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Metro and Caltrans joined elected officials today in officially breaking ground on the ExpressLanes project that will convert existing carpool (HOV) lanes along the Harbor Freeway and the San Bernardino Freeway to High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. The project is designed to ease traffic congestion by reducing travel times and squeeze more capacity out of our existing infrastructure.

“Today marks a major milestone in our efforts to better manage our regional infrastructure,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa. “Utilizing innovative and smart tools such as congestion pricing, we can ease traffic and improve mobility along these two heavily traveled corridors.”

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Metro, in partnership with Caltrans, is embarking on a one-year demonstration program that will covert 11 miles of existing carpool lanes on the I-110 (Harbor Freeway Transitway) between the Artesia Transit Center/182nd Street and Adams Boulevard near downtown Los Angeles and 14 miles on the I-10 (El Monte Busway) between Union Station/Alameda Street and the I-605 to toll lanes.

“High Occupancy Toll Lanes (HOT Lanes) serving the Artesia Transit Center and along the I-110 and I-10 freeways will shorten commute times for thousands of motorist and transit riders, reduce air pollution and bring more than 2,400 construction related jobs to the County during this time of economic difficulty,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, also a Metro Board member and Chair of the board’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Congestion Pricing.

The program seeks to reduce congestion by improving travel choices in the two corridors. Solo drivers, currently not allowed to use the carpool lanes, will be allowed to use the lanes for a toll.  Carpools, transit, vanpools, privately operated buses and motorcycles will travel toll free. The general purpose lanes are not tolled. Net toll revenues will be reinvested in the corridor where they are generated for transportation improvements. Tolls charged will range between 25 cents and $1.40 a mile depending on demand.

The Metro ExpressLanes program is a $368 million project funded by a $210 million federal grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation as part of the Congestion Reduction Demonstration Program. Nearly $120 million will go towards actual construction costs associated with the toll lanes. The remainder of the money is being used to improve various transportation hubs along the two corridors including theArtesia Transit Center along the I-110 freeway and the construction of a new El Monte Station along the I-10 freeway. In addition, 59 new buses will be purchased to provide additional bus service along the two corridors.

“We are thankful to the U.S. Department of Transportation for their financial assistance as we pave new ground in this region through the use of tolling as a viable solution to our traffic headaches,” said Duarte City Councilman and Metro Board member John Fasana. “Today, we begin a new chapter for LA County in providing real travel choices along these corridors.”

During the construction phase of the program, workers will be installing a host of power and utility support units needed for the operation of 27 dynamic message signs (DMS) along the two freeway corridors as well as the installation of 22 toll transponder readers and approximately 145 signs to provide commuters information on the ExpressLanes and the tolls being charged to use the lanes.

In addition, along the I-10 (San Bernardino Freeway) an additional toll lane will be constructed in each direction between the I-605 and the I-710 freeways to add capacity along that heavily traveled corridor. Currently, there is only one carpool lane operating in each direction along the El Monte Busway. None of the general purpose lanes will be taken away to covert the lanes and make the improvements.

Construction crews also will widen Adams Boulevard off-ramp, add a right turn lane on Adams Boulevard, construct a pedestrian bridge, and re-stripe Figueroa Way in Los Angeles in support of the ExpressLanes project.

The ExpressLanes on the I-110 freeway are expected to be completed and opened in late 2012 followed by the completion of the ExpressLanes along the I-10 freeway set to open in early 2013.

The ExpressLanes project is being constructed by Atkinson Contractors, LP under contract to Metro. The contractor was competitively selected to design-build-operate-and-maintain the ExpressLanes project. The Atkinson team includes AECOM for design and ACS Inc. for tolling integration.

By Pascal

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