Congestion has not been reduced as much as hoped by the I-95 express lanes through Florida, according to new data from Florida DOT—traffic is only reaching the department’s minimum-speed-limit goal 63.9% of the time.
The express lanes were implemented with dynamic pricing, meaning toll rates change depending on the level of traffic. Currently, prices range between 25 cents and $7.00. The hope was that the higher prices would limit the number of vehicles using the express lanes, known to locals as the “Lexus lanes.” FDOT’s goal is for traffic to stay at a pace of 45 mph 90% of the time during peak periods.
Results have been mixed, however: FDOT data shows there have been 112,119 $7.00 trips in October through 2013—an increase of 125% over the previous three years combined. Traffic actually hit an all-time high in August.
At the same time, average traffic speeds during peak periods have gone up over the lanes’ five years of existence: High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane speeds have increased from 20 mph to 56 and 63 mph (northbound and southbound, respectively), while overall speeds have gone from 15-20 mph to 42-50 mph.
FDOT held a public hearing last week on the prospect of increasing the toll cap for the I-95 express lanes from $1.00 to $1.50 per mile. This would bring the functional maximum toll to $10.50.