Plan will admit solo drivers to HOV lanes... for a price

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on June 9, 2014 at 6:01 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 9 at 6:13 PM

DALLAS — In North Texas, every square foot of pavement is precious real estate to help keep us moving. That’s why underused HOV lanes on LBJ Freeway are getting a closer look from the Texas Department of Transportation.

By early 2016, on drivers in "single occupancy vehicles" (SOVs) on LBJ between Interstate 30 and North Central Expressway will be able to pay a still-undetermined amount to drive in the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) carpool lane. The concept is called "managed lanes."

“Not something I would do every day, but if I had an emergency, yes,” said motorist Yvette Brenham, who was filling up with gas at Fuel City in Dallas.

TxDOT officials briefed a Dallas City Council committee Monday since the managed lanes will run through the city. Council members learned it’s a $9 million project funded by the state that will string managed lanes end-to-end on LBJ.

“We’re looking at it providing a seamless mode of travel for motorists,” said TxDOT spokesman Tony Hartzell.

TxDOT said the changes will double the amount of cars that currently use HOV lanes without slowing down the speed of travel.

The agency said this is a popular idea, but paying even more to drive in toll-weary North Texas doesn’t go over well with everyone.

“Just leave a little earlier and get to where you need to go,” advised motorist Pam Offord.

Is TxDOT pricing some motorists out of options that used to be free?

“There’s always that other option of using those regular lanes, but HOVs in this case are still going to be free," Hartzell said. "It’s not pricing people out; it’s just allowing so more users to use these lanes."

Around the same time, in early 2016, TxDOT will also introduce HOV lanes on North Central Expressway to drivers of single occupancy vehicles who are willing to pay for the privilege.

TxDOT says it will spend a year installing gantries and some other modifications to monitor traffic and work with existing Toll Tags. The HOV lanes will remain free to carpoolers.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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