Bay Area toll express lanes network gets into development with Atkins-led group, chief John Doan

November 15, 2012
By Peter Samuel

2012-11-15: 76 lane miles of new toll express lanes (TELs) are getting under way in the San Francisco Bay Area with the selection of an Atkins-led team to manage toll services for the projects on behalf of the area Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). Their job is described as being "to provide strategic advice, develop system requirements, and support procurement of a system integrator" for the first Regional Express Lanes Projects.

Caltrans and MTC have begun the federal permitting of 76 miles of toll express lanes (TELs) which they hope to have in operation by 2015, portions of:

- I-680 in Contra Costa County east of Oakland

- I-880 in Alameda Countyin the southeast

- San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge inbound approaches

- San Mateo Hayward Bridge

- Dumbarton Bridge

Solano County on the northeast fringe of the area is studying I-80 TELs.

Success of I-680TEL helped

There is a TEL that has been in operation on I-680 in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties to the southeast since September 2010. It traverses the so-called Sunol Grade southbound and caters to east Bay traffic heading for Silicon Valley. The 680 express lane is generally regarded as a success, and has helped make the case for the extensive  regional network.

The 76 miles are the first projects in a network of 570 miles proposed to be in operation in about 15 years time (2025-2030.)

The Atkins team will work on managing the development, procurement and opening operations of toll systems.

An approved budget of $700k provides the limit on work through procurement of the system integrator for the first 76 miles of TELs. MTC plans to fund a budget in 2012-2013 to support additional management work which may or may not be a continuation of Atkins contract - on oversight of the system integrator, advice on system testing and oversight of operations, and work on the next stage of the regional express lanes network.

Atkins is teamed with Traffic Technologies Inc, Transportation Analytics and Kimley-Horn. In charge will be Atkins' John Doan who was a lead person in  the I-394 and other TELs in the Minneapolis St Paul area.


The MTC selection panel had seven responses to its RFQ.

Auriga, CDMSmith, and eTrans got the chop and the other four were asked for proposals (see panel nearby). In the scoring Atkins 82 just pipped Jacobs 81, and HNTB 77 and IBI 75 followed.

Five of the six panelists voted for Atkins citing the strongest project management skills and experience - Atkins on I-95 Miami, I-85 Atlanta, I-15 in Salt Lake City UT.

Teaming members' strengths in the Atkins proposal were cited as: TTI's ATCAS II and Fastrak work in the Bay area, Kimley-Horn's work on San Diego area I-15 Lanes and work on 511, and lead people who had worked on procurement and system integration.  

Bay Area Regional Express Lanes Network

The planned area network comprises some 570 directional miles of TELs comprising mostly conversion of existing HOV Lanes or extensions.

MTC pitches the network this way: "Expanding the network of Express Lanes would deliver a one-two punch to traffic congestion by closing gaps in the region's high-occupancy vehicle lane network -- thereby benefiting both carpoolers/vanpoolers and express bus riders -- while also improving mobility for solo drivers willing to pay a toll."

Much of the network is a single lane each direction with entries and exits at clearly defined transition zones with exit and merge lanes, a kind of slip lane arrangement with the general purpose lanes.

Cost estimated at mean $5.8m/lane-mile

Estimated cost to develop the TELs network is $5.4m to $6.2m per lane-mile, or $4.1 to $4.5 billion for the entire network. (This is a very different TEL from the 495 ExpressLanes opening this weekend on the Capital Beltway in Northern Virginia with costs of $30m/lane-mile - all those TEL dedicated ramps, and rebuilds of GP lanes!)

  In the Bay Area a third of the network cost of $4.3b or $1.4b billion would be in transition lanes at access and egress points, about 15%  or $700m would go to connector ramps, modifications of bridges and walls, the other half or $2.2b to paving, striping, fencing, signage and toll systems for the TELs themselves.

Modeling shows tolls should range between 14c and $1.00/mile, rates at which the project will be self-supporting financially.

Aim is to have the whole region al network in operation between 2025 and 2030.

TERMS: a year or so back the Feds suggested all HOT, toll express or managed lanes be known as Express Lanes. Trouble is the term Express Lanes is already used to describe the pair of inner roadways in 4-roadway situations where the outer roadways cater to local traffic, and provide more entries and exits to local streets. The adjective Toll is needed to distinguish top-managed express lanes from the older unmanaged express lanes - editor

30 such Unmanaged Express Lanes are listed here:

TOLLROADSnews 2012-11-15

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