TDOT explores possibility of converting HOV lanes to toll lanes

Holiday traffic
Posted at 2:03 PM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 14:06:10-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is exploring the possibility of converting High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes.

TDOT has contracted with Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt University to conduct the study — which aims to "explore the feasibility of alternative systems to the existing [HOV] lanes.” One possible alternative would be to convert HOV lanes to HOT lanes on the outbound and inbound HOV corridors for Interstates 65, 24 and 40 in Nashville.

HOV lanes are used to promote ride-sharing and ease congestion and improve air quality. Drivers that use HOV lanes must have at least one other person with them — unless that person is traveling on a motorcycle, a transit vehicle or in an emergency vehicle.

According to Vanderbilt, HOT lanes are used to promote ride-sharing and reduce congestion by charging a variable fee to those who are not meeting the requirements of HOV lanes.

Vanderbilt said Tennessee’s HOV lanes are currently underused during peak times, and drivers "consistently violate the rules for their use." They added that studies of Google traffic data and traffic simulations showed that outbound and inbound HOV corridors for Interstates 65, 24 and 40 in Nashville experience daily bottlenecks during peak travel time.

Researchers said a previous study showed that violation rates for HOV lanes in Middle Tennessee are 80% to 90%, and typical peak time use rates are 15% to 20%.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story linked to a survey from Vanderbilt University, requesting the public's input on the matter. TDOT issued a clarification on Wednesday, saying the survey was prematurely published due to a "miscommunication" between agencies. To reflect that, we have removed the survey link from the story. TDOT said this is "strictly a research project" at this point.