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290 toll lane opens

You solo drivers on US 290 can now take advantage of the HOV lane to make your daily commute a little less grim, beginning today.

Based on time of day, drivers will pay between $1 and $5 for using the lanes, while eligible carpoolers can still use them for free. In the mornings, vehicles must have three occupants between 6:45 a.m. and 8 a.m., while only two people per vehicle are required at other times.

The carpool lanes run from near FM 1960 to the Northwest Transit Center near Interstate 10 and Loop 610. The transit center, park and ride buses and the carpool lanes are operated by Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Metro also manages toll lanes along Interstate 45 and U.S. 59. Carpool lanes along 59 north of downtown are scheduled to open later this year.

About 7,500 vehicles use the carpool lane daily along 290, Metro officials said. Adding solo drivers who pay is expected to increase the use to about 9,000 vehicles. Raising and lowering prices is meant to control use.

See here for some background, and here for more on Metro’s HOV/HOT lane service. Doesn’t sound like it’s enough volume to make much of a dent in the daily commute time for most folks, but I suppose if you’re one of the ones paying for the privilege of driving in the HOV lane it’ll make a difference for you. It’s going to be a long couple of years while 290 gets revamped and expanded, and I hardly ever have to drive on it.

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