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Sisolak says no to quick change to HOV lane enforcement

Carpool lane regulations have been in place for over two months and motorists are still honking mad about the 24-hour nature of the system.

Despite that, Gov. Steve Sisolak this week dashed motorists’ hopes of the state changing the round-the-clock enforcement of the high occupancy vehicle lanes any time soon.

“We talked about that this week at the meeting and part of that was our federal funding was contingent upon having 24/7 HOV lanes,” Sisolak told the Review-Journal. “So you just can’t take them away without risking losing that federal funding and we don’t want to do that.”

Twenty-two miles of HOV lanes between Interstate 15 and U.S. Highway 95 were created when Project Neon went live in May, with enforcement beginning in June. Along with the new lanes came new laws governing the use of the carpool lanes, including 24/7 regulating of the lanes.

The most notable of the anti-HOV crowd has been Las Vegas officials, with Councilman Stavros Anthony leading the way.

After vowing to reduce HOV violation tickets to parking tickets and slashing the $250 fine associated with those, the city drafted a letter requesting the Nevada Department of Transportation board eliminate the round-the-clock enforcement.

The city sent the resolution to the transportation board in hopes it would reconsider the 24/7 restrictions, in favor of peak hour enforcement. The original HOV lanes in the Las Vegas Valley on U.S. 95 were policed from 6 a.m.-10 a.m and 2 p.m-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, when they went live a decade ago.

At Monday’s state transportation board meeting, the topic was brought up by NDOT Director Kristina Swallow but no board member commented on the city’s request and the board moved on without acting on the resolution.

Adrienne Packer, NDOT spokeswoman, said the Federal Highway Administration determined it was best to make the HOV lanes 24/7 because of direct-access HOV ramps located on the left side of the freeway.

Because of that, vehicles would be looking to exit on the left while others exited on the right during peak hours and weekends.

“Lane changes would occur in both directions and that could create a dangerous situation,” Packer said.

As far as any changes being made to the system, whether it be allowing hybrid and electric vehicles to utilize the lanes with one occupant or the time frame for enforcement, those won’t come any time soon, Sisolak said.

“We’re hopeful that people will follow the rules, because we want to get some data over the course of a year, two years about how many people are really using them and how effective they are,” he said. “We’ll see what the results of that show.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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