Cars drive on highway express lanes
US 101/SR 85 Express Lanes Undergo System Testing

Drivers traveling along US 101 and SR 85 through Palo Alto or Mountain View lately may notice toll prices listed on the newly built Express Lane digital signage. Rest assured, you are not yet being charged for driving on this Express Lane segment, but that day is coming soon. The system is undergoing testing before coming online in early 2022.

Express Lanes testing is part of the final phase in construction, along with completing concrete median barriers, poles and overhead signage, new lane striping, and tolling equipment. In the meantime, drivers should continue to observe current HOV requirements when traveling along the Express Lanes (two or more occupants during peak hours of 5:00 am – 9:00 am and 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm).

VTA’s new Express Lanes extend from near SR 237 to the Santa Clara County border on US 101 in Palo Alto, along with the section of SR 85 between Grant Road and the US 101/SR 85 interchange in Mountain View. North of Palo Alto, drivers will experience a seamless transition as they travel through the south section of San Mateo County’s new Express Lanes. Together, the two facilities provide approximately 12 miles of faster travel up the peninsula.

How the Express Lanes Work

Any driver using Express Lanes in the Bay Area is required to have a valid FasTrak account. Express Lanes use dynamic pricing, whereby the toll increases/decreases with traffic congestion at any given time. In general, tolls are priced to allow a minimum speed of 45 mph in the Express Lane. Should the price change over the course of a trip, drivers will pay the cost listed at the time they enter the lane. Note that a trip crossing the San Mateo/Santa Clara County line will appear as two separate charges on your FasTrak statement. Upon activation, the Express Lanes will operate Monday through Friday, from 5 am to 8 pm.

Toll-free travel along the US 101 Express Lanes is available to vehicles with three or more passengers, motorcycles, vanpools, and buses traveling with a FasTrak Flex or FasTrak CAV toll tag set to position “3+.” Vehicles with two occupants may receive a 50% toll discount with a FasTrak Flex toll tag set in the “2” position.

Owners of eligible Clean Air Vehicles (CAVs) can receive a 50% discount on tolls with a FasTrak CAV toll tag when traveling as a solo driver.

Avoid FasTrak penalties by signing up for your toll tag now!

This new transportation infrastructure represents the latest phase of VTA’s Silicon Valley Express Lanes Program, which is introducing the congestion management solution to several segments of highway corridors in Santa Clara County. The county’s existing segments of Express Lanes currently in operation run along part of I-880 and SR 237, the latter of which was completed in December 2019.

Map of entire Silicon Valley program (SR 237, 85/101 in Mountain View, 85/101 in San Jose, and US 101 in Santa Clara

For more information on VTA’s US 101/SR 85 Express Lanes, or to sign up for updates, visit the project page.

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