The Minnesota Department of Transportation on Monday will start charging fees for drivers who use the new MnPass Express Lanes on Interstate 35E north of St. Paul. The lanes officially opened Nov. 30 but had been free for the past five weeks as MnDOT promoted the lanes which are reserved for motorists willing to pay a fee a congestion-free option during the morning and afternoon travel rush.
The new lanes will stretch from Cayuga Street in St. Paul to Little Canada Road, according MnDOT. On southbound I-35E, the lanes will operate between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Northbound express lanes will operate between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The cost for solo MnPass account holders during peak drive times will range from 25 cents to $8, with the rates posted on signs over the lanes.
Vehicles with two or more passengers may use the MnPass lanes for free. And the lanes are open to all drivers during nonpeak periods.
The I-35E MnPass lanes are part of a $98 million road project in the east metro that includes pavement improvements between Little Canada Road and Maryland Avenue, the replacement of the Arlington, Wheelock and Larpenteur bridges, as well as the I-35E bridge spanning Roselawn Avenue, County Road B and Hwy. 36. Construction continues on the broader project.
Other high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes are also available along Interstate 394 in the west metro, and on I-35W between downtown Minneapolis and Burnsville. The idea is to get drivers to and from their destinations faster by keeping traffic flowing at least at 50 miles an hour, while also creating an incentive to carpool.
Minnesota has about 28,000 MnPass account holders, who pay a deposit of $25 to open an account. A switchable tag that is attached to a vehicle’s windshield costs an additional $15, while just one sticker is free.
HOT prices depend on how many vehicles are using the lane — the more vehicles, the higher the price. MnDOT recently adopted a new algorithm that is intended to improve control of HOT-lane price adjustments.
More information is available at www.mnpass.org.