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L.A. County considers congestion pricing for 110 and 10 freeways

Los Angeles County transportation officials are considering prices of 25 cents to $1.40 per mile for solo motorists who use the high-occupancy toll lanes that have been proposed for the 110 and 10 freeways.

Like other tollways in Southern California, officials plan to use congestion-based pricing -- tolls that rise and fall in direct relation to the volume of traffic -- to keep individual motorists, carpools, van pools and buses in the high-occupancy lanes at a minimum speed of 45 mph, even during rush hour.

Under the tentative pricing schedule, 25 cents per mile would be charged when demand is lowest for the lanes, while the maximum toll, $1.40 per mile, would be in effect during the busiest part of the day. Vehicles carrying more than one person would not be charged.

“The project should go a long way to relieving congestion in the region and on two of our more congested freeways,” said Caltrans District Director Douglas Failing, who announced the proposed tolls and other developments in the project at a news conference Monday.

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Before the tolls are set by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board on July 23, the public will be allowed to comment during five community hearings scheduled for this month in Carson, El Monte, Los Angeles, Torrance and West Covina. Written comments can also be submitted to the MTA by July 14.

Information about the hearings is available at www.metro.net/expresslanes.

The demonstration project, which will be evaluated to see if congestion is indeed reduced, has received a $210.6-million federal grant -- the largest of its type awarded to any city to date, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Some of the money will also go to improve bus service along the two freeways.

Caltrans and the MTA will convert existing carpool lanes to high-occupancy toll lanes on 14 miles of the 10 Freeway from Alameda Street to the 605 Freeway and on 11 miles of the 110 Freeway from Adams Boulevard to the Artesia Transit Center at 182nd Street.

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A second high-occupancy toll lane will be added in both directions to the 10 Freeway. Plans also call for automated toll plazas, road improvements and additional transit services, including 57 clean-fuel buses that will operate along both highway corridors. The project, which is expected to create 7,000 jobs during construction, is scheduled to be completed by December 2010.

“I’m glad we are taking another step forward in congestion management,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who as a state senator wrote the legislation to secure the federal grant. “The results we will see will bode well for other long-term efforts to do the same.”

Charging solo motorists to travel in carpool lanes has been implemented in other states, including Texas, Florida and Washington. In Southern California, Caltrans is building 20 miles of such lanes along the 15 Freeway in northern San Diego County.

Although only eight miles of the system are finished, Gustavo Dallarda, the project director, said the lanes on the 15 have reduced congestion despite construction that has occasionally closed lanes on the highway.

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dan.weikel@latimes.com


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