UDOT prepares for express lane e-payments

Aug 21 2010 - 11:18pm

LAYTON -- On Monday, a new electronic payment system for use of Interstate 15 express lanes will go into effect.

Solo drivers who want to use the express lanes will have to purchase an electronic transponder that tracks their use of the lanes.

Electronic overhead signs will show drivers the cost of entering the lane, and an online account will be debited for each zone a motorist drives through.

The cost for solo drivers to use the express lanes will range from 25 cents to $1 per zone, depending on the level of traffic. Drivers may pull down a slider on the transponder so they are not charged when carpooling.

When the slider is down, red will show on both sides to demonstrate to the driver and to law enforcement that the transponder is in carpool mode.

Nile Easton, Utah Department of Transportation director of communications, said drivers who have not purchased new transponders and were on the old system will be ticketed for improper use of the lanes.

The state has sold more than 6,000 transponders since they went on sale in late July.

"There has been a lot more interest than we thought," Easton said. "We've sold a lot already and we're still selling 50 or 60 more every day."

Under the state's old program, single-occupant motorists were required to purchase a decal that was placed on a vehicle's license plate in order to use the express lanes.

In September 2009, UDOT had issued only 1,600 decals, which cost $50 each.

The new electronic system will run from Lehi's Main Street to 2300 North in Salt Lake City and from Farmington's State Street to the south Layton interchange.

Officials say the new pricing system will allow UDOT to better manage traffic in the express zones to ensure that carpoolers maintain speeds of at least 55 mph.

Funds collected from the express lanes transponders will go toward operating and maintaining the lanes.

Carpoolers, buses, motorcycles and low-emission or fuel-efficient vehicles are the first priorities in the express lanes and may continue to use them without charge.

Drivers can sign up for the new system at expresslanes.utah.gov.

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