Have you ever been stuck in traffic only to look over and see the HOV lane with only a few cars whipping by? I bet you wondered what a shame it was that those lanes were just sitting there going unused. For those of you in the Seattle area, you won’t have to be frustrated any longer.
Beginning this weekend, Washington State joins the leading edge of transportation innovation by starting a test of HOV-HOT (high occupancy toll) lanes on State Road 167 between Renton and Auburn in King County.
These HOT lanes mean that in addition to the buses and carpools that already have access to the HOV lane, vehicles with only a driver and no additional passengers can choose to pay a toll to avoid being stuck in traffic. To make sure the additional traffic does not slow down vehicles in the HOV-HOT lane, the price of tolls will vary throughout the day depending on time and the demand that correlates with those times. And the tolls are electronically collected – no stopping for tollbooths – so no waiting in lines or searching for that extra quarter.
Innovative HOT lanes are proving successful at moving people and vehicles through congested corridors, but they are not yet widespread. Before SR 167 in Washington State, HOT lanes were operating in just four states, California, Texas, Minnesota and Colorado. Make no mistake, over time we will see more HOT lanes. States like Florida and Virginia already have aggressive plans in place to institute HOT lanes to give drivers a new option to get home to their families and to work on time.
Congratulations to the State of Washington for embracing a solution that I know will keep America moving!
-Acting FHWA Administrator Jim Ray