VTA May Convert Carpool Lane Into Toll Lanes Along Highway 85

The Valley Transportation Authority is looking to convert miles of a carpool lane into toll lanes for solo drivers along Highway 85.

The stretch on the freeway is among the South Bay's slowest commutes and VTA officials think some drivers are willing to pay to speed things up.

"What this does is it uses our roadway more efficiently, rather than expanding the roads, buy up real estate," VTA spokesperson Brandi Childress said. "We use a lane that's already there and make it more efficient for more people to use."

Authorities initially were considering a single toll lane, but are now looking into creating a double express lane.

Some commuters are in favor of the idea.

"I like it because I drive by myself," April Durrett said. "If you're in a real hurry sometimes traffic stops and it gets crazy."

But carpool drivers said making it an express lane will only clog up the carpool lane.

"I feel like it might be a bad idea," Ramses Martinez said. "Like today, I usually ride with my friends."

Meanwhile, some commuters said the lane is already too congested.

"When you come up 85 all lanes are blocked," Robert Issakhani said. "So even the carpool lane is jammed up...even the slow lane is faster sometimes than the carpool lane."

The VTA board on Thursday postponed a decision and want more time to collect data on the possibility of having two pay-per-use express lanes.

Cost to use the toll will vary, ranging from 50 cents to $6, depending on the time spent in the express lane, the time of day and the traffic flow in other lanes, officials said.

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