For Immediate Release
Fremont Legislator Introduces Bill to Authorize Regional
HOT Lane Network
Randy Rentschler – 510.817.5780
Rebecca Long - 510.817.5889
OAKLAND, California, Feb. 26, 2009 . . . State Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico today introduced Assembly Bill 744, which would authorize development of a comprehensive network of high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on Bay Area freeways, allowing solo drivers the option to bypass congestion by paying a toll to use lanes in which carpools and buses travel free of charge. Passage of the bill would designate the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) as the lead agency to finance, construct and operate an 800-mile Regional HOT Network that would include conversion of 500 miles of existing or fully funded carpool lanes to HOT lanes plus construction of 300 miles of new HOT lanes. Partners in the Regional HOT Network initiative will include Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol and the Bay Area’s county congestion management agencies.
“The Regional HOT Network simply makes economic sense,” said Assembly Member Torrico. “It will not only create a lot of much-needed construction jobs over the next few years but will provide a long-term boost for the Bay Area economy by increasing productivity and making it easier for workers to get to and from jobs. And it will generate billions of dollars that can be used to finance other transportation improvements in the years ahead.”
Because existing state law authorizes only a handful of demonstration HOT lane projects in Alameda and Santa Clara counties, buildout of the complete Regional HOT Network requires approval by the state Legislature. The Bay Area’s first HOT lanes — which will be located along Interstate 680 over the Sunol Grade between State Route 84 and State Route 237, along Interstate 580 through the Tri-Valley, and the direct connector between at the Interstate 880/State Route 237 interchange in Milpitas — are scheduled to open in 2010.
“Traffic should always flow freely in the HOT lanes,” explained Torrico, “because variable-rate tolling allows prices to rise as congestion increases in the adjacent lanes. All tolls are collected electronically, so there’s no need to stop at a tollbooth, and buses and carpoolers continue to travel free of charge, just as they do now on the traditional carpool lanes.”
Torrico noted that revenues generated by the region’s first HOT lanes will be used to operate and maintain the Regional HOT Network, finance other improvements in the HOT lane corridors, and expand the Regional HOT Network. “Tolls allow us to complete the network at least 20 years faster and at far lower cost than if we had to wait for traditional financing. And no new taxes are necessary. All the money comes from private citizens who choose to use the HOT lanes.”
BATA, which is directed by the same policy board as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), currently administers toll revenues from the Bay Area's seven state-owned toll bridges. MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
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