We know this is coming for I-10, and now Metro is talking about converting HOV lanes to HOT in other corridors.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority is proposing to convert its High Occupancy Vehicle lanes to High Occupancy-Toll lanes, where buses and carpools ride for free alongside toll-paying solo drivers.
Under a proposal from Metro to the Texas Department of Transportation, tolls would be collected electronically and increase with congestion to keep traffic moving, said Carlos Lopez, TxDOT director of traffic operations.
Metro spokesman George Smalley said agency officials were not available for comment Tuesday.
"The premise is to try to get every bit of capacity out of the HOV lanes," Lopez said. He said Metro proposed the idea to TxDOT several months ago "because they wanted to make sure that the HOV lanes kept their good travel time.
"When the two-plus lanes become crowded, you go to three-plus, and then you have this huge drop in volume, and the lane's capacity is not being used," he said.
Lopez said it would require public input, as well as approval by the Metro board, the Texas Transportation Commission, the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration, which helped fund the HOV system.
Should those approvals be granted, a changeover could come in 2009 or 2010, he said.
The item is on the agenda -- for discussion only -- of the transportation commission, which meets at 9 a.m. Thursday at Sugar Land City Council chambers, 2700 Town Center Blvd. North.
I'm a little puzzled by this, however:
Under legislation enacted this year, the Harris County Toll Road Authority gets the right of first refusal to operate any toll projects in Harris County, but county infrastructure director Art Storey said he would be wary of seeking to run the proposed HOT lanes.
"I have considerable scars on my back regarding variable pricing," Storey said, referring to an unpopular -- and short-lived -- proposal to reduce congestion on the Westpark Tollway through a sharp rush-hour toll increase.