Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: wood dale
Location: wood dale
Sportbike: '01 sv650s, CRF 70
Years Riding: 3
How you found us: from moparboyy
Blagojevich wants to establish 'free-flow' toll lane
TOLLWAYS | Gov wants to set aside ‘free-flow’ lane for those who share rides, drive hybrids — or pay more
Recommend (5) Comments
October 15, 2008
BY MARY WISNIEWSKIAND SHAMUS TOOMEY Staff Reporters
Are tollway drivers ready to carpool?
Gov. Blagojevich thinks so.
» Click to enlarge image
Last week Michigan Legislature passed authorization to add high occupancy vehicle - HOV- driving lanes. Gov. Blagojevich is proposing the same for Illinois tollways.
Meet an HOV cheater's BFF
Gas prices could slide below $3
More in Transportation
Tell us: Are you ready to carpool?
Facts about the Illinois Tollway
• It covers 286 miles.
• 3.3 million I-Pass transponders are in use by tollway drivers.
• 80 percent of tolls are paid electronically daily.
• The Tri-State sees nearly half of the tollway system’s 1.4 million cars a day.
Source: The Illinois Tollway
He will announce a plan today to allow people who carpool or drive hybrids to use specially designated express lanes on Illinois tollways.
Under the plan, the Toll Authority will introduce "Green Lanes" into the busiest segments of the tollways. The idea is to reduce congestion and create "free-flow" lanes that would reduce braking and acceleration, thereby cutting emissions.
If approved by the tollway board, the lanes -- to be designated from existing lanes -- could be in place by 2010.
Carpool lanes are in use in more than two dozen urban areas around the country, including New York, Detroit, Miami and Los Angeles, so Illinois is coming late to the game.
"This would be an important tool for congestion relief," said Joseph Schwieterman, DePaul University transportation expert. "It's inexplicable why our region hasn't tried these techniques before."
The lanes are not always popular, though, especially when carved out of existing lanes. In California in the 1970s, angry drivers dumped broken glass and nails onto the Santa Monica Freeway to protest new high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes.
Since then, California politicians have only approved HOV lanes when they add to a highway's capacity, said Martin Wachs, an HOV lane expert and director of the Transportation Space and Technology program at the Rand Corp. think tank.
The HOV lanes have increased carpooling and reduced congestion in Southern California, but one San Francisco-based study found HOV lanes actually made congestion worse in the Bay area.
The Illinois proposal appears to capitalize on a new twist in carpool lanes, high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes that allow solo drivers to use the lanes -- if they pay more.
In the proposed Green Lanes, solo drivers would be charged a yet-to-be-disclosed premium rate above the existing cost of a toll for the right to use the lane.
But cars with at least two people inside -- as well as buses, hybrids and electric or fuel cell vehicles -- would pay the current I-Pass rate.
Tolls would be deducted electronically from vehicles, although details on how the tollway would differentiate between types of cars or count how many people are inside were not disclosed.
Carpoolers would drive in the left lanes, which would be marked with stripes or diamonds but not walled off from the regular lanes.
Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero noted there is technology in other states that uses heat sensors to count car occupants.
Also to be announced today are plans for new interchanges, including an interchange between I-294 and I-57 in the south suburbs.
The Green Lanes and interchanges are budgeted at $1.8 billion, to be financed by bonds backed by a toll increase for commercial vehicles in 2015 and new toll rates for single-occupant vehicles in the Green Lanes. Those new rates weren't revealed.
In California, solo drivers pay up to $10 to drive 11 miles in a HOT lane of one L.A.-area freeway. The premium price fluctuates in an attempt to keep the express lanes at optimum traffic levels.
The lanes have been derided by some as "Lexus Lanes," but they help pay for themselves with the higher rates and give drivers an option, albeit a costlier one.
"They have been extremely successful, but it's only been done in relatively few places," said Wachs.
The idea for carpool lanes in the Chicago area has been studied in the past -- and rejected. In 1994, a plan to add HOV lanes to the Stevenson Expy. was killed. Mayor Daley at the time said the state's plan would have diverted money away from city streets.
Related Blog Posts