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I-680 Express Lane celebrates second successful year

By Tess Lengyel

I-680 Express Lane use grows

ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. -- An ever increasing number of drivers choose to travel in the southbound I-680 Sunol Express Lane, as the second anniversary of the Express Lane’s opening approaches. The Express Lane admits toll-paying solo drivers in addition to carpoolers (who use the lane at no cost), which optimizes capacity and increases travel time reliability. Since the southbound I-680 Sunol Express Lane opened on September 20, 2010, nearly 800,000 solo drivers have reached their destinations by traveling at speeds that are typically 10-15 miles per hour faster than motorists experience in the general purpose lanes during peak commute hours, without impacting carpooler drive times.

"The number of daily trips on the Express Lane has exceeded our expectations," said Scott Haggerty, Sunol Smart Carpool Lane Joint Powers Authority and Alameda CTC Vice-Chair. "The success of this lane demonstrates that Alameda County drivers are enthusiastic about innovative congestion management solutions. I'm proud that the Alameda CTC continues to develop industry-leading strategies to improve commuter travel times."

The I-680 Express Lanes are operated by the Alameda County Transportation Commission (Alameda CTC) through the Sunol Smart Carpool Lane Joint Powers Authority. This project is the first of its kind in northern California and the Alameda CTC is at the forefront of transportation technology to expand capacity from existing infrastructure to accommodate current and future transportation needs.

To date, use of the Express Lane in 2012 has increased year-on-year by more than 30 percent for the same period in 2011. During the first fiscal year of operation (41 weeks total), there were nearly 300,000 total trips in the Express Lane. By the end of the first fiscal year, the number of trips averaged nearly 1,600 per day during commute hours (5 a.m.-11 a.m.), with daily revenue exceeding $3,600. During the second fiscal year (52 weeks), there was a total of almost 500,000 trips in the Express Lane, with an average number of trips per day at more than 2,050 and daily revenue over $4,400.

Tolls are dynamically priced, operating on a supply and demand principal that ensures increased lane capacity without compromising travel time for carpool lane users. The average peak time toll is under $3.00, and the minimum toll is 30 cents. To date the Express Lane has generated over $1.7M which is used for corridor improvements, lane maintenance and operations. Future revenue will support transit service. Environmental work has begun on a proposed Northbound I-680 Sunol Express Lane Project, which could be funded from the 2012 Transportation Expenditure Plan, known as Measure B1 on the November 6, 2012 ballot.

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