Caltrans announced Monday that the Interstate 15 Express Lanes barrier will be moved to accommodate three southbound lanes and one northbound lane Monday through Thursday mornings to provide congestion relief for rush-hour commuters.

Over the past year and a half, the I-15 Corridor Management Team, a partnership between Caltrans, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), has been analyzing various Express Lane configurations and their effects on traffic flow during peak commute periods.

Caltrans said data gathered by the team showed that there would be an overall operational improvement during the morning commute, Monday through Thursday, with the lanes configured for three southbound and one northbound lane; however, data did not show an overall benefit for the afternoon commute with the configuration reversed. Traffic on Fridays does not follow the same pattern, so the barrier will not be moved on Friday.

It takes approximately two hours for the barrier-transfer machine to move the entire 16-mile barrier in the middle of the Express Lanes, Caltrans said. This typically occurs from 3:30 to 5:30 a.m. The Express Lanes are returned to the two northbound and two southbound lanes configuration following the morning commute, between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Vehicles can continue to travel in the Express Lanes while the barrier is being moved.

The I-15 Express Lanes provide 20 miles of flexible travel between State Route 78 in Escondido and State Route 163 in San Diego. There are more than 16 access points where drivers have the flexibility to get in or out of the Express Lanes from the general purpose lanes, Caltrans said. There are also five Direct Access Ramps (DARs) that make it easy to enter or exit the Express Lanes from local streets without merging across multiple freeway lanes.

Those who carpool, vanpool, take transit, or who drive a permitted clean air vehicle or motorcycle can use the Express Lanes for free. Solo drivers can get FasTrak online or at Costco to get on their way in the I-15 Express Lanes. FasTrak tolls are automatically deducted based on trip length and traffic in the lanes. SANDAG operates the tolling system for the I-15 Express Lanes.

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