$3 for 10 minutes off your commute

The roads have been striped. The public has been warned. And now, a final cacophony of complaints makes it official: Toll lanes are coming to the chronically-congested Highway 237-Interstate 880 interchange in the South Bay.

Starting Feb. 27, single drivers willing to cough the price of a venti Starbucks — or more — will be able to jump into the carpool lane to shave up to ten minutes from their commute.

Traffic studies showed that the expensive fly-over lane built to whisk traffic from the I-880 carpool lane on and off of Highway 237 was under-utilized. Thus came the plan to charge single drivers for the privilege of  joining actual planet-saving carpoolers in a moderately faster 4 1/2-mile stretch of road.

Caltrans is hoping to avoid the confusion that was the I-680 toll lane rollout by phasing in this project for commuters. Thus, the month or so between the completed striping and the beeping of your FasTrak — yes, you’ll need one — to collect your toll.

The aggressively-dynamic pricing of tolls through the interchange make it difficult for us to tell you exactly how much this will cost you for how much distance you drive. Mr. Roadshow at the Merc says at least 30 cents, with an average of three dollars.

Some South Bay drivers aren’t exactly clicking their heels over the new toll lanes. Mark Kentgen of Fremont told the Merc:

“This lane will be completely useless to me. I just hope all the other fools use it, thus reducing traffic.”