Interstate 15 Express Lanes signs to be replaced at a cost of $1.5 million

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Interstate 15 Express Lane signs are being changed from white to green, with other improvements, at a cost of $1.5 million, the San Diego County Association of Governments said Thursday.

A research effort determined that the existing signs could be difficult for drivers to read, and that information about toll rates and permission to use the lanes was unclear, according to SANDAG.

"There's quite a bit of confusion on the motorists part, trying to understand, can I actually get in there as a carpool or not?" said Ray Traynor, SANDAG's director of operations. "Having a system that's clear to the end users is vitally important so that the lanes operate effectively."

A spokesman for Caltrans says research showed a green sign with white text was more difficult to read, with the amount of information on the sign. 

The I-15 Express Lanes stretch for 20 miles between SR-78 in Escondido and SR-163 in Kearny Mesa. There are more than 16 access points where drivers can move in or out of the lanes.

WHAT WILL CHANGE

The upgraded signs were designed to address the concerns from I-15 commuters.

Improvements include:

  • Current toll rates
  • New color
  • Estimated travel times
  • HOV 2+ Free will replace the diamond HOV symbol

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT CONSTRUCTION

Crews will install signs at night between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. to minimize the impact on traffic. Installation will start in the northbound lanes and move north along the freeway.

The entire project should be finished by June, officials said.

WHO CAN USE THE LANES

The rules regarding which drivers can use the lanes will remain the same. Drivers who do not qualify are at risk of citation.

  • Carpools
  • Vanpools
  • Transit services
  • Permitted clean air vehicles
  • Motorcycles
  • Solo drivers with FasTrak

FASTRAK TOLLS

The FasTrak transponders, which are small radio devices mounted on windshields, measure tolls and are available online and at Costco.

The system tolls will remain the same, between 50 cents and $8. The per-mile toll is recalculated every three minutes based on the level of traffic in the Express Lanes. Tolls are established when a driver enters the Express Lanes and changes during a trip do not impact tolls.

Solo drivers will not be allowed to use the Express Lanes when an “HOV ONLY" is displayed on the overhead signs.

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