FasTrak® Your Way Through the Sunol Grade
Carpools, buses and eligible hybrids will continue to travel free of charge on the I-680 Express Lane. Carpoolers whose vehicles are equipped with a FasTrak toll tag are advised to place their tag in the Mylar® bag issued at the time the FasTrak account was opened. Replacement Mylar® bags are available free of charge from the FasTrak Customer Service Center. Call 877-BAY-TOLL (229-8655) or call 511 and say "FasTrak."
Crews have just restriped the pavement along this stretch of I-680 to separate the Express Lane (left) from mixed-flow traffic. Photo: Emily Landin-Lowe, Caltrans
September 13, 2010... If you have put off getting FasTrak®, now there's another reason to sign up for electronic toll collection: the new Express Lane along the Sunol Grade in Alameda County. Beginning Monday, September 20, 2010, solo drivers with FasTrak will be able to breeze past traffic along this 14-mile stretch of southbound Interstate 680.
Running from Highway 84 in Sunol to Highway 237 in Milpitas, the lane currently is reserved for carpools. Under the operating plan for the new Express Lane along this stretch, solo drivers can choose to pay a toll in order to use the carpool lane to bypass traffic. While new to the Bay Area, express lanes, also referred to as HOT lanes, or high-occupancy/toll lanes, have operated for years in Southern California and elsewhere across the country.
On I-680, the toll will vary depending on the level of congestion — up to $4 or $6 when the roadway is crowded, and as low as 30 cents when traffic is light. This dynamic pricing plan will help to ensure a reliable trip for all users of the lane. Carpools (defined as two or more people), motorcycles, transit vehicles and eligible hybrids will continue to use the I-680 Express Lane for free. Carpoolers whose vehicles are equipped with FasTrak toll tags can simply remove the tag from their windshield or dashboard and place it in the Mylar® bag issued at the time the FasTrak account was opened, and then re-affix the toll tag after traveling through the Sunol Grade corridor. To request a replacement Mylar® bag, just call the FasTrak Customer Service Center toll-free at 877-BAY-TOLL (229-8655) or call 511 and say "FasTrak."
While FasTrak is well-established as the speedy and convenient way to pay tolls on the Bay Area's eight toll bridges, this is the Bay Area's first non-bridge application of the system, which is operated by MTC's Bay Area Toll Authority. The existing carpool lane is being outfitted with electronic toll collection equipment and new double solid striping to keep violators from cutting in and out (eligible drivers will be able to enter the lane at three specific access points, and exit at three other points). The Express Lane will operate from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, and will be open to everyone free of charge nights and weekends.
“Folks maybe confused at first, and we understand that,” said MTC Chair Scott Haggerty at a recent press event. “But they will get familiar with the configuration of the new lane, and we will work with them.” Haggerty is also an Alameda County supervisor, vice chair of the Alameda County Transportation Commission and chair of the Sunol Smart Carpool Lane Joint Powers Authority.
Drivers who travel this stretch regularly are advised to sign up for FasTrak in advance of the opening. FasTrak transponders are available at select Costco, Walgreens and Safeway locations, as well as at www.bayareafastrak.org. Anyone signing up for FasTrak now through October 20, 2010, will get $10 in free toll credits on the I-680 Express Lane. More express lanes are coming to the Bay Area starting in 2011, and a full network of express lanes is planned over the next 20 years. For more information, go to www.680expresslane.org.
Metropolitan Transportation Commission • 101 Eighth Street, Oakland, California 94607
This page was last modified Friday October 08, 2010
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