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2.0 Plaza Operations and Toll Lane Configuration

2.2.1 State of the Practice

The following are general characteristics of an ETC dedicated lane. While it is recognized there are exceptions to every rule regarding dedicated lanes, these items are deemed to be representative of common practice.

Non-stop ETC lanes meeting all of the following requirements are typically described as ETC dedicated lanes:

  1. Located within a conventional plaza and sharing the same approach and departure zone pavement;
  2. Located in the center or to the left of the conventional plaza and similar in appearance to the other conventional plaza lanes;
  3. Single toll lanes of traffic with minimal or no shoulders;
  4. Separated by either toll plaza islands of the same width as the cash collection lanes or barrier if the lanes do not need to be crossed by plaza staff.

Dedicated lanes result in mixing non-stop traffic into an often congested area designed for vehicles waiting in queues to pay the designated toll. Dedicated lanes within a conventional plaza should be designed to avoid giving a user the impression high-speed travel is allowed in these lanes.

Some operators (e.g., HCTRA in the Houston metropolitan area) built plazas with multiple lanes without islands between them. Even though the other criteria enumerated above would be met, multiple adjacent lanes should be treated as express lanes, because of the appearance as a higher grade of non-stop toll operations.

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