1,001 vehicles use new I-35W MnPASS Express Lanes

NEWS RELEASE

St. Paul, MN – On the first day of operation today (Wednesday, Sept. 30), 1,001 vehicles used the new MnPASS Express Lane on I-35W between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. between 42nd Street and downtown Minneapolis.

Mn/DOT this morning opened a shoulder lane for use as an Express Lane during rush hours. Of the 1,001 vehicles that used the converted shoulder lane, 101 trips were made by MnPASS account holders. Car pools, buses and motorcycles also use the lane.

On the entire MnPASS Express Lanes between Burnsville Parkway and downtown Minneapolis, 506 trips were recorded. This includes motorists who entered and exited the MnPASS Express Lanes at various points throughout the system and may not have traveled the entire route. Price ranged from $0.25 to a maximum of $2.25.

When morning rush hour ended at 10 a.m. today, Mn/DOT reported 110 MnPASS accounts had opened today, with a total of 442 I-35W MnPASS accounts opened since Sunday, Sept. 27. To date, 1,896 MnPASS accounts have been opened on I-35W, and another 12,827 accounts are active on I-394.

About MnPASS
The new I-35W MnPASS Express Lanes include two segments: from Highway 13 in Burnsville to I-494 and from I-494 to downtown Minneapolis. On the segment from I-494 to downtown, transit vehicles, carpools and MnPASS customers will be able to use a converted shoulder lane north of 42nd Street during certain times when traffic is congested. Electronic signs will alert drivers when the shoulder is open or closed. Construction on the Crosstown project continues, and the MnPASS Express Lane segment between I-494 and 42nd Street will open in fall 2010.

Car pools with two or more occupants, motorcycles and transit buses will still use the Express Lanes free of charge. Similar lanes are in operation on I-394 and have proven popular with commuters.

The MnPASS Express Lanes offer motorists improved access to reliable travel in the busy I-35W and I-394 corridors. The MnPASS Express Lanes are separated from regular lanes by either double white lines or a single yellow line. It’s illegal to cross these lines. Overhead signs alert motorists to entry and exit points which are separated from the regular lanes by dashed white lines. You may only enter and exit MnPASS lanes at designated points.

Electronic signs display the current toll-the price you see is the price you pay. If you are a solo driver with a MnPASS transponder or a car pooler, you may safely merge into the MnPASS lanes.

An overhead antenna reads your MnPASS transponder and automatically deducts the posted toll from your prepaid MnPASS account.
Commuters can open a prepaid MnPASS account in less than 10 minutes online at www.mnpass.net or by calling the MnPASS Customer Service Center at 1-866-EZ-RIDE4 (1-866-397-4334).

A MnPASS Welcome Kit will arrive in the mail with easy instructions for installing the transponder in the vehicle, and $25 in free toll credits will be deposited into the user’s MnPASS account. The toll credit can be used after Sept. 30, when the new lanes open, or they can be used now on the I-394 Express Lanes.

New customers who open a MnPASS account before Oct. 31 will receive $25 in free toll credits. As an added benefit, new MnPASS subscribers who purchase a $20 Go-To Card Metro Transit pass, valid on all regional buses and transit, are also eligible for an additional $20 worth of free transit fares.

The $25 in free MnPASS toll credits promotion is good for new accounts opened through Oct. 31, 2009, and cannot be applied to customers who have closed an account in the last six months. This promotion does not apply to transponders added to existing MnPASS accounts. The $25 in free tolls is limited to one per household, not per transponder. The transponder will provide motorists’ access to the MnPASS Express Lanes on both I-35W and the existing lanes on I-394.

About the I-35W Express Lanes
The new I-35W MnPASS Express Lanes include two segments: from Highway 13 in Burnsville to I-494 and from I-494 to downtown Minneapolis. On the segment from I-494 to downtown, transit vehicles, carpools and MnPASS customers will be able to use a converted shoulder lane north of 42nd Street during certain times when traffic is congested. Electronic signs will alert drivers when the shoulder is open or closed. Construction on the Crosstown project continues, and the MnPASS Express Lane segment between I-494 and 42nd Street will open in fall 2010.

New MnPASS subscribers who open an account through Oct. 31, 2009, are also eligible for $20 worth of bus or train fares with the purchase of a $20 Go-To Card. Once enrolled in MnPASS, customers will receive details on how to obtain a Go-To Card, a transit pass that’s valid on all regional buses and trains. Each time a customer rides, the correct fare is deducted from the pass. When the pass gets low, customers can add value to it at http://www.metrotransit.org.

I-35W MnPASS is part of a coordinated effort by Mn/DOT and the Urban Partnership Agreement to manage increasing traffic on I-35W, Highway 77/Cedar Avenue and in downtown Minneapolis. Through a combination of transit, road pricing, technology and telecommuting, project partners anticipate that commuters will experience more transportation choices, less traffic congestion and reduced commute times on some of Minnesota’s busiest roads.

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