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Local News in Brief : West County : Car-Pool Lane Opens on San Diego Freeway

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The long-awaited opening of a car-pool lane on the northbound San Diego Freeway in Westminster and Seal Beach went without a hitch Wednesday morning--almost.

The lane, which runs from Springdale Street to the San Gabriel River Freeway, was temporarily blocked about 8 a.m. as freeway crews cleaned up after an accident near Springdale, California Highway Patrol Officer Keith Thornhill said.

“But at no time this morning did we ever get a car-pool-lane-type crash, which we get about every morning” on the Costa Mesa Freeway, Thornhill said.

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Caltrans crews counted 1,972 cars in the car-pool lane between 6:45 and 10 a.m., CHP Officer Leslie Hill said. Forty-three of those in the lane were solo drivers, and more than half of those were on motorcycles, which is legal, Hill said.

Two extra CHP officers were on duty Wednesday morning to cite those solo drivers and anyone crossing over double yellow lines separating the car-pool lane from the rest of the traffic. During the morning commute, 10 drivers were cited in the car-pool lane.

Most of the citations went to solo drivers for using the lane illegally. But Hill said that “one or two of those were for speeding. . . . One was for 90 miles per hour.

“Remember, we’re also citing people for speeding in those lanes. Driving in (car-pool lanes) doesn’t mean they’re exempt from speeding,” Hill said.

Fines for a car-pool lane violation range from $100 to $246, Hill said. The maximum penalty for repeat offenders is $500.

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