95 Express

Last Wednesday, I had the chance to drive north along I-95 in Miami-Dade County where I snapped the pictures below of the then incomplete sections of 95 Express, the variable priced road pricing scheme program going into full effect by 2010.  Little did I know that just 2 days later, FDOT would be “completing” the first segment of 95 Express and opening the lanes up to the public.  Driving, I actually thought to myself “This should make for some interesting conversation on TM.”  In fact, had I known this, I likely would have driven north to Palm Beach instead of taking tri-rail this past Friday.

95 Express

95 Express’ opening day was a disaster.  I will tell you why.  This is the sort of outcome you should expect when our government blindly throws hundreds of millions of dollars at an unproven concept.  Not congestion pricing.  We are generally in favor of road pricing policies because of their effectiveness in reducing urban congestion and smog.  I am concerned with the urban partnerships program.  Essentially, this program threw $1 Billion dollars at five cities to “relieve congestion” in existing rights of ways while combining public transportation with road pricing.  Or in the preferred government alliteration speak:

The Department sought applicants to aggressively use four complementary and synergistic strategies (referred to as the “4Ts”) to relieve urban congestion: Tolling, Transit, Telecommuting, and Technology.

Now, how a transportation project can go from conception to construction in just over 1-year’s time is beyond me, this process is sure to be riddled with problems.  Note: In August 2007, the Secretary announced five final urban partners: Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle.

I predict that most Miami drivers will have no problem mowing down the delineated candlestick markers, just as they managed to do along Dolphin Mall Blvd (see below), or Kendall Dr. (Note: here they raised the delineated markers onto a concrete curb after they had been plowed a few times, encouraging most Hummer sedan drivers to stray away.)

This is likely an issue which we’ll be writing on frequently and is the subject of much controversy (especially now) in South Florida.  Before I get to the transit aspect of 95 Express, let’s open this up for some conversation…

14 Responses to “95 Express”

  1. 1 kevin

    “95 Express” is the dumbest thing they could do. The HOV lanes were working just fine and tolling us is ridiculous. Noone even wanted these toll lanes, so why did they do it? Because they don’t care about us. Idiots.

  2. 2 L2M

    The planning of this is pretty piss poor. My GF has a northbound commute in the morning up to FLL but she can’t take advantage of the HOT lanes because they begin at 195 and she gets on at 82nd St. So basically the northbound morning commute, which is obviously much less congested than southbound, there is a loss of two lanes because the few people who get on NB from downtown are the only ones that can use the lanes. Totally absurd.

  3. 3 Wendy Golding

    I-95 toll lanes cause chaos, crashes


    I, too, live in the area between downtown and the Golden Glasdes, and therefore will hardly ever have the chance to make use of these lanes. Were there studies done on the numbers of cars who would actually make that four mile stretch frenquently enough to warrant two lanes to that use? I would rather see one paid direct lane, and a second unpaid HOV lane, as these physical. immovable barricades forever tie up those lanes regardless of road conditions (If there is an accident, can police open up those lanes for use? What about emergency vehicles now having reduced road space?). It seems a poorly imagined and horribly executed plan. And FDOT’s strongest response is more signage and more permanance in the lane barriers.

  4. 4 Steven

    In many of the articles and news stories discussing the HOT lanes, they mention how the HOV lanes were a failure. I tend to agree with that statement for Miami because of the way HOV lanes were handled.

    When I drive up north and pass through Atlanta, I can see how HOV lanes are supposed to be handled. Every exit of the main roadway has an HOV only exit and entrance as well. Essentially, the HOV lanes are their own road completely. Because of the infrastructure and planning that went into the HOV lanes on I-75 in Atlanta, traffic flows smoothly. Additionally, HOV lanes in Atlanta are 24 hours a day and 7 days a week and allow Motorcycles and alternative fuel vehicles on it. Because of the better infrastructure in Atlanta, I feel that HOT lanes would work well there.

    In Miami, HOV lanes were implemented horribly. Not only do they have specific timeframes that they are active, but to get on and off, drivers have to merge and cross four or more lanes of traffic. Even if the HOV lanes were moving fast and smooth while the rest of the roadway was stopped, drivers would have to get stuck in the traffic and hassle to get on or off. To even consider implementing HOT lanes, the counties should have first considered getting HOV right.

    On a side note, in the Herald earlier in the week there was an article discussing the HOT lanes that featured a spokesperson from the I-95 HOT Lane project group saying “Not to minimize the impact this had — there were injuries, there was property damage, there were thousands of people inconvenienced by this. But some of this is to be expected.” I don’t know, but to me, if accidents are “expected”, especially accidents that cause injury then whoever “Expected” them should also “Expect” to pay all the fees associated with the accident.

  5. 5 Emperor Tomato

    I remember when my girlfriend got a hybrid, and part of the deal she got a HOV pass. Apparently, they took that away when they did away with the HOV.

  6. 6 Sean Bossinger

    Emperor Tomato, hybrids are still eligible to use the lanes, as long as they are registered appropriately.

    All of the hemming and hawing that is going on here about this is giving me a headache. The biggest roadblock to effecting change on gridlock here is to not implement the “good” now, for the sake of waiting to (maybe someday, but probably never) implement the “perfect”.

    Could the design have been better thought out? Sure. Is this the most perfect solution those of us with endless budgets and endless dreams can think up? No. It isn’t. But does it begin to put a dent in the stream of cars that travel from Downtown Miami north to Broward on a daily basis? I think it will.

    With gas prices on their daily climb, 95express will free up those lanes to let the Miami-Dade Transit Route 95 Express buses use them in that in-vogue Bus Rapid Transit mode that is part of an integrated transit system. It will also give those commuters who want to make the choice to pay $2.50 and up for an express ride from downtown Miami to the Golden Glades the freedom to do so.

    If it were up to me, I’d rip up I-95 and replace it with a maglev train from here to West Palm Beach, with stops every 10-20 miles. Further, I’d put in feeder routes all along that trunk line that would aid in driving the business to the maglev in order to make it viable.

    But, it’s not only up to me.

    Quite frankly, I think 95express gives us something to look forward to. It’s the kind of decent, out-of-box thinking that we need to break the logjam.

  7. 7 JM Palacios

    Mag-lev FTW!

  8. 8 JM Palacios

    I had driven I-95 a couple times before they had the barricades up, and the main thing that caught my eye was the double solid white line, indicating it is ILLEGAL to cross (as opposed to single solid white line, where crossing is merely discouraged). I figured no one would be enforcing that, but I still tried to avoid crossing the lines on principle.

    With that said, there are 2 problems:

    Very few I-95 drivers realize it’s illegal to cross a double solid white line, in part because we have not had many around here.

    Because of the ignorance, FDOT could have started by leaving the double solid lines up longer and begun ticketing lane changers heavily, plus a media campaign that it was illegal to change lanes there. That would have gotten people used to the driving pattern change without causing accidents. Once the driving habit was established, putting up the plastic barriers would have changed nothing.

    Hindsight is 20/20 of course.

  9. 9 howard

    Does the Sunpass equipment only scan transponders at the entrance to the toll lanes? If so, couldn’t cars sneak through the broken barriers or go between the barriers at a low speed once they are past the entrance so as not to pay the toll?

  10. 10 Mike G

    I think the Express 95 is very poorly thought out and very dangerous. I also think it is salvageable.

    Why not harden up the far left lane and charge Sun Pass accounts accordingly. The make the second land an HOV lane free of barriers. The state gets its money, the HOV lane gives deserved benefits to qualified carpools, hybrids, school buses, etc. Entry/exit to the HOV lane is permitted at any point of the 95 Express project.

  11. 11 Dory

    i have a friend who drives to SW to work and he said he doesn’t think putting toll collection on a federal Highway is legal and it was piad for already.

    Does anyone know the LAW?

  12. 12 Gabriel Lopez-Bernal

    Dory, It was a project that was funded through the USDOT through their Urban Partnerships program. The Program designated 5 cities to receive a share of $1 Billion to be used on these types of congestion pricing projects. NYC attempted to implement a citywide congestion pricing program similar to that of London.

    The program is legal. It is important to remember that lanes weren’t taken away from the “free” segments and that HOVs are still allowed to use the lanes free of charge.

  13. 13 Mobley

    I think that the HOV lanes are working much better than the first week that the barriers went up. I come in and out of downtown daily to work and for the person to state that the HOV lanes only benefit a few must not work in the downtown area. Moving the barriers closer eliminating a lot of vehicles cutting in and out thereby eliminating accidents. Yes there are still problems,but overtime that will change. Since there is no toll at this time there are times the HOV lanes are slowe than the regular lanes. It will be quiet interesting to see what the Southbound project will be like when it is implemented.

  14. 14 Peter

    The pylon “candlestick markers” may not be the wrong solution, the state may just have the wrong brand of pylons. The right product might work; they do in other areas of the country.

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