By Chris Lisinski, State House News Service

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, NOV. 23, 2020 (State House News Service) —  When the Baker administration concluded last year that roadway congestion had reached a “tipping point” in Massachusetts, one option it targeted as part of a possible solution was setting aside lanes where drivers could choose to pay a premium for faster travel.

Department of Transportation staff determined after months of follow-up study that 10 different stretches of highway in the state could feasibly host such a system, often referred to as “managed lanes.”

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Officials examined four options: changing an existing high-occupancy vehicle lane to a high-occupancy tolled lane, repurposing a shoulder into a tolled lane, converting an existing travel lane into one with a toll, or building a new lane altogether.

Stretches of Interstate 93 rated highest on the suitability study, while parts of Interstate 95, Interstate 495, Route 2, Route 27 and Route 139 all landed in the list of 10 highway segments with potential feasibility.

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The results of the initial screening, which staff presented at a MassDOT board meeting on Monday, do not guarantee that state leaders will embrace managed lanes, but they are a noteworthy first step toward embracing a strategy in place in parts of Virginia and Utah.

MassDOT’s Carrie McInerney, who helped present the screening study Monday, stressed that the findings are not a “slam dunk” in favor of managed lanes, but instead show that they are a possibility. State officials plan to continue studying the topic and will draft a white paper examining potential equity issues with managed lanes in Massachusetts.

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(© Copyright 2020 State House News Service)