will be converted to express lanes at 5 a.m. on Thursday, March 15, 2012 to provide a more effective use of the existing facility and a new mobility option for solo drivers. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) will debut the four-mile corridor as the first of three projects under the Silicon Valley Express Lanes Program to better meet the demands being made on already heavily congested roadways in Santa Clara County. Solo drivers, who did not previously qualify to use the carpool lane, will now have that option for a fee. Vehicles carrying at least two people and other eligible users will continue to use the express lanes free of charge.

"As a former Member of the House Transportation Committee, I recognize the link between an efficient transportation system and a strong local economy," said Silicon Valley Congressman Mike Honda. "Having the option to access the 237 Express Lanes will allow thousands of workers to travel to and from work faster and more easily every day, saving time and headaches spent in traffic."

Tolls for the new express lanes will vary based on the congestion level and will adjust to maintain optimal speeds in the express lanes, ranging from 30 cents to $6, with the average toll around $3. Tolls will be collected electronically using FasTrak technology already in use on Bay Area bridges and express lanes throughout California. Revenue from these tolls remains in Santa Clara County and will be used for operation, maintenance, enforcement costs and transit improvements within the corridors.

"We cannot expand our highways fast enough to meet the increasing demand. We have to be innovative," said Ken Yeager, Santa Clara County Supervisor and Chair of the VTA Board. "The solution must come from better utilization of our existing roadway infrastructure."

The 237 Express Lanes extend from south of Dixon Landing Road in Milpitas to Lawrence Expressway in San Jose. Starting Thursday, March 15, 2012 commuters driving southbound I-880 can enter the express lane in Milpitas, south of Dixon Landing Road, and continue westbound on SR 237 toward Mountain View, ending after the North First Street exit. Toll paying drivers will have until Lawrence Expressway to exit the carpool lane. In the opposite direction, eastbound SR 237 from Mountain View toward San Jose, commuters can enter the express lane between North First Street and Zanker Road, and continue to northbound I-880. The express lane will end just south of Dixon Landing Road in Milpitas where toll paying drivers will have until then to exit the carpool lane. Since the express lanes have limited entry and exit points, motorists are advised to plan ahead.

Signage has been placed to advise commuters of approaching express lanes and current toll rates. Express lanes will operate during the same hours as carpool lanes, with the exception of an extended hour in the morning on westbound SR 237 only, from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. to alleviate peak congestion. Commute hours will remain the same on the eastbound morning commute (from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.) and the afternoon commutes in both directions (from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.).

The cost of the 237 Express Lanes Project is $11.1M. More than 65 percent of the project is funded by federal grant programs: $3.5M through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and $4M through the Federal Value Pricing Pilot Program (VPPP). The balance of $4.3M comes from local funds.

A FasTrak transponder can be obtained through the www.BayAreaFasTrak.org website or from one of several retail locations throughout the Bay Area, including select Costco, Walgreens and Safeway stores.

For more information about the project, please visit www.vta.org/expresslanes, email community.outreach@vta.org, or call VTA Community Outreach at (408) 321-7575.

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