Miami FL/I-95 southbound express lanes to toll from Jan 15, year-old NB lanes success
By Peter Samuel
Tolling is scheduled to begin in the two southbound express lanes on the far left side of FL/I-95 between the Golden Glades Interchange and downtown Miami Friday January 15 05:30. Tolls have been collected on two express lanes northbound in the afternoons since December 5 2008.
The new "95 Express" lanes, as they are styled, are open to registered carpools of 3 or more persons, registered vanpools and registered hybrid vehicles, motorbikes and transit buses free of charge. Their spare capacity is open to other vehicles for a toll which is varied in 25c amounts to manage traffic volume to the levels that will maintain free flow.
The prevailing toll rate is shown on variable message signs at entry points to the lanes.
Entries are from (1) I-95 in downtown Miami a bit north of I-395/FL836 (2) a left lane ramp of eastbound FL112 (3) a ramp from NW10th Av/NW39 St Miami. (see circles on the map and a downloadable map of entries and exits with link below)
Northbound there are four exits, some from the left express lane, some from the right.
Toll revenues in the first year of operation of the northbound direction were $4.8m.
7.3m vehicle trips were counted. Average daily traffic weekdays has been about 30k.
Forecasts have been that with both directions in use 65k will use the facility weekdays on average.
Four untolled lanes run alongside the two Express Lanes in both directions. (CORRECTION HERE) Providing four untolled lanes plus two express lanes southbound near downtown Miami required major reconstruction of the FL112 interchange.
Southbound there will be entries from (1) Miami Gardens DR/NW186 St (2) I-95 at NW151 St (3) Florida's Turnpike southbound (4) eastbound FL826 (5) US441.
There are two exits at the southern end, a left lane exit to westbound FL112 in the direction of Miami Internat Airport, a right exit to I-95.
Speeds close to posted limit
A commitment was made to USDOT in seeking funds to maintain speeds at 45mph (72km/hr) or better for 90% of the time the lanes are open.
Before the opening of the northbound express lanes traffic in peak periods was commonly below 20mph (32km/hr). Since opening express lanes travel has generally been at 55mph (89km/hr) the posted speed limit, or more.
Travel in the untolled lanes has increased to 40mph (64km/hr) or more.
Average toll collected has been $1.65. Tolls have ranged most days between 25c and $1.80 with very occasional leaps to $5.00. The prediction is that in immediate future tolls will go up to $2.65 quie frequently and occasionally to $6.20 in times of extreme demand.
Extra lane gained with 11-footing/shoulders
Before the project there was a single HOV lane and four unrestricted lanes. Most of the project involved making use of shoulder space and restriping to slightly narrower lanes with two express lanes and four general purpose lanes.
Storm water drainage had to be extensively improved to make the extra travel lanes.
Ramps had to be modified.
Ramp signals have been installed on 22 entrance ramps (10 NB, 12 SB) to meter entering traffic to the general purpose lanes.
The greatly improved traffic flow is achieved through the addition of a traffic lane and the change from a single underused HOV lane (perhaps 800 veh/hr) to a pair of price-managed lanes that can run 1500 to 2500 veh/hr each.
Lanes throughout are the 11ft (3.35m) near-standard modern urban expressway width compared to the 12ft (3.66m) lanes used in rural areas, and previously in urban areas too.
Lines of plastic posts separate the toll managed lanes from the unpriced unmanaged lanes between crossover zones.
The eventual cost of the 95 Express lanes project is estimated to be $120m, split about equally between US and state monies.
Beginning later this month "95 Express Bus Rapid Transit" will use the lanes providing improved bus service between Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Still to be opened is an extension of the northbound lanes through a relocation of the entrance further south from its current location at I-195/FL112 to just north of FL836. That is due for the spring (2010). That will extend the lanes from 8.1 miles (13km) to 9.7 miles (15.6km).
Extending north to Ft Lauderdale in phase 2
A Phase 2 of the project will extend the express lanes north from the Golden Glades Interchange to I-595 in Broward Co near Ft Lauderdale, making it a full 21.6 miles long (35km). That is hoped to be open by spring 2012.
The project uses an all-electronic toll system from TransCore under contract to Florida Turnpike Enterprise. (CORRECTION) Registration of 3+ carpools and other vehicles eligible for free rides provides the drivers of those vehicles with a registration sticker that must be visible to Florida Highway Patrol police.
The system will provide enforcement police with realtime identification of vehicles without a toll transponder allowing the police officer to focus on vehicles without to see if they have a carpoolers registration sticker, and allowing them to attempt to count the occupants.
The project is by Florida DOT. Surveys have shown strong public support for the toll lanes with 76% saying it has provided a faster, more reliable ride. 56% want it expanded.
TOLLROADSnews 2010-01-07 SMALL CHANGES 2010-01-08 14:15