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L.A. County considers toll charges on two freeways

Los Angeles County transportation officials are considering charging solo motorists 25 cents to $1.40 a mile to use the high occupancy toll lanes proposed for the Harbor and San Bernardino freeways.

Like other tollways in Southern California, officials plan to use congestion-based pricing, which means that tolls will rise and fall in direct relation with the flow of traffic — a formula designed to keep individual motorists, carpools, van pools and buses in the high occupancy lanes at a minimum of 45 mph, even during rush hour.

Under the proposed pricing schedule, 25 cents a mile would be charged when demand is lowest for the lanes, while the maximum, $1.40 a mile, would be the toll during the busiest part of the day.

“The project should go a long way to relieving congestion in the region on two of our more congested freeways,” said Caltrans District Director Douglas Failing, who announced the proposed tolls and other developments in the project at a news conference today.

Before the toll schedule is finalized in late July, the public will be allowed to comment on the prices at  five community hearings this month in Los Angeles, Torrance, Carson, El Monte and West Covina. The public also can submit written comments to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority by July 14. The MTA board is scheduled to set the tolls July 23.

The yearlong demonstration project has received $210.6 million in federal funds to help reduce traffic and improve bus service along the two freeways -- the largest congestion-easing grant awarded to any city to date, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Caltrans and the MTA will use the money to convert existing carpool lanes to high-occupancy toll lanes on 14 miles of the San Bernardino Freeway from Alameda Street to the 605 Freeway interchange and on 11 miles of the Harbor Freeway from Adams Boulevard to the Artesia Transit Center at 182nd Street.

A second high-occupancy toll lane will be added in both directions to the San Bernardino Freeway. The project also calls for automated toll plazas, road improvements and additional transit services, including 57 clean-fuel buses for both freeway corridors. The entire project is expected to be completed by December 2010.

--Dan Weikel in Eagle Rock

Comments () | Archives (48)

Didn't we already pay for these freeways?

This makes a mockery of the carpool lanes. Want to improve congestion? Start charging a toll for single drivers in the OTHER lanes, and keep the carpool lane as it is. You'll start seeing fewer cars really fast if you increase, rather than decreasing, the incentives for ridesharing.

can someone explain to me how charging a toll to use the high occupancy lane will reduce the congestion?
It is the same number of cars on the highway, right?
The cars eligible to use the HOV lane are still eligible to use it for free, right?
The high occupancy lanes are already crawling at rush hour along with everyone else on the 110? How does charging some solo drivers so they can move over to the HOV lanes REDUCE CONGESTION?
I don't understand.

This proposal would finally recognize that commuters need to bear the cost of the congestion and air pollution that they contribute toward when they drive alone, and incentive people to change the practice. I fully support it.

This is a band aid fix to the traffic problems and a waste of money. What we need is more mass transit systems that use the rail ways instead of more buses on crowded freeways.
We need mono rail systems like other countries already have in place. We are falling behind thanks to waste and mismanagement by our elected officials and citizens that do not care to hold them accountable.

in yer dreams LA? what happens here is the money all goes to building and maimtaing the system by the system and for the system from day one.
toll booths to snarl traffic foir nickels and dimes of collections, transponders for winshields and staff to look at hundreds of photos and license plate and models and makes looking for drivers to ticket...dont believe me?
try reviewing the east coast experience.
gvt gets the taxes at the pumps already, dmv gets even more, sales tax too...tax-tax-tax...stupid arnold? you have'nt done a thing except rip off gray davis.

i am usually against all types of taxation, big government is not my favorites. However, if i can pay and not stuck on the freeway, i will pay.

Let me get this straight. The enormouus amount of taxes already paid by California taxpayers isn't enough. Federal tax not enough. Now the local and state crooks want us to pay to use freeways that are already paid for? Ridiculous.

Recently the voters have spoken, no new taxes! I hope the LA County BOS are listening, no new taxes..voters want cuts.

This is total BULL. People already pay high taxed. This is just another tax that will impact the poor, who can't even afford gas, food or rent! Cut the salaries of our useless politicans, cut wastfull spending on all ILLEGAL ALIENS, and make special interests and big corporations pay their fair share of taxes, like the poor do! America, California should be ashamed. Aronald and especially Obama are useless liars! Obama should be impeached, he is a liar who caters to the special interests and gives passes to dead beat nominees! This is change alright, for the worse. The poor don't even have "POCKET CHANGE".

“The project should go a long way to relieving congestion in the region on two of our more congested freeways,”

How can congestion be relieved if you are putting more cars in fewer lanes? Congestion in the carpool lanes can be relieved, but not congestion on the freeways. More cars in fewer lanes equals more exhaust and more pollution.

On top of this, we already paid for these carpool lanes through taxes. Now we are going to be charged again for using what we already paid for? Imagine buying a car for cash, then being told you are going to be billed for using what you already paid for? Oh wait, my bad. Sacramento was already looking into billing us for each mile we drive as a new tax. I guess it's only a matter of time before we are charged a "clean air" tax based on how many breaths we take. I gotta get out of this place.

Y'all fail to realize that there will be additional bus service complementing the toll lanes. This isn't like OC where this is toll lanes and no bus service. Metro will be introducing the 901 express line to use both HOV lanes. So, if you don't want to pay the toll, but want to move fast, use the new bus. This is truly a huge benefit in getting the $210 million in federal funding.

More big government big ineptitude. They build freeways with our money, do nothing to stabilize the human population or number of cars on the freeways, then they want more of our money to purchase "transit privelages", all the while not preparing for the time in the not too distant future when the world's petroleum supply will be on the downside of the production curve. A deepening mess. See www.theoilrum.com

Aoooga, aoooga, Warning, Warning. Money grab ahead. Grab your wallet now........

Finally! We just finished covering this subject in my transportation class. More toll roads is what this city needs. The California public community fails to see that we need these tolls. We need to realize that every other state and other European country uses tolls to pay to fix the current highways and build new ones. This is a great way to make profit and fix the much needed congestion problem. Make way for more HOV lanes! I'm willing to pay!

This is ridiculous: Caltrans and the MTA will use the money to convert existing carpool lanes to high-occupancy toll lanes on 14 miles of the San Bernardino Freeway

I have a 91 Express Lanes Toll tag. I also use it a lot on the 241, 73, and 261. Have you ever been on those roads in the OC? Mostly empty. In fact, the San Joaquin Hills tolling agency looked like they were going to go under for some time. Now you are going to rip off bought and paid for lanes and toll them? At least the lanes/roads in OC were newly built. What a scam. I am sure this project will get linked up with the statewide Fastrax program.

LAofA, you use the bus. I prefer the personal safety of my car. The bus isn't going to make that much of a difference and you know this.

Peter, it would reduce congestion if lanes were added. Instead they want to appropriate existing lanes. Shameful. And by the looks of W. Covina, I doubt the bulk of the residents can really afford this "change."

Everyone here who likes to pick on the single drivers may want to realize that some of us have no choice but to drive alone. I work in a mobile business. I have to drive to my customers. I can't ride share or carpool like those who work in an office. Why should I have to pay any tolls that multiple passneger vehicles don't have to? I kow I'm not alone in this. There are thousands of people who, because of their job or even lack of one, have no other choice but to drive alone. I say enough of looking for new ways to make people pay for things they've already paid for. It's time to make some real cuts. For example, the "Garbage Board"? Why on earth should we be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for these ridiculous politicians who don't acutally do anything at all? This is the kind of waste that needs to be excised from the state budget once and for all. And there is no reason that government employees should have higher salaries than their counterparts in the private sector. Oh, but of course, government takes care of itself instead of doing it's job to manage our state. How many raises have our worthless politicians voted for themselves over the past decade? I sure wish I could decide for myself every year how much I will make.

Nothing is free in a free country. I also hope they consider removing the speed limits on these highways similar to European autobahns. Most of these single riders should be on public transit anyway.

This is just another scam. If MTA and Caltrans want us to pay to use the HOV lane then they should pay me back all the gas tax that I have put into those HOV lanes. Plus to address the "NEW" 901 MTA express bus. That is more BULL from MTA! MTA forgot to mention that they are cutting bus lines 484 and 490 from service to downtown LA.

This is the MTA way of screwing the San Gabriel Valley. Remove money to expand and complete 10 carpool, instead give it to the 405; No light rail expansion into Monrovia; Degrade bus service between LA and El Monte. Now pay to drive on a freeway we paid taxes for.

When is the rest of the San Gabriel Valley going to wake up and stop MTA abuse?

Andrea nailed it. This does nothing but open up the already-congested carpool lanes to single drivers who are wealthy enough to pay the price.

Reducing congestion means reducing the number of cars on the freeway. To do this, you have to increase the number of people IN those cars. I can't think of an easier way to do this than to add MORE carpool lanes, and have LESS lanes available to cars containing a single person, during the times of greatest congestion. This will increase drivers' incentive to double- (or triple-) up.

Unbelievable, This is almost comical. If I charged someone for something they already paid for I'd be explaining myself in front of a judge somewhere. But our politicians can get away with it. Now why do you think that is?

Ask yourself how tolls are going to reduce congestion, when the same traffic at the busiest hours are still going to be rolling? It sounds like just an alternative way of getting more money out of people's pockets. Or to look at it another way, L.A.County wants to tax congestion, and a tax for going to work. Has anyone told L.A County that the economic crisis has affected people as well as government?

MTA gets their big budget sales tax passed, they want more money and then create new 'fees'. This is just another joke. Where is the Gold Line to Claremont? Where is the 605/10 interchange and the carpool lane from BP to 57/10? By the way the bus system in L.A. just sucks. It took me two hours to get from Glendale to South Pas last Friday. Buses don't show, and then when you see one there are two running 10 feet from one another. Slow as Molasses, nothing transportation works in L.A. thanks to MTA.

As usual, the the power brokers on the west side and in the valley are able to avoid the burden placed on mid-city and east side residents. The most succesful car pool lane on the San Bernardino Fwy, as well as the 110 Fwy will be transformed into a pay to play situation. Meanwhile, it will be business as usual on the 405 and 101 Fwys.

We all must sacrifice...for the children... and, of course, the first responders.

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