New Carpool Lane Opens in Marin County

The new HOV lane opens up a head of schedule

State and local transit agencies announce a carpool lane through San Rafael on southbound U.S. Highway 101 will open to traffic in time for Monday's commute.

The California Department of Transportation, the Transportation Authority of Marin and the state Metropolitan Transportation Commission made a joint announcement regarding the "high-occupancy vehicle" lane that will save considerable commute time for carpools, vanpools and express buses on Highway 101 from Novato to Mill Valley, according to Caltrans.

"This stretch of highway is one of the top five congested freeways in the Bay Area," Caltrans District 4 director Bijan Sartipi said in a prepared statement. "The continuous southbound carpool lane from Highway 37 in Novato to Highway 1 in Mill Valley will provide significant congestion relief to commuters."

The new HOV lane, originally planned for completion by late February, is opening ahead of schedule thanks to an unusually dry January, according to Caltrans.

A project to install a northbound HOV lane in the same traffic-prone area is scheduled to open in spring 2009, and also helping to alleviate traffic will be the summertime opening of a bicycle and pedestrian path on the western side of Highway 101 between North San Pedro Road and Mission Avenue in San Rafael, according to Caltrans.

The projects are funded by federal, state and local sources, including a half-cent sales tax approved by Marin County voters in 2004.

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