Officials break ground on Highway 101 Express Lanes project

Through Silicon Valley, Highway 101 often looks more like a parking lot.

But starting Friday, a new project aims to change that. Officials broke ground on what will become 32 miles of express lanes in both directions. They'll run from State Route 237 in Sunnyvale up to I-380 in San Bruno.

About half will be newly constructed lanes, and half will come from converting existing HOV lanes. Anyone who isn't carpooling three to a car will have to pay to use these express lanes.

James Davis with Caltrans says, "It's based on price demand, meaning the more people that want to go use it, the higher the price is."

The price of the project is about $500-million dollars. And while the bulk of it is coming from SB1 funding, about $53 million is private money coming from the tech sector—places like Facebook and Google.

Doanh Nguyen with Caltrans says, "You know, the business community came to us and said they want to improve their people getting to work."

Senator Jim Beale says, "So we had to do some extra special planning and activities with the private sector and all the government agencies to solve the problem."

They say it was important to think outside the box: That without some kind of action, these long slow commutes will take a toll.

Senator Jerry Hill says, "The economic activity is going to succeed, I think, regardless of what we do. But it's the quality of life for our residents... that's what's important about what we're doing today and starting."

Drivers remain skeptical that express lanes will solve the problem, but they say it's a start.

Driver Mark Kullberg says, "It's a major issue. They have to do something for sure."

The project should be completed by mid-2022.