Sunday, April 27, 2008
"The concept is simple but the idea is bold, to make L.A. an easier place to live, a better place to do business and a cleaner place to raise a family," Secretary Peters said. "We want this iconic American city to continue to be known for its epic Hollywood movies, not epic traffic jams."
In announcing the funding in Los Angeles during an event with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Secretary said that the new federal funding would provide the leverage local leaders need to convert up to 85 miles of local HOV highway lanes into more reliable high occupancy toll, or HOT, lanes by the end of 2010.
These roads use electronic tolling technology to allow drivers to pay a fee for access to less-congested lanes. She added that sophisticated sensors will monitor the region's freeways and adjust fares for the lanes based on traffic levels. Secretary Peters said that being able to choose to avoid back ups to experience faster commutes was "a better option than being stuck in traffic and staring at an open lane just to your left."
The Secretary noted that the federal funds would help finance new bus service to run on the HOT lanes. Experience and data show that HOT lanes lead to better traffic on other parallel highway lanes as well, the Secretary also noted. As a result, commuters using any of the highways with HOT lanes will experience faster, more reliable trips.
She also said that the money generated by the new HOT lane tolls would be available for investments in improved transit services throughout the region. "Even if you are one of the few folks who never use a highway, getting around town is still going to get easier with this plan," the Secretary added.
The region has until October 15th to get the legislative authority needed to convert the existing HOV lanes into the new high occupancy toll lanes, the Secretary said. She added that local leaders "have dared to dream big, and with the support of Sacramento and D.C., their vision of a traffic-free L.A. can become a reality."