An advisory committee on Tuesday recommended a 90-day trial for what would be Orange County's first exclusive car-pool lanes on the Costa Mesa Freeway between the San Diego and Riverside freeways.
The Orange County Transportation Commission will consider the recommendation by the committee, which included representatives of cities along the route. The commission is scheduled to make a decision on Oct. 14.
However, the commission could opt to open the two new freeway lanes to general-purpose traffic, a position supported by two dissenting advisory committee members.
One new lane in each direction is being created on the freeway by restriping and by eliminating much of the median in conjunction with a Caltrans resurfacing project nearing completion.
"The business community feels the test is justified and should have a fair chance to succeed," said Wayne Wedin of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce, which also was represented on the advisory committee.
The advisory group's recommendation calls for the new lanes to be used for 90 days exclusively for car pools and buses, rather than only at peak hours. The California Highway Patrol also recommended the round-the-clock exclusive car pool and bus operation as the safest option, a commission spokesman said.
A car-pool demonstration project on the Artesia Freeway has speeded up travel on all lanes during commuting hours, the spokesman said. Car-pool commuters are moving at "free flow speed," saving eight to 10 minutes on what were once 30-minute trips, according to Caltrans figures.