Drivers packing the roads during the commute will now be able to access the HOV lane on Interstate 15 without decals, but they will still have to pay. Starting in 2010, the Utah Department of Transportation will implement “electronic tolling” that charges drivers varying fees for using the lane based on traffic congestion. The system will replace the current $50 per month decal that allows single drivers to use the HOV lane, which is always free for carpools and motorcycles. The real benefit to this system is that drivers can see, in simple dollars and cents, the cost of their commute.
Utah’s two U.S. senators have rushed to the defense of Tooele and Box Elder counties, which are facing tighter restrictions on air emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency. The senators claim that the emissions from the two counties do not contribute to Wasatch Front pollution, due in large part to geographic barriers. What they don’t mention is that the two counties, Tooele in particular, have some of the largest polluters in the state and that Tooele-county based MagCorp has long been one of the nation’s worst polluters. For the two senators to use their clout for the benefit of corporate polluters while their constituents are being warned, multiple days each year, to stay inside because of dangerous air stinks almost as badly as the winter inversions.