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Reversible express lanes
Prevedouros, Panos D. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Stone, Martin Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority, Tampa, Florida.
- Terminal gateways
- Traffic improvement
- Tolling system innovations
- Construction and cost
- Worldwide applicability
- Additional Reading
A most unique toll road, Tampa's Crosstown Expressway reversible express lanes (REL) opened to motorists in July 2006. It is developed, owned, and operated by Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority. REL is a common-sense transportation solution that addresses urban congestion by combining the innovations of concrete segmental bridges, reversible express lanes, cashless open-road tolling, and full electronic controls. The revolutionary “six lanes in six feet” freeway was constructed within the existing right-of-way of the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway (Fig. 1). It provides three lanes toward Tampa in the morning peak and three lanes out of Tampa and into the rapidly growing suburb of Brandon in the afternoon peak. During midday, a central segment is closed and the Tampa and Brandon segments operate independently on a direction that optimizes local traffic circulation. Only cars and buses are allowed on the REL. A $1.50 toll was charged in 2007, but entry is unimpeded because tolls are collected electronically via in-vehicle transponders or with license-plate recognition. REL has provided a major reduction in congestion. Before-speeds of less than 15 mi/h (24 km/h) in the peak hours rose to free-flow speeds of about 60 mi/h (100 km/h), which translates to up to a full hour of round-trip travel-time savings for many commuters. In addition, REL was constructed at a record low cost per mile, had minimal environmental impacts, created a minimal disruption to adjacent traffic, and spurred development growth in both Tampa and Brandon. Actual traffic volumes have exceeded forecasts by 25%.
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