Lawmakers moved Tuesday toward capping how many non-carpoolers may use freeway express lanes, creating a new "In God We Trust" license plate and allowing drivers at some unusual new interchanges to turn either right or left on red lights.
The House Transportation Committee voted 6-3 to endorse HB23, which would allow the state to cap how many hybrid and other clean-fuel vehicles with solo drivers may use carpool lanes. Currently, owners of such vehicles may apply for decals to allow them to use those lanes anytime without paying tolls, even if the cars contain only the driver. However, Utah Department of Transportation officials say such cars are becoming so popular that they could eventually swamp the express lanes, so they want the ability to cap numbers if needed.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, noted that the state would face federal sanctions if the average speed in express lanes ever falls below 45 miles per hour, which UDOT worries could happen if too many clean-fuel cars are allowed there.