The next step on the road to toll lanes on Interstate 5 is to invite proposals from private companies, according to county transportation officials.
“The next step for the project is for us to be able to procure a private entity, bring them on board and to do this very creative type of project,” said Lan Saadatnejadi, an executive officer for Metro, describing the toll lanes as a unique public-private partnership.
“The prior process was the environmental update process, that was the process of gathering comments from the public,” Saadatnejadi said. “The conclusion was that the locally preferred alternative would be the HOT lanes and that process has concluded.”
If the project receives approval from the state’s Transportation Commission, a public hearing would then dictate what people would pay to use the toll lanes, she said.
A suggested range listed on the project’s environmental documents cite a fee ranging from $0.40 per mile to $1.25 per mile, with the rates potentially fluctuating based on traffic conditions.
However, the toll hearing would be the final determinant on rates.
Early in the process, there was demand noted for high-occupancy vehicle lanes, Saadatnejadi said.
However, Metro officials didn’t have the funding necessary to pay for the expansion as quickly as commuters would have liked.
The plan calls for a toll road/ high-occupancy vehicle lanes from the Interstate 5-Highway 14 interchange all the way to Parker Road, which is about a 14-mile stretch of freeway, in both directions.
These lanes would have taken about 30 years to build based on current funding levels, Saadatnejadi said.
The project, which is part of a multiproject package being presented to the California Transportation Agency for approval, is expected to have construction firms attached by October.
After approvals are received, the toll hearing would then take place.
“If the state doesn’t approve (the project), then it would be a waste of everybody’s time to go through with the toll-rate hearing,” Saadatnejadi said.
The proposed change is consistent with the following objectives of the I-5 HOV and truck Lanes project: reduce delays to vehicles caused by slower-moving trucks through the hilly southern portion of this segment of I-5; improve operational and safety design features to facilitate the movement of people, freight, and goods on the project segment; and reduce existing forecast traffic congestion on the project segment of I-5 to accommodate planned growth within the study area.