Several miles of new HOV lanes have opened in Chandler and the West Valley! ADOT opened the new stretches of High Occupancy Vehicle lanes along the Loop 202 Santan Freeway in Chandler and the Loop 101 Agua Fria Freeway in the Glendale and Peoria area.
The completion of the new eastbound Loop 202 carpool lane east of I-10 marks the end of an $84.7 million project to add 12 miles of HOV lanes in each direction between I-10 and Gilbert Road in Chandler. That project includes the addition of elevated HOV lane ramps that provide carpoolers with direct connections between Loop 202 and the Loop 101 Price Freeway as well as I-10.
Along the Loop 101, crews opened a 12-mile stretch of the new westbound and southbound HOV lane between 51st Avenue and Glendale Avenue. ADOT is adding 30 miles of new carpool lanes in each direction along Loop 101 between State Route 51 in north Phoenix and I-10 in the West Valley. Work on that $90 million project began in January of this year. Sections of the new lanes have been opened in stages as the project advances. All the carpool lanes are scheduled to be open to traffic by November.
The payoff for having these HOV lanes is significant. Not only do they help improve traffic flow and encourage carpooling, but they also expand transit opportunities (think express bus service). People who use them save time and money; and, we all enjoy the benefits of cleaner air thanks to fewer auto emissions.
But you're probably asking yourself the same question we at ADOT are frequently asked: Why don't we build the HOV lanes when we build the freeway?
It's a good and fair question. To answer it, we'll use an analogy that should hit home for just about anyone who's ever purchased a house. We all dream about the add-ons we'd love to have from the get-go: the in-home theater, the furnished game room or the gourmet kitchen with stainless steel appliances. Most of us, though, don't have the budget to get everything at once, so we start with what we can afford to meet our needs at the time, and save up or secure additional financing later for the improvements on our wish lists.
It's quite similar when it comes to building our Valley freeways. Constructing them to 100-percent capacity all at once is usually not financially feasible. As a result, we build and improve freeways in phases, using the funding that is available when the project is scheduled to begin.
We plan for the eventual construction of HOV lanes very, very well. It's no coincidence that we have ample space available down the center of the freeway mainlines. In fact, we plan and build freeways from the outside-in, so we have the land we need and the blueprint for design as soon as we get the thumbs up to begin the next phase of work. What appear to be dirt medians are precisely measured alignments for new lanes; even overpasses are built so additional lanes will fit beneath them 5, 10 or even 20 years later.
Check out this ADOT video that explains in more detail how HOV lanes are funded, planned and constructed.