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Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program - HOV Lanes and More

What are HOV lanes?
High occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, also known as diamond or carpool lanes, are reserved for buses, vanpools, carpools, motorcycles or any vehicle carrying two or more people.

Benefits of HOV lanes
HOV lanes provide many benefits such as:

  • Efficiency – HOV lanes improve freeway efficiency by moving more people in fewer vehicles. During rush hour, HOV lanes carry one third of the people in only one fifth of the vehicles. 
  • Reliability – HOV lanes improve public transit reliability by allowing buses to maintain their schedules. Carpools and vanpools benefit in the same way.
  • Speed, ease and economy – People who use HOV lanes find that HOV traffic generally moves faster, sharing the ride improves their commute and they save money on fuel and vehicle maintenance.

More than just HOV lanes
In addition to 70 miles of HOV lanes, these projects include many other improvements:

  • Safety – Additional merge lanes; wider shoulders; improved ramp alignment and curves; and improved lighting.
  • Traffic and Operations – Improved mobility due to additional capacity; better roadway alignment and the relocation of on- and off-ramps.
  • Environment – Noise barriers will minimize noise impacts; enhance or expand nearby wetlands; improved methods to treat storm water runoff.
  • Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) – Addition of traffic cameras; electronic signage for traveler notification; highway advisory radio; and traffic data collectors that send data to traffic management centers for monitoring and provide traffic information for the Web and 5-1-1.

Moving Washington
Statewide, WSDOT has built over 220 miles of HOV lanes.  The Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program is extending that core HOV system, most of which is built in King and Snohomish Counties, into Pierce County.