By late 2015, solo drivers could pay to use I-580’s carpool lane

01/17/2014 6:27 PM

01/17/2014 10:22 PM

Northern San Joaquin Valley commuters who take Interstate 580 to Bay Area jobs soon could use the carpool lane even when driving solo – if they are willing to open their wallets.

Transportation officials plan to charge solo drivers who elect to use I-580’s eastbound carpool lane along the roughly 12 miles from the Hopyard-Dougherty roads overcrossing in Pleasanton-Dublin to the Greenville Road undercrossing in Livermore.

There are more than 15,700 residents in Stanislaus County who commute to the Bay Area for work, according to the Stanislaus Council of Governments, which cited the 2010 census as its source. That number includes commuters who drive to work by themselves, as well as those who travel by other means such as carpooling or using an Altamont Corridor Express train.

The California Department of Transportation and the Alameda County Transportation Commission are holding a meeting Wednesday in Dublin to inform the public about the project.

The amount of the toll is being determined, but transportation officials charge solo drivers 30 cents during off-peak hours to $7.50 during peak hours for use of the carpool lane along a 14-mile stretch of Interstate 680 near Fremont. The toll would be charged electronically through the FasTrak system, which reads a tag mounted on car windshields.

Car- and vanpools, motorcycles, buses and eligible clean-air vehicles will continue to use the carpool lane at no cost.

Transportation officials will need to install electronic signs, which will tell solo motorists the cost of using the carpool lane, and other technology. The carpool lane should be available for solo motorists by late 2015, said Heather Barber, communications manager with the Alameda County Transportation Commission.

She said letting solo motorists in the carpool lane will improve traffic flow. She said officials will monitor the impact on the carpool lane. If it is overwhelmed with traffic, officials can raise the toll to reduce demand or even close it to solo drivers as needed.

Barber said transportation officials also are working on converting a westbound lane and an additional eastbound lane along that stretch of I-580 into carpool lanes, which solo drivers could use by paying a toll. She said the toll revenue would be used to maintain the roadway.

The meeting is from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Dublin Unified School District boardroom, 7471 Larkdale Ave.

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