Ownership, management of planned express lanes decided

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A joint powers authority consisting of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (TA) and the City and County of Association of Governments of San Mateo County (C/CAG),  will own and set policy for the roughly 22 miles of express lanes planned for U.S. Highway 101 in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

Expected to be completed in 2022, the San Mateo US 101 Express Lanes Project would build an express lane in each direction on highway 101 from the San Mateo/Santa Clara county line to Interstate 380. Carpools with three or more people will be allowed to travel for free, while others can travel in the lane for a toll while maintaining targeted 45 mph traffic flow.

On Thursday, the TA Board of Directors, along with the C/CAG, voted to form a joint powers authority in order to retain ownership of the San Mateo U.S. 101 Express Lanes facility.

As owner, the joint powers authority will set tolling policy, issue violations, adopt incentive programs, budget and pay of operation and maintenance, assume liabilities, adopt an expenditure plan and provide and operating and capital reserves to ensure state of good repair of tolling equipment, according to TA.

Also Thursday, the governing bodies voted to have the Bay Area Infrastructure Financing Authority (BAIFA) operate the San Mateo US 101 Express Lanes facility, managing its day-to-day operation.

Thursday’s decisions were necessary in advance of the final design phase for the project that will determine its technical requirements.

“As C/CAG chair, I was both relieved and inspired by (Thursday) night’s board action approving the direction to approve the San Mateo County/BAIFA owner/operator model and form a JPA with equal representation from both boards,” C/CAG Chair Maryann Moise Derwin said in a statement. “After much difficult discussion, the joint ad hoc committee and staff worked collaboratively to come to a consensus recommendation that everyone felt comfortable with. My board takes it on good faith that the ad hoc committee will work out such JPA details as staffing in a way that represents a true equitable partnership between C/CAG and the TA, as has been demonstrated thus far.”