MTC Invites Residents to Weigh In on Toll Policies As Martinez-Walnut Creek Express Lane Debut Nears
As the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) prepare for the early 2021 start of Express Lane operations on an 11-mile stretch of southbound Interstate 680 from Martinez through Walnut Creek, MTC invites Bay Area residents to learn about and comment on Express Lane toll policies during a public comment period that begins today and will continue through Sept. 9, 2020.
Commuters and other travelers can learn about MTC’s Express Lanes and toll policies on the MTC website at mtc.ca.gov/express-lanes-policies and submit comments by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The comment period will culminate with a virtual Public Hearing conducted as part of MTC’s September 23 public meeting schedule.
Express Lanes use tolling and technology to keep traffic moving for carpoolers, bus riders, motorcycles and solo drivers alike. When tolling operations begin on the new Martinez-to- Walnut Creek segment of I-680, there will be a continuous 23-mile southbound Express Lane running the length of Contra Costa County. In advance of opening the new Express Lane extension, MTC’s Bay Area Infrastructure Financing Authority (BAIFA) affiliate must adopt rules for how tolling will work. BAIFA is proposing to amend its existing Toll Facility Ordinance to set tolling rules for the Martinez-to-Walnut Creek segment that are identical to those already in place for the existing Express Lanes in both directions of I-680 between Walnut Creek and San Ramon:
- Hours of operation - 5 am to 8 pm;
- High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) eligibility – two (2) or more persons;
- Tolls - Eligible HOVs with two or more persons would pay no toll. Solo drivers would pay the full toll. Clean air vehicles (CAVs) would pay a half-price toll. A minimum toll of $0.50 per toll zone would apply;
- FasTrak® required – All vehicles would be required to use FasTrak®, including vehicles eligible for reduced tolls;
- Enforcement and Toll Violation Penalties - Toll enforcement would be automated using license plate cameras as on BAIFA’s existing Express Lanes. If a vehicle does not have a FasTrak® account, a violation notice would be issued by the toll system. Toll violation penalties would be set equal to those charged by BATA, currently $25 for the first notice and $70 for the second notice. CHP would enforce vehicle occupancy requirements, illegal crossing of double white lines and other rules.
More information about the southbound I-680 Express Lane from Martinez to Walnut Creek and about the proposed Toll Facility Ordinance Amendment is available on MTC’s website at mtc.ca.gov/express-lanes-policies or on MTC’s public hearings page at mtc.ca.gov/whats-happening/events/public-hearings.
The public hearing will take place during BAIFA’s regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 at 9:05 a.m. In accordance with Executive Order N-29-20 issued by Governor Newsom on March 17, 2020 and the Guidance for Gatherings issued by the California Department of Public Health, the meeting will be conducted via webcast, teleconference, and Zoom. The meeting webcast, as well as a link and a phone number for participation via Zoom, will be posted on the MTC website at mtc.ca.gov/whats-happening/meetings. Interested members of the public must send in written comments by Sept. 9, 2020 to MTC’s Public Information Office at 375 Beale Street, Suite 800, San Francisco, CA 94105 or via email at email@example.com (please include “BAIFA Toll Ordinance” in the subject line) by Sept. 9. Comments also may be left on MTC’s public information phone line at (415) 778-6757 before 5 p.m. on Sept. 9. After receiving comments, BAIFA will consider adoption of the ordinance amendment at its September 23, 2020, meeting.
MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.