The owner/operator arrangement for the Managed Lanes project is now official after unanimous votes by both C/CAG and the TA.
Ownership of the tolled express lane facility coming to Highway 101 in San Mateo County belongs to both the San Mateo County Transportation Authority and City/County Association of Governments, and those agencies will contract with the Bay Area Infrastructure Financing Authority to operate the facility.
C/CAG and the TA also voted to create a joint powers authority to make policy decisions related to the express lane facility and that JPA will be comprised of an equal number of members from the TA and C/CAG.
Sandy Wong, C/CAG’s executive director, said board members want the JPA to have independent staff members to ensure the decision-making process is equal and fair.
C/CAG is a joint powers authority comprised of board members representing each city and the county that works on quality of life issues such as air quality and transportation, among others. The TA oversees the county’s half-cent sales tax revenue for transportation, and is under the umbrella of the San Mateo County Transit District. BAIFA is a joint powers authority between the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Toll Authority, or BATA, that manages express lanes elsewhere in the state.
The half-a-billion-dollar Managed Lanes project aimed for completion by 2022 will construct a new lane in each direction of Highway 101 in San Mateo County and then the far left lane in each direction will be converted to a tolled express lane with real-time surveillance equipment. Such a facility promises speeds of 45 mph at all times on the express lanes, which will be free for buses and carpools of three people or more, but other motorists who choose to use those lanes will have to pay a toll. Tolls will fluctuate based on traffic volumes, but initial projections suggest prices will average $1 per mile in San Mateo County.
The operator of an express lane facility manages all aspects of day-to-day operations, while the owner decides tolling policies — whether two-person carpools or clean air vehicles can use the express lanes at a discount or for free, for example — as well as how net revenue is spent and the details of an equity program if one is adopted, among other responsibilities.