Gov. Blagojevich today rolled out a $1.8 billion plan
to create "Green Lanes" reserved for Illinois tollway commuters driving
hybrids or traveling in carpools. The governor's office is touting the
plan as a partial remedy to both traffic congestion and vehicle
Gov. Blagojevich today rolled out a $1.8 billion plan to create "Green Lanes" reserved for Illinois tollway commuters driving hybrids or traveling in carpools. The governor's office is touting the plan as a partial remedy to both traffic congestion and vehicle emissions. The Sun-Times reports that there could be more driving the lane reconfigurations than environmental concerns alone:
The Illinois proposal appears to capitalize on a new twist in carpool lanes, high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes that allow solo drivers to use the lanes -- if they pay more.
In the proposed Green Lanes, solo drivers would be charged a yet-to-be-disclosed premium rate above the existing cost of a toll for the right to use the lane (...)
In California, solo drivers pay up to $10 to drive 11 miles in a HOT lane of one L.A.-area freeway. The premium price fluctuates in an attempt to keep the express lanes at optimum traffic levels.
The lanes have been derided by some as "Lexus Lanes," but they help pay for themselves with the higher rates and give drivers an option, albeit a costlier one.
Jacky Grimshaw, a transit expert with the Center For Neighborhood Technology (CNT), isn't buying the governor's pitch. "We have an efficient carpool lane. It's called mass transit," Grimshaw said. "It's called the Blue Line on the Kennedy, the Stevenson has the Orange Line and the Dan Ryan has the Red Line."
Rather than carve out special use lanes, Grimshaw says state officials ought to put all of their energy into passing a capital bill. Then the state would have a chance at recouping some of the nearly $9 billion in federal funding that's sat untouched since 2005. Unless the state commits matching funds, the money may soon be lost. And if it's spent, CNT notes that it could give the local economy a much needed jolt.