SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Caltrans is looking at perhaps charging motorists to use express lanes as it continues to work on easing freeway congestion on Highway 50 and Interstate 5 near Elk Grove.
Toll lanes are unpopular with drivers, but there’s a reason why they are always in the conversation when Caltrans looks at reducing traffic bottlenecks.
The traffic tie-up between the county line north of the Sacramento International Airport and downtown Sacramento ranks high on the list of commute-hour bottlenecks in the region.
A key factor are vehicles with one person in them.
“We have so many single-occupant vehicles that exist, and we’re trying to change people’s habits and to give them options,” said Caltrans District 3 spokesperson Dennis Keaton.
One of the half dozen options for managed lanes include placing a toll on drivers who have two or fewer people on board.
But there are other options on the table: stand commuter lanes, lanes reserved for busses and mass transit vehicles, commercial traffic-only lanes, or a combination of those.
Traffic has eased a bit during the pandemic while many people are still working from home, but north Natomas is the city’s fastest growing neighborhood. A huge industrial park near the airport is also expected to increase truck traffic, which is already an issue up and down Interstate 5.
Over the past half-a-dozen years, traffic on the corridor has doubled.
“This whole COVID environment that we’re in at some point in time is going to change; it’s going to go back to where those numbers used to be,” Keaton told FOX40.
Caltrans has already held a public input meeting on design options and plans to hold more.
There’s plenty of time left for public input, as the final design approval is not expected for another three years.
Toll lanes have been an option for several other freeway improvement projects but has yet to be used on any local freeway traffic-easing project.