That’s HOT

Not to worry; we’re not succumbing to the Paris Hilton lexicon. HOT refers to the ingenious transportation policy of converting High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes into High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes, a change that is happily catching on across the nation. Cathy Proctor of The Denver Business Journal reported yesterday on the progress of HOT lanes in Colorado:

In the space of 48 hours in early June, the Denver metro area will observe the 15th anniversary of the opening of the E-470 toll road — and the expected opening of toll lanes on Interstate 25 between downtown and U.S. 36. June 1, E-470 will celebrate the 15th anniversary of operations. The next day, CDOT expects to open so-called “express lanes” on I-25, completing a $9 million conversion of the existing HOV carpool lanes between downtown and U.S. 36. Carpools and buses still would be allowed to freely bypass I-25 traffic during the morning and evening rush hours on the HOV lanes, but solo drivers also would be allowed to cruise through — as long as they have an electronic transponder to pay the sliding-scale toll to access the lanes.

and for those that argue that people don’t like, or won’t be willing to pay tolls …

“There’s a broad acceptance of tolling; you see that in the numbers we have,” said Ed DeLozier, executive director of the highway authority, which operates and maintains E-470. About 70 percent of E-470 drivers use electronic transponders to pay the tolls, DeLozier said, as opposed to pulling through a toll booth to hand over cash. DeLozier credits E-470’s success to customers’ willingness to pay to drive a clear road. “We’re selling services and alternatives,” he said. “People wouldn’t be using the road except they look at the alternatives and say they don’t want to sit in the traffic jam, they want to go around it.”

For more on what’s HOT and what’s not in transportation policy, be sure to check this out.