Express lanes could be answer to Veterans congestion

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – Relief could be on the way for the thousands of drivers who sit in rush-hour traffic along the Veterans Expressway or State Road 589. By the end of summer 2016, if the weather permits, sections of the highway will open from four to eight lanes.

The first section of the highway from north Memorial Highway to Gunn Highway will open additional lanes in summer of 2016. Other sections will open in 2017 and 2018.

And then there will be express lanes along Veterans Expressway opening soon. The express lanes from Memorial Highway to Linebaugh Avenue will open by the end of 2017 and the express lanes from Linebaugh to Dale Mabry Highway will open by spring of 2018.

Express lanes will cost more for those who choose to drive in them. The price will vary, depending on demand. The minimum price is 50 cents. There is no maximum price, which means drivers can wind up paying a lot, depending how much demand there is for express lanes.

Rolando Vara spends an equal amount of time traveling south in the morning and north in the evening along the Veterans.

“I take one and a half hour to take Waters Avenue to go back to my office,” said Vara.

However, Vara tells me he is not willing to pay more than the current toll to get to his destination any faster. “I don’t want to pay ten dollars, I use another way.”

The Express lanes will be similar to the lanes used currently in Miami but the lanes in Miami have a maximum toll around $10. Along the Veterans, the minimum toll for the Express Lanes will cost you $.50 to travel from the Memorial Highway to the Dale Mabry Spur on top of the current toll.

“Frustrated, powerless and then you’re paying for it, you’re paying to be stuck in traffic,” said Lynda Calcano about driving in the congestion daily.  “It’s a parking lot,” she added.

Calcano isn’t on board with paying more for the Express Lanes, but she is hoping the new lane opening will help relieve some of the traffic she deals with now.

“I’m not understanding about why the Veterans are a parking lot.  I think it’s absurd to pay to get to where you’re going after paying a toll already,” said Calcano.

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