As the first phase of the Express Lanes project wraps up, Caltrans in January will begin widening Highway 101 in San Mateo County, bringing roughly two and a half years of traffic impacts.
The half-a-billion-dollar Express Lanes project will add a new lane in both directions on Highway 101 between Interstate 380 and Whipple Avenue in Redwood City. The far left lane in each direction will then be converted to an express lane on which buses and carpools of three ore more people can travel for free while solo drivers will have to pay a toll, which is estimated to average $1 per mile in San Mateo County.
The goal is to eventually construct uninterrupted express lanes from San Francisco to San Jose and throughout the Bay Area.
Caltrans officials are still working out their construction plan for the widening of Highway 101 but the work will occur at night, likely between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, said Caltrans spokesman Jeff Weiss.
During construction, which is expected to continue through mid-2022, segments of the far right lane in both directions will be closed to traffic and used for storing equipment while the new lanes are constructed. It has yet to be determined what length of those lanes will be out of commission and when. It has also not been determined if the work will begin in the north or south, Weiss said.
“[The project] will have an impact on traffic and will most likely cause congestion,” Weiss said.
Another major part of this phase of work is existing sound walls will be torn down and rebuilt because they currently stand in the way of the project.
The first phase of the project converted the existing carpool lanes between the Whipple Avenue exit and the Santa Clara County line into Express Lanes. The work entailed sign installation and restriping, among other tasks.
Officials say users of the new lanes will be able to travel at least 45 mph at all times and the plan is to also roll out a series of express bus lines to travel on those lanes. SamTrans has already debuted one such bus line called the FCX which connects Foster City to San Francisco. It’s one of six express bus lines that will be rolled out in the coming years.
Express Lane tolls are expected to generate between $10 million and $20 million each year.