Monday, February 18, 2008

Hot lanes, part II

I wrote in the newspaper Sunday about the first analysis of where HOT lanes could be used in Charlotte, with the winners being I-77 in north Mecklenburg and Independence Boulevard.

HOT lanes – high-occupancy toll lanes – allow single drivers to pay for the right to use carpool lanes. Cities – most of whom are much bigger than Charlotte – are turning to HOT lanes to battle congestion after realizing they aren’t getting their money’s worth from traditional carpool lanes.

One aspect of HOT lanes that I didn’t address is that experts say it’s politically difficult to create a HOT lane at the expense of a general purpose lane. So if an expressway has recently been rebuilt – think I-85 in northeast Charlotte – that probably strikes it from the list.

Early next decade, I-85 will be widened from Concord Mills to N.C. 73. With that project set to begin in two or three years, it’s unlikely to be changed to add an extra lane. And if were, would it be worth having a HOT lane through Cabarrus County only?

Another part of the story neglected in the newspaper is whether the HOT lane would have its own exit, or whether HOT lane motorists would have to merge back into regular traffic.
If the city and state build a HOT lane on I-77 in north Mecklenburg, they have kicked around the idea of adding a HOT lane exit and entrance for the Brookshire Freeway, and possibly another exit uptown. That raises the degree of difficulty on the project considerably. Instead of re-stripping the road and adding barriers, the state and city would be remaking some of the busiest interchanges in the state.


j said...
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j said...

HOT lanes are a sorry excuse for a solution to traffic, allowing people to aviod congestion with a fee. If you are going to charge a toll to avoid congestion build a tollroad instead of trying to give the wealthy a way out of traffic. Not to mention including HOT lanes in a Busway right of way on Independence will only intefere with its operations- making a Busway impractical. They are still reffered to Lexus lanes and more than likely always will be. However it would not be a bad idea to rebiuld some of those interchanges near uptown seeing as they were built in the 60's and 70's.

Anonymous said...

What a great idea. Take MY tax money to build lanes that I cannot use (HOV - we're not all next door neighbor office park commuters), ban me from using them 24 hours a day (pure money grab), then plan on charging me MORE to use them in the future.