Senator: Carpool lanes should be open to all drivers

Senator: Carpool lanes should be open to all drivers

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A Utah state senator is proposing a plan that would let drivers use freeway express lanes during non-rush hour times of day.

State Sen. Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights, is working on a bill that would designate the busy morning and evening traffic jam times and open up the whole road during all other times.

"During the off hours we might as well let people ride in those lanes and lower the traffic across the lanes," Morgan said.

The express lanes are currently limited to those who carpool or pay $50 a month for a sticker that lets them use the lanes.

"The taxpayers have paid for the building of those lanes -- all taxpayers," Morgan said. "They should have some access to those."

Next year the Utah Department of Transportation plans to convert to an electronic tolling system that lets drivers buy a transponder for their vehicle so they can pay for using express lanes by the trip.

Interstate 15 in Salt Lake County features express lanes. UDOT also is building more lanes through Davis and Utah counties as the agency prepares for the electronic tolling conversion.

Bryan Chamberlain, electronic tolling conversion manager for UDOT, said opening the lanes during non-peak times could create confusion for motorists and create enforcement challenges.

"It's a little more understandable if it's (restricted) all the time," Chamberlain said.

People already abuse the system, said Senate President Michael Waddoups. He said changing the rules to invite everyone into the lanes during certain times might worsen the problem.

"You give people a chance to develop bad habits," said Waddoups, who added there isn't a need for people to use the express lanes during times that traffic is moving along well.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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