In Puget Sound, planners estimated that the conversion of HOV to HOT on a nine mile section of SR-167 would allow 13 percent more vehicles to travel the SR-167 corridor daily, and increase use of HOV/HOT lanes by 38 percent.
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Value Pricing Pilot Program: Lessons Learned - Final Report

Summary Information

This research synthesized evaluation findings from 24 projects sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Congestion and Value Pricing Pilot Program (VPPP) between 1991 and 2006. Strategies evaluated included:

  • High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) to High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lane conversions with pricing
  • Variable pricing of new express lanes
  • Variable pricing on existing toll facilities
  • Region-wide variable pricing initiatives
  • Making driver costs variable
  • Other pricing projects (i.e., voluntary cash out and carshare programs).

This source report included an overall assessment of the impacts of value pricing and included detailed findings for several projects.


HOT Lanes on SR 167 in the Puget Sound Region, Washington

In Puget Sound, a HOV to HOT conversion project was implemented on a nine mile section of SR-167 that extended from 15th Street in Auburn to I-405 in Renton. Expansion of the existing freeway was not required. HOV lanes were re-striped using double white striped buffers to define the new HOT lanes and defined access points.

Transponder-equipped vehicles were allowed to enter the HOT lanes at certain access points. Toll rates were programmed to vary dynamically with the level of congestion in the HOT lanes and ensure tolled traffic flowed at a minimum of 45 mi/hr 90 percent of the time during peak periods. Non-HOV vehicles would pay a single rate for the entire distance of their trip, regardless if the toll rates were updated en-route. Tolls were debited from existing prepaid accounts using the State’s existing windshield mounted sticker transponders (branded "Good to Go" in Washington State). Customers paid $12 to purchase the transponder and were able to set up accounts using credit cards, bank accounts, or cash. Transponder-equipped vehicles participating in carpools (HOV2+) were able to travel for free, however, they had to purchase an in-vehicle transponder disabling device for $3.50. Washington State Patrol troopers were able to monitor the HOT lane traffic. When a single occupancy vehicle with a valid e-sticker entered the HOT lanes, a light flashed on an overhead sensor. If the light did not flash and there was only a single passenger in the vehicle, a state trooper could stop the vehicle and issue a citation for $124. Preliminary capital costs of conversion of these existing HOV lanes were expected to be recovered by net annual toll revenue within 11 to 12 years.

Planning, implementation, and construction occurred from 2004-2008. Operations and evaluation were planned to occur from 2008-2012.

Initial projections indicated that 13 percent more vehicles would travel on the SR-167 corridor daily, and 38 percent more vehicles would use the HOV/HOT lanes while preserving express trips for buses, vanpools and carpools.

More recent reports from the Washington State DOT indicate that HOT operations have been a success. Variable tolling has been used to improve the efficiency of carpool lanes, and improve traffic flow without delaying buses.

See also: "SR 167 HOT Lanes Pilot Project Performance Update," Winter 2010.

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