BD 030718 I15 Express Lane 02

Interstate 15 Express Lane on Wednesday March 7, 2018.

OGDEN — A bill awaiting only Gov. Gary Herbert’s signature before it becomes law would allow the transportation department to use cameras and other technology to catch and penalize Express Lane scofflaws.

SB 71 was sent to Herbert’s desk late last week after the Utah Senate unanimously approved a set of House amendments to the measure.

The bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, has received some attention because of a provision that would allow the Utah Transportation Commission to establish tollways on existing state highways, something that has required legislative approval.

RELATED: Express Lane rate hike approved by commission, proposal now goes to legislature

But the bill would also allow the Utah Department of Transportation to use cameras, license plate readers and other technology to monitor toll systems and enforce penalties for violators. 

If the bill passes, the new law would help UDOT better patrol its Interstate 15 Express Lanes system.

“What this does is modernize the tolling statutes we have to effectively electronically toll and to have a means to be able to collect the toll,” Niederhauser said during a Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy and Technology standing committee meeting.

The state’s Express Lane system is made of seven segments from Spanish Fork to Layton and allows carpoolers, buses, motorcycles, emergency vehicles and clean-fuel vehicles to use a dedicated lane on the left side of I-15.

Solo drivers can drive in the lane for a fee if space is available. UDOT collects those fees through an electronic payment system that charges drivers based on an algorithm that adjusts prices based on current traffic conditions — the thicker the traffic, the larger the fee.

RELATED: UDOT considers doubling or tripling Express Lanes toll rates

Success of the system hinges on traffic flowing smoothly in the dedicated lane, despite congestion outside of it. But recently, traffic flow has been deteriorating at the busiest points of the system, mostly during evening commutes. The topic has been discussed at multiple transportation commission meetings over the past year.

Part of the problem is the high rate of solo motorists illegally using the system. Violators can be fined $337 and see the infraction go on their driving record, but right now the Utah Highway Patrol serves as the system’s only enforcement mechanism.

Niederhauser’s bill would allow the state to use the aforementioned technologies to monitor the lane and subsequently assess penalties for violators. Using license plate information, the state would mail bills to the homes of violators and could also request a hold on the registration of a vehicle if the owner has failed to pay the penalty.

During the committee meeting, UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras said the transportation department could legally keep personal information until tolls are collected, but once the debt has been paid, the department would be required to purge the information.

This year, UDOT will begin a project to add Express Lanes to I-15 in both directions between Hill Field Road in Layton and Interstate 84 in Riverdale. The $158 million project could take up to two years to complete.

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook at facebook.com/mitchshaw.standardexaminer.

(2) comments

bretpassey

Long over due but I question how it would work.  So a camera spots someone driving without a passenger in the seat beside them so the camera catches the plate and sends a ticket.  But I don't see how in the world it would know if there was a child, or even an infant in the backseat.....especially if the windows are tinted.   Everyone getting a ticket is going to claim a backseat passenger.  

Sabbatical

Boy...we sure showed the violators of the express/toll lane didn't we!! Not a word about a drivers using a cell phone in the fast lane doing 55!Mack

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