Los Angeles County's first toll lanes, which will allow solo drivers to bypass traffic by paying to use 11 miles of carpool lanes on the 110 (Harbor) Freeway, will open a bit later than originally planned.
Instead of opening to traffic on Saturday shortly after midnight, the lanes will officially open to solo drivers beginning either late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, depending on the rainy weather.
Before the lanes can open, covers over the ExpressLanes signs must be removed by Caltrans crews.
"We are in a wait-and-see mode," Metro spokesman Rick Jager told the Daily Breeze. "This is all predicated on weather conditions, on whether our crews can get out there and uncover those signs."
The toll lanes, which are part of a one-year pilot project, stretch between the Harbor Gateway Transit Center at West 182nd Street near Gardena and Adams Boulevard near downtown Los Angeles.
Motorists who open ExpressLanes FasTrak accounts and obtain transponders for their cars will be charged between 25 cents and $1.40 per mile, depending on traffic. If traffic slows to below 45 mph in the lanes, solo drivers will be alerted via digital signs and barred from entering.
Metro predicted that solo drivers who use the lane daily will pay about $4-7 per day.
Carpoolers will not be charged for using the lanes, but must also get a transponder in their cars. A switch on the transponder lets the system know whether or not the vehicle has a solo driver or carpool. Metro officials said the transponder has a system of lights that can be spotted by California Highway Patrol officers to catch solo drivers who try to claim they are carpooling.
More than 30,000 drivers have opened FasTrak accounts, exceeding an initial goal of 25,000 orders.
To get a transponder, drivers need to open an account with a minimum of $40 for customers who use a credit or debit card. Drivers opening an account with cash or a check will have to pay a $25 deposit for the transponder and start with a minimum balance of $50.
Los Angeles County residents with an annual income at or below $37,060 for a family of three will only have to pay $15 to open an account, with Metro subsidizing an additional $25.
The $290 million project was funded in part by a $210 million federal grant, with the rest coming from local money. After operating costs, revenue from the tolls will go toward infrastructure improvements in the toll lane corridors.
Drivers can open a FasTrak account online at metroexpresslanes.net, by calling 511 and saying, "Express Lanes," or at one of two walk-in centers located at 500 W. 190th St. in Gardena and 3501 Santa Anita Ave. in El Monte.
Duarte Councilman and Metro board member John Fasana said over the summer that the opening of the lanes will bring Metro into "the congestion pricing arena with the hopes of better managing our existing infrastructure while changing commuter behavior by offering real transportation alternatives along these two heavily traveled corridors."
A 14-mile ExpressLane is scheduled to open next year on the San Bernardino (10) Freeway between roughly downtown Los Angeles and the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway.