The Florida Department of Transportation has turned to an RFID-enabled solution to create the state’s first variably priced toll lanes. The project, known as “95 Express” turns two lanes of I-95 in Miami-Dade county into high-occupancy tolling (HOT) lanes, available for use by both high-occupancy vehicles and single drivers, with the single drivers tolled at variable rates based on traffic congestion patterns.
I-95 between Miami and Fort Lauderdale is one of the most heavily traveled highways in the U.S., carrying over 290,000 vehicles per day and with traffic volumes predicted to exceed 360,000 vehicles per day by 2030. Widening the highway was cost-prohibitive, so planners turned to alternate solutions to manage the congestion.
The 95 Express project was designed to create non-stop, express toll lanes. Two lanes in the northbound direction were outfitted with RFID-enabled open-road tolling apparatus. In the HOT lanes, variable pricing is used during peak travel times to manage capacity and help maintain traffic flow at speeds greater than 45 miles per hour.
The RFID applications were provided by TransCore, a division of Roper Industries. TransCore installed HOT lane readers, antennas, violation enforcement systems and violation detection systems to enable roadside identification of violators by the Florida highway patrol. TransCore also installed all the necessary roadside equipment and connectivity between FDOT Districts 6 Traffic Management Center and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise operations, located in Boca Raton. This system enables the department to assess variable tolling as necessary as well as monitor the condition of roadside equipment. TransCore will also provide maintenance and monitoring of the system to ensure accurate revenue collection.
Funding for the 95 Express project came from the U. S. Department of Transportation as part of the Urban Partnership Agreement to fight traffic gridlock. The project will expand the express lanes throughout the region in the next year. Similar deployments are also under way in San Diego, Houston, Minneapolis, and Seattle.