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L.A. transportation officials approve letting solo drivers pay a toll to use carpool lanes

July 23, 2009 | 12:56 pm

With no discussion, the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board today approved opening carpool lanes on the 10 and 110 freeways to solo motorists willing to pay a toll.

The charges will range from 25 cents per mile when traffic is light to $1.40 per mile during rush hours.

The idea is to use the so-called congestion-based pricing -- tolls that rise and fall in relation to the volume of traffic -- to keep individual motorists, carpools, van pools and buses in the high-occupancy lanes at a minimum speed of 45 mph, even during rush hour.

The demonstration project, which will be evaluated to see whether congestion is indeed reduced, has received a $210.6-million federal grant -- the largest of its type awarded to any city to date, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Caltrans and the MTA will convert existing carpool lanes to high-occupancy toll lanes on 14 miles of the 10 Freeway from Alameda Street to the 605 Freeway and on 11 miles of the 110 Freeway from Adams Boulevard to the Artesia Transit Center at 182nd Street.

A second toll lane will be added in both directions to the 10 Freeway. Plans also call for automated toll plazas, road improvements and additional transit services, including 57 clean-fuel buses that will operate along both highway corridors. The project, which is expected to create 7,000 jobs during construction, is scheduled to be completed by December 2010.

-- Dan Weikel