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MAG Managed Lanes Network Development Strategy

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Arizona House Bill (HB) 2396, passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed by Governor Brewer on July 13, 2009, enables the state, through the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), to consider the use of Public-Private-Partnerships (P3) as a tool for financing transportation infrastructure in Arizona. This new law grants ADOT broad authority to partner with the private sector to build or improve Arizona transportation facilities. Since the program's inception, ADOT has established an Office of P3 Initiatives to establish program guidelines and create a process for implementing the program.

Often when a P3 project is established, the public sector partners with the private sector to develop the transportation project. Typically, funding for the project comes from both sectors. In an exchange for managing the risk of developing the transportation project, the public sector grants a concession agreement to the private sector for a set period to allow recovery of their funding with interest. During this set period, which can range from 30- to 100-years, the private sector is responsible for operation and maintenance of the infrastructure. While the private sector funding recovery can be accomplished through a variety of methods, the most common is the imposition of tolls on the transportation project during the set period. Throughout the set period, and at the conclusion of the concession agreement, the public sector maintains ownership of the transportation project.

In the Phoenix metropolitan region, ADOT has been coordinating with MAG to identify the potential for using P3 as a tool for funding transportation improvements, especially in light of recent shortfalls that have been realized by declining Proposition 400 revenues. During the course of the discussions by the Transportation Policy Committee, a presentation was made to consider Managed Lanes that would provide new capacity along the MAG Regional Freeway Network as an introduction to P3 opportunities for the Region. Managed Lanes could be implemented as a supplement to corridor and would not require all users to pay a toll to travel along a freeway corridor.

Often referred to as HOT (or High-Occupancy Toll) Lanes, these lanes are either converted HOV lanes, or new lanes constructed along existing freeway corridors. The lanes may be signed free for carpoolers and busses, and are also offered to toll-paying single occupant drivers for their use. In most locations the tolls are varied based upon the demand for the managed lanes. If the free general capacity lanes are congested, then the tolls are raised to keep travel within the managed lanes as free-flow as possible to keep the trip time reliable for the carpoolers, busses, and the toll-paying single occupant commuter. The general capacity lanes would remain non-toll and free to all commuters that do not want to pay for an uncongested travel time.

Managed Lanes are in various stages of development in 19 urban areas of the United States. Of these locations, eight urban areas presently have managed lanes open to traffic and in operation, and another three locations are under construction. The most ambitious project that is under construction as a P3 operation is along southwest leg of Interstate 495, the Capital Beltway, between Interstates 95 and 395 and the Potomac River, by the Virginia Department of Transportation. The key promise of this $2 billion project is not only to provide 56 new lane-miles of capacity, but to replace over 50 aging and deficient overcrossing structures of the freeway that would have taken the Virginia Department of Transportation decades to complete through conventional methods.

While it is possible to develop managed lane facilities along individual corridors, it might be difficult to assess the ability of individual corridor to function within the context of the entire MAG Regional Freeway System. Given this opportunity, a multi-phase MAG Managed Lanes Network Development Strategy is proposed to establish the feasibility for introducing this concept to the Phoenix metropolitan area. The request that accompanies this summary transmittal is to conduct the first phase of the Development Strategy by conducting a System-Wide Managed Lanes Feasibility Study. In this phase the following would be conducted:

  • Assessment of Existing and Future HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) Lane use
  • Identification of critical gaps in the system
  • Assessment of basic soundness of a Managed Lanes Network in the MAG Region
  • Formulation of a MAG Managed Lanes policy
  • Selection of pilot Managed Lane corridors

On November 15, 2010, the MAG Regional Council authorized procurement of consultant services to develop the MAG Managed Lanes Network Development Strategy - Phase I project. Parsons Brinckerhoff was selected as consultant for the first phase. The project began in July 2011 and is anticipated to be complete by Fall 2012.

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Senior Engineer:
Bob Hazlett
MAG Transportation