A $55 million project to create express lanes expected to ease congestion along Interstate 580 through Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore will be opened later this month, transportation officials said Tuesday.
Alameda County Transportation Commission officials at a news conference in Pleasanton provided details on the lanes, including toll rate information.
Arthur Dao, the commission's executive director, said the new freeway lanes will open in two weeks although a specific date has yet to be announced until all toll meters are fully tested and operational. It's likely they will be opened sometime after Presidents' Day.
Dao said the opening will represent "a decade of worth of planning, engineering, development and construction to improve mobility in this congested corridor."
The project builds on a network of existing express lanes in the Bay Area, such as on a stretch of I-680 south of Pleasanton, he said.
The new toll lanes consist of a 14-mile westbound lane that begins at Greenville Road in Livermore and ends at San Ramon Road near the I-680 connector.
There are two eastbound lanes, which span 11 miles between Hacienda Boulevard in Pleasanton and Greenville Road in Livermore.
In both directions, there are areas where access into and out of the express lanes are limited, represented through double white lines.
The new lanes, which will be free to vehicles with two or more occupants and during overnight hours, will be costly to others using the lanes are on weekdays between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. Solo drivers that opt use these lanes will be charged up to $9 for the full length in the eastbound direction and $13 in the westbound direction.
The maximum rates apply to those using the full distance of the lanes. The lanes are otherwise divided into zones that drivers pay for based on where they entered and exited.
The minimum cost is 30 cents per zone, with adjustments to that cost being made by an algorithmic pricing system that pulls data about current traffic levels from sensors.
Tess Lengyel, deputy director of planning and policy for the transportation commission, said the tolls were developed to adjust for supply and demand.
Based on the current price displayed on signage when a driver enters the express lane, the driver is charged through an electronic detection system, she said.
"This is the next generation of technology," Lengyel said. "There are no toll booths. This is how the tolls are generated."
As with other express/toll lanes in the system, there will be no cost to motorcyclists, buses, eligible clean-air vehicles or those who would otherwise be able to access a carpool lane. However, those drivers, including all other opting to use the new lanes, will still need to use a FasTrak Flex toll reading device, which can be purchased in various locations, Lengyel said.
The small battery-powered device has adjustable settings based on whether a vehicle has one, two or three-plus occupants.
She explained that toll revenues will be routed completely to operational and maintenance costs for the express lanes. Any additional funds will be used to support transit projects along the corridor.
"We recognize this is a new system and that drivers will have to adjust to this over time," Lengyel said. "We're trying to do a lot of education to make sure that drivers understand how this operates."