Consider a Toll Road

This is an idea for the South Coast 101 HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) Lanes project being attempted by Caltrans that will come up through Montecito. The current estimated cost of the project is $380 million. Not all the funding is currently in place, and Caltrans does not have funds to pay for all the needed improvements to the traffic intersections near on- and off-ramps that will need to be improved due to the increase in traffic.

Some of the main goals of the project are to reduce congestion, decrease vehicle travel times, and facilitate the flow of goods and services; to facilitate a mode shift to carpool, vanpool, and bus travel in the corridor; and to implement the 101 in Motion effort. These efforts include adding a lane and a train (a carpool/HOV lane and commuter rail service) and facilitating transit and carpool use.

I have suggested an idea to Caltrans a number of times that could greatly help in achieving these goals: Run a toll gate on the 101 northbound lane near the Ventura River and the Ventura County Fairgrounds. Like the toll gate on the Golden Gate Bridge, this one should be efficient, automated, and not cause any slow down in traffic flow. This toll gate would not be run by a private company, it would be run by the Caltrans, i.e., by California’s state government. This would intercept drivers of vehicles driving northbound on 101 during the heavy morning commute hours, Monday through Friday, say from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. A toll charge would be charged for each vehicle that did not make the current California HOV lane criteria, such as a single driver in the vehicle with no passengers. Trucks, buses, vans would be exempt, of course. The revenue from this toll gate would be used to fund the freeway widening project, as well as create a much better commuter rail service between Ventura and Santa Barbara/Goleta.

These seems to be a good idea to solve some of the goals of the project. It also would provide funding via a user fee paid by the users of the new lane to decrease the congestion during the busy travel times caused by single driver commuters who live in Ventura County and work in Santa Barbara County.

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