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Single Drivers Can Use HOV Lanes For A Price

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - It's a common complaint from commuters: "There's no one in them and everyone else is sitting in three lanes of traffic," says Molly Minatra.

"It's very frustrating when there's three or four lanes blocked up and that lane right there is wide open," adds Tyrone Billington.

They're talking talking North Texas' nightmarish traffic gridlock, while HOV lanes-- the Holy Grail of the daily commute- are nearly empty.  But, in the coming months, those off-limit lanes will become available to single drivers, willing to pay a toll.

"I would pay an extra dollar or two to have that lane opened up," says Billington. "It's very frustrating to see an open lane go to waste."

For now, worries about a three person minimum for HOV lanes have been put to rest.  Transportation leaders with the North Texas Council of Governments hashed out a plan that avoids punishing those commuters already carpooling, and conserving.

"We were able to work out a compromise where the HOV users we have now, any 2+ users will continue to use the lanes," says Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.  "But we'll also be able to bring in revenues that we badly need to build new roads by selling the excess capacity to single occupancy users."

Local leaders stress that drivers without passengers will only be able to access those HOV lanes that aren't crowded.  But, for frustrated commuters, it's good to have options.

"I guess it depends on how expensive or inexpensive it would be," says Kyle Bannerman, who commutes from Southwest Fort Worth to Arlington every day.  "But hey, if it would save me 10-15 minutes in traffic. I'd try it."

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