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State’s 1st Automated Freeway Express Lane System Set to Open in San Diego

From a Times Staff Writer

Caltrans workers put the finishing touches on the state’s first automated freeway express lane system that, when it opens Thursday, will allow San Diego car-poolers a fast lane through one of the city’s most congested areas.

The two-lane, 8-mile express system down the center of Interstate 15 cost $31.4 million and features electronic signboards, air-pressurized cones and railroad-type gates that will guide traffic onto a freeway stretch running from the northern reaches of San Diego south to downtown, said Jim Linthicum, a Department of Transportation spokesman.

The automated lanes were built to ease rush-hour traffic and sell commuters on the benefits of car-pooling: Only cars with more than two occupants, buses, van pools and motorcycles will be allowed to enter the express lanes, Linthicum said.

During morning rush-hour traffic, the two lanes will open only in the southbound direction, allowing car-poolers to travel to downtown San Diego. At the end of the workday, the express lanes will be reversed--both lanes open only to vehicles traveling north.

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