AARoads Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: Reconfiguring toll bridge approaches  (Read 663 times)

Occidental Tourist

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 608
  • Last Login: July 30, 2021, 01:16:10 AM
Reconfiguring toll bridge approaches
« on: July 21, 2021, 03:18:18 AM »

With Bay Area bridges having switched to fully automated tolling, shouldnít the extra lanes at toll booths now be pared down to reduce the artificial bottlenecks at those plazas?  For example, coming off the 880 and the MacArthur Maze into the Bay Bridge toll plaza, 15 lanes widen to 20 lanes, which then narrow down to 5 entering the bridge.  When people had to stop to pay the toll, these extra lanes made sense.  But with people able to roll through toll plazas at or near highway speeds, this many extra lanes seem both unnecessary as well as an arbitrary method for unduly continuing to burden Oakland with the full impact of traffic congestion backing up at the plaza that could be being partially shifted both downstream to San Francisco and upstream past the interchanges.

For other toll plazas where there arenít several highways converging, the need for many additional toll plaza lanes seems even less compelling than at the Bay Bridge.

Other toll plaza arrangements:
Richmond: 3 lanes to 7 lanes to 2 lanes;
Vallejo: 4 lanes to 12 lanes to 3 lanes;
Golden Gate approach: 4 lanes to 8 lanes* to 4 lanes;
Hayward: 4 lanes to 6 lanes** to 3 lanes;
Fremont: 4 lanes to 7 lanes to 3 lanes.

*It appears they only keep 4 to 6 of the toll plaza lanes open and cone off the remainder.

**There are 9 available toll plazas but it appears they keep 3 of them regularly closed.
Logged

roadfro

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 4296
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Reno, NV
  • Last Login: July 30, 2021, 11:20:12 AM
Re: Reconfiguring toll bridge approaches
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2021, 09:30:39 AM »

Have they removed all the toll booths yet?

If they haven't, then it seems that a project to remove toll booths and reconfigure the approaches would eventually be in order at each location.
Logged
Roadfro - AARoads Pacific Southwest moderator since 2010, Nevada roadgeek since 1983.

mrsman

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 3470
  • Age: 45
  • Location: Silver Spring, MD
  • Last Login: July 30, 2021, 03:54:42 PM
Re: Reconfiguring toll bridge approaches
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2021, 11:19:21 AM »

Absolutely.  There are various degrees of construction at toll plazas that I see here on the East Coast.  Many of the toll booths became EZ-Pass or toll by plate as a COVID measure.  The measure works well enough that, at least here in MD, the toll takers are not planning to come back, even when COVID ends.

In many places, there were plans for open-road tolling.  COVID basically accelerated that.  Ideally, all of the toll booth infrastructure is simply removed and replaced by gantries with EZ-Pass readers and cameras (for toll by plate or toll violation).  MD's Gov. Hogan has been very good about pushing a lot of pro-motorist policies with regard to the tolling.

Obviously, removing the toll booths is not going to happen overnight.  But certainly, the goal in removing the booths would be that there is no need to widen and then reconverge the traffic.  There might be a need to do that during the interim, as drivers do have to slow down through the booths (15-20 MPH).  So if we are talking of 3 lanes of highway on both sides of the booths, perhaps it makes sense to have each lane fan out to 2 lanes while they drive slowly through the booths and then merge back in after the booths to again form 3 lanes.

Here is an article in MD discussing all the steps that they are taking at one plaza.  It is very involved and could probably take many months.  And they have to do the construction work while keeping the highway open to travel.

https://mdta.maryland.gov/JFK-Highway

Logged

1995hoo

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 13087
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Fairfax County, Virginia
  • Last Login: July 30, 2021, 08:22:18 PM
Re: Reconfiguring toll bridge approaches
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2021, 11:29:51 AM »

Any time you're not collecting cash tolls, it doesn't make sense to have more lanes available for toll collection than you have thru lanes on the highway unless the toll collection point is combined with a tolled entrance or exit ramp that is itself delineated with some sort of barrier if traffic using that ramp pays a different toll rate than thru traffic does. I'm thinking of something like this in Virginia (recognizing that it's a toll plaza) where the two lanes to the right are an on-ramp from VA-28 and traffic using those lanes pays a lower toll than traffic coming from the Dulles Toll Road.

My brother was in Florida on business some years back when they were told to evacuate for one of the hurricanes and a major beef he had was that while tolls were waived on the Turnpike, no lanes were closed at the toll plazas, such that people spread out thinking it was a chance to get ahead but then just wound up creating a lot more congestion as everyone had to choke back down. I'm not sure the idea of using two plaza lanes per thru lane really makes sense if traffic volume is heavy. I recall the abandoned Brooklyn-bound toll plaza at the Verrazano Bridge didn't hold up traffic too much, but then a lot of people going through it were used to it and didn't slow down all that much.
Logged
"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
óOlaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"óKolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

heynow415

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 49
  • Location: San Rafael, CA
  • Last Login: July 30, 2021, 12:07:21 PM
Re: Reconfiguring toll bridge approaches
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2021, 12:48:27 PM »

Have they removed all the toll booths yet?

If they haven't, then it seems that a project to remove toll booths and reconfigure the approaches would eventually be in order at each location.

At the Golden Gate they're in the process of doing so.  They've already taken out a couple booths in the northbound direction, holdovers from the days when tolls were collected in both directions, but there is also a gantry project in the works to mount all the automated equipment currently in each booth lane which would then enable removal of the booths.  Of course, there has been much consternation over the "historic" nature of the booths and their architectural significance but they could still keep a couple booths for preservation sake and still have plenty of room to have six lanes through the plaza (the same number as on the bridge).  The Benicia bridge already has several boothless/gantry-served lanes which were put in when the second span was constructed so removing the toll booths there should be pretty straightforward.

Unlike the other bridges where there is a single "feeder" freeway to them with a similar number of lanes as the span, the Bay Bridge is an interesting challenge in that, toll plaza aside, there are 11+ lanes coming from three freeways (80, 580, 880) that still have to merge into 5 lanes.  Even if the toll plaza is removed it seems the metering light gantry will need to remain to deal with the merging issue.
Logged

jdbx

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 102
  • Location: Pleasant Hill, CA
  • Last Login: July 30, 2021, 06:43:37 PM
Re: Reconfiguring toll bridge approaches
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2021, 02:51:39 PM »

Unlike the other bridges where there is a single "feeder" freeway to them with a similar number of lanes as the span, the Bay Bridge is an interesting challenge in that, toll plaza aside, there are 11+ lanes coming from three freeways (80, 580, 880) that still have to merge into 5 lanes.  Even if the toll plaza is removed it seems the metering light gantry will need to remain to deal with the merging issue.

I'm interested in seeing if the MTC is even developing a plan for toll plaza removal here.  It seems to me that the most cost-effective way of handling this would be to move the tolling gantry past the metering lights to where the approach is already narrowed down to 5 lanes.  That is significantly less equipment to install and maintain vs having it upstream of or even on the same gantry as the metering lights.

In the context of other bridges where there are lane drops right after the toll plaza, I think the same idea should apply:  Place the gantries beyond the lane drop.

At the pace of most projects that the MTC is in charge of, I am guessing it will be several more years before we even see plans, much less any actual construction action.


Logged

ran4sh

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 338
  • Age: 34
  • Location: North Georgia
  • Last Login: Today at 12:05:47 AM
Re: Reconfiguring toll bridge approaches
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2021, 03:13:33 PM »

It seems like for the Bay Bridge westbound approach, the Oakland interchanges could be reconfigured to avoid having 11+ lanes going toward the bridge, so that the mainline meter signal could then be removed. E.g. have 3 lanes of I-80 WB (I-580 EB), 3 lanes from I-580 WB, and 2 lanes from I-880 WB. One lane each of I-80 WB and I-580 WB could merge before the I-880 ramp. Then when I-880 merges, one of its 2 lanes merges. Resulting in 5 lanes.
Logged
University of Georgia est. 1785 -  The Birthplace of Public Higher Education in America - 2018 Rose Bowl Champion - 3 W streak vs Ga Tech - 4 W streak vs Auburn

jrouse

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 288
  • Location: Sacramento, CA
  • Last Login: July 27, 2021, 11:44:56 PM
Re: Reconfiguring toll bridge approaches
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2021, 04:41:57 PM »

Prior to COVID there were already plans in the works for the Bay Area toll bridges to go cashless.  I donít know how far along they were or much in the way of specifics other than that they were going to take a phased approach to it and the Bay Bridge was going to be one of the last because of the challenges with the multiple approaches.   I could check with our team in District 4 to see what the status is.   

I do agree with an earlier poster that the metering lights at the Bay Bridge toll plaza will continue to be an essential part of that operation.  I would expect that there will be fewer lanes to meter though (I believe itís 16 or 17 lanes now).Metering lights have also been in place at San Mateo and Dumbarton although to my knowledge those have never been activated.  I donít see much of a reason to keep them if they decide to reduce the number of lanes at the toll plaza. 
Logged

bing101

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 3853
  • Last Login: July 29, 2021, 10:56:19 PM
Re: Reconfiguring toll bridge approaches
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2021, 11:44:14 PM »

Prior to COVID there were already plans in the works for the Bay Area toll bridges to go cashless.  I donít know how far along they were or much in the way of specifics other than that they were going to take a phased approach to it and the Bay Bridge was going to be one of the last because of the challenges with the multiple approaches.   I could check with our team in District 4 to see what the status is.   

I do agree with an earlier poster that the metering lights at the Bay Bridge toll plaza will continue to be an essential part of that operation.  I would expect that there will be fewer lanes to meter though (I believe itís 16 or 17 lanes now).Metering lights have also been in place at San Mateo and Dumbarton although to my knowledge those have never been activated.  I donít see much of a reason to keep them if they decide to reduce the number of lanes at the toll plaza.


I knew Benicia Bridge is one of the toll bridges that is mostly automated to fastrak tolls prior to the COVID-19 pandemic under Caltrans jurisdiction if one is heading northbound on I-680 to Benicia.
Logged

jrouse

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 288
  • Location: Sacramento, CA
  • Last Login: July 27, 2021, 11:44:56 PM
Reconfiguring toll bridge approaches
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2021, 03:14:00 AM »

All the lanes at the toll plazas on the toll bridges are equipped to handle FasTrak.  Prior to COVID every bridge had at least one dedicated FasTrak only lane at the toll plaza.

Benicia is unique because it has open road tolling (ORT).  There are two FasTrak only lanes and the HOV lane on the left side of the plaza which utilize ORT.  The toll plaza was relocated to the south end of the bridge when they built the new northbound span.  They had already completed work on the new toll plaza when then decided to put in ORT and so they went back and took out about half of the toll booths to create the 2 ORT lanes. 

The only other bridge that has any sort of ORT is the Bay Bridge where the HOV/bus lanes have long bypassed the plaza but they put in an overhead gantry when they implemented tolls for HOVs some years ago.  The HOV lane at Benicia was also designed prior to the implementation of HOV tolling. 

Golden Gate will have ORT when they complete their new gantry.  But on all the other bridges, the FasTrak only lanes pass through a toll booth.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2021, 01:07:52 PM by jrouse »
Logged

 


Opinions expressed here on belong solely to the poster and do not represent or reflect the opinions or beliefs of AARoads, its creators and/or associates.