I-680 express lanes from Walnut Creek to San Ramon to open Monday

(KRON) — Lower commute times are expected next week with the opening of express lanes on Interstate 680 through the East Bay.

The lanes will run from Walnut Creek to San Ramon and anyone willing to pay will be able to use them.

Driving from San Ramon to San Francisco can sometimes take about two hours.

“I can’t stand being in my car four hours a day sometimes,” said commuter Kristina Calvert.

Calvert makes the drive daily and in her opinion, the afternoon commute is the worst.

“It starts at like 2:30 or 3 and it last until 7,” she told KRON4.

To alleviate the congestion, the Metropolitan Transportation Division will open an express lane in each direction of 680, available for anyone who has a FasTrak.

“As the drivers move in to the express lane that should free up more space in the adjacent mixed flow lanes,” said John Goodwin, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Transportation Division.

Carpoolers, buses, motorcycles and clean air vehicles will be able to use the express lanes for free if they have a FasTrak Flex, solo drivers will have to pay a toll.

“There’s a minimum price of 50 cents for each zone so at the time of lowest demand say 5 a.m. anybody traveling through the entire corridor would be paying 1 dollar.”

But as the congestion increases so does the toll price and so far, there is no limit.

“Depending if I’m running late, I mean I’d pay 5 bucks to get there I would.”

The lanes will be open from 5 a.m. until 8 p.m. but if they are at capacity, solo drivers will not be allowed to use them.

“Travelers who are moving on the corridor are going to likely reap the biggest benefits on what we call the shoulder of the commute– that is just before the real peak and just after the real peak.”

But officials can’t promise a dramatic improvement of traffic during the peak hours.

“It depends on how frustrated I am probably like 5 bucks a day I would pay.”

The express lanes open on Monday at 5 a.m. and there will be an initial grace period for those who enter the express lane without a FasTrak.

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