The first high-speed non-stop electronic toll collection lanes in the US were “express lanes” built with new construction on Oklahoma’s Kilpatrick Turnpike, and Denver’s E-470 in 1991. Others followed shortly in Georgia, Texas and California. The Illinois Tollway constructed the first plaza conversion to provide express lanes in 1999. Current practice has been developed under a variety of design guidelines, but the implementations are more consistent than in the case of dedicated lanes.
Non-stop ETC lanes meeting all the following requirements are typically described as ETC Express Lanes:
Express lanes are physically separated from the adjacent conventional plaza toll lanes. Some facilities have “express lanes” that generally meet the design criteria given above, but still require vehicles to slow down below the posted highway operating speeds and to make merge and diverge movements in navigating the toll site. Passenger cars, buses, and trucks should be allowed to use the express lanes given the current capability of automatic vehicle classification equipment and devices. The only exception would be for a single express lane, in which case consideration should be given to banning trucks because of delays caused by these slower moving vehicles. For this reason, and because of problems caused by stalls and other lane blockages, a single express lane design should be avoided under mixed traffic flow conditions.
Since the advent of zero-cash toll collection, the term “Open Road Tolling,” or “ORT,” has come into use. ORT was originally used to refer to “all-electronic” facilities, such as SR-91, Toronto 407 ETR, Melbourne CityLink and the Cross-Israel Highway. Usage of this term has evolved to also refer to non-stop lanes in which the express lane cross section exactly matches the upstream mainline toll road cross-section. For example, a road with 10’ right shoulder, three 12’ lanes, and an 11’ left shoulder on the mainline would have the same express lane cross section through the tolling zone or point. Access to the adjacent conventional toll plaza lanes would be designed the same as an interchange.
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