CA Senate Approves HOT Lane Legislation

The CA Senate voted to approve the HOT lane/transit investment plan of the LA MTA for two freeways, making LA eligible for $210 million in federal congestion pricing funds if the governor signs the bill.
September 4, 2008, 12pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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State Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) has written legislation to authorize conversion of high occupancy vehicle (carpool) lanes on two southern CA freeways to allow single-occupant-vehicles to use carpool lanes – for a fee that would vary with the rate of congestion. That legislation, SB 1422, was approved Saturday, August 30, one day before the legislative deadline to send bills to the governor for signature.

Legislative enabling authorization is necessary in order for project manager Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to receive "a $210.6 million federal grant that would pay for toll plazas, road and rail improvements, and a fleet of clean-fuel buses that would run as a rapid line along the route."

After the NY State Assembly rejected a $350 congestion pricing plan for NYC in April, 2007 those funds become eligible for other regions. Chicago received $153 million for their congestion pricing parking plan (see related link).

The conversions of the high occupancy vehicle lanes to so-called high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes would apply to "one carpool lane in each direction on a 16.5-mile-stretch of the 110 Freeway and the two carpool lanes in each direction on a 14-mile stretch of the 10 Freeway."

"SB 1422 would require the MTA to provide a system for discounting tolls for low-income commuters.

Toll revenue would pay for mass transit improvements to further reduce gridlock, said Richard Katz, an MTA board member and former assemblyman."

However, the CA legislature reacted as its NY counterpart - wary of the tolling concept, and was even controversial within the party sponsoring the bill.

"This reflects a view that if you have money, you get to go in the fast lane and if you don't you are stuck in congestion," Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach) said during a Senate debate." She abstained from voting, amounting to a 'no' vote.

"Another Los Angeles Democrat, Sen. Gloria Romero, voted no, saying the toll lanes would create "an undue burden on low-income people."

Unlike an earlier rendition of the plan (before the project was eligible to receive the Urban Partner Agreement grant), 2+ person carpoolers would not be charged. [See related link].

Thanks to Bay Area Transportation News

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Published on Wednesday, August 27, 2008 in LA Times
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