California Department of Transportation

California Department of Transportation

Headquarters - Public Affairs Office

Tamie McGowen
(916) 657-5060

September 4, 2007


Sacramento – Responding to a recent federal order to reduce congestion in High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, Caltrans issued a congestion reduction strategy that focuses on addressing areas with the worst recurrent or daily congestion.

Following a review of data collected between October 2006 and March 2007, specific remedies will be applied to the most severely degraded sections of the HOV system starting in November.

Caltrans’ short-term actions call for increasing enforcement of occupancy requirements, improving incident management, expanding public education and completing HOV lane (gap closure) projects.

“Hybrid vehicles will continue to be allowed to operate on the HOV lane system,” said Director Will Kempton. “Only when no other steps work to reduce congestion, it may be necessary to prohibit single occupant hybrid vehicles from extremely congested HOV segments.”

Transportation funds from Proposition 1B, recently approved by California voters, will help alleviate the degradation issue in the HOV network by funding projects that close gaps and reduce bottlenecks. For example, the HOV lanes on Interstate 880 in Alameda County will be extended from Marina Boulevard to Hegenberger Boulevard.

While Caltrans agrees with the Federal Highway Administration that there are congested segments of the HOV network, the federal definition of ”degraded” is very stringent and could easily be influenced by weather and incidents such as traffic accidents or stalled vehicles.

Under the federal definition, HOV lanes are considered congested when vehicles fail to maintain a minimum average operating speed of 45 miles per hour 90 percent of the time over a 180-day period during the morning or afternoon peak hours.