Solo drivers who frequently travel on U.S. Highway 101 in Palo Alto and Mountain View could soon find relief from traffic congestion under a plan to transition carpool lanes into express lanes through the two cities that was recently awarded $47.5 million from the state, according to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.
The project will convert existing carpool lanes to double as express lanes, which solo drivers can pay to use, from the Highway 101/state Highway 85 interchange in Mountain View to near the San Mateo County line in Palo Alto.
The VTA was notified on Aug. 16 that state funding was approved for the Mountain View and Palo Alto express lane project and two other improvement projects in Santa Clara County.
Funding for the project came from state Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act, which increased the gas tax to repair roads and improve public transit, as well as create state programs aimed to improve local roads, provide congestion relief and improve trade corridors, according to the VTA.
The express lane program was spurred by high growth estimates in Santa Clara County, where the population is expected to increase by 38 percent and jobs could rise to 62 percent -- equivalent to 555,000 new residents and 445,000 new jobs -- between 2010 and 2040, according to the VTA. Express lanes will presumably alleviate some traffic woes in the coming years.
The express lane project will likely begin construction in early 2019 and be completed in summer 2021, according to the VTA. Crews will install express lane signs, electronic toll readers, a video enforcement system, lighting and communication and electrical services for the tolling system. The project will also add California Highway Patrol enforcement areas, restripe existing lanes and reconstruct concrete barriers and metal guard railings.
Upon completion, VTA will operate, manage and maintain the new express lanes.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the amount of money awarded to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority for the express lanes project.