More Express Lanes Coming to Ease Bay Area Congestion

Nearly 300 miles of toll lanes are coming to the Bay Area by the end of the decade. But for some people that won't be soon enough.

People are willing to pay to get where they have to go faster, which has made so-called "hot lanes" -- express lanes designed to ease congestion -- popular among commuters.

"Many times I'm by myself bumper to bumper," said Irene Kimura-Kern, a Bay Area driver. "You don't want to be late."

Commuters are increasingly using the express lanes in Santa Clara County, especially with solo drivers willing to pay to get into the carpool lane.

"Everyone as a whole is benefiting because we are allowing solo drivers into the express lane it does relieve the amount of drivers on the mix-use lane," said Bernice Alaniz, VTA communications director.

There are about 3,000 first-time FastTrak users in the express lane each month at Highway 237 and Interstate 880, and up to 14,000 people use it every day.

The express lane has been so popular that at time it has been closed to solo drivers, even if they're willing to pay.

When traffic speed hits 45 mph or under, solo drivers are no longer allowed to use the lanes. A flashing sign will indicate when solo driver are not allowed in the express lanes.

Alaniz said to expect more of these "hot" lanes to hit the Bay Area in the next few years.

"There are plans to extending these express lanes further north and west so that we can extend the amount of time an individual can be on the express lanes on 880 to 237," Alaniz said.

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