I-15 Express Lanes

The I-15 Express Lanes provide 20 miles of flexible travel between State Route 78 in Escondido and State Route 163 in San Diego to relieve congestion and keep travel times reliable. Get on your way in the I-15 Express Lanes. You have choices! 511sd.com/ExpressLanes 

The Express Lanes are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. High occupancy vehicles (HOVs), like carpools and vanpools, can use the Express Lanes for free - all day, every day. Transit vehicles, permitted clean air vehicles, and motorcycles can also use the lanes for free. Solo drivers can get FasTrak online or at Costco to use the Express Lanes. The toll is automatically deducted from a prepaid FasTrak account based on trip length and traffic in the lanes.

Project Features 

Designs and features of this innovative freeway system include:

• Concrete barriers separate the Express Lanes from the main lanes for 16 miles between SR 163 and Via Rancho Parkway and create a true expressway. Double yellow or white lines separate Express Lanes from main lanes. It’s against the law to cross the solid double lines of a carpool lane and violators may be ticketed.

• A moveable median barrier allows the number of Express Lanes to increase or decrease to help traffic flow during peak travel periods or in the event of traffic accidents and other incidents. The barrier is moved Monday through Thursday mornings so three southbound lanes provide congestion relief for rush hour commuters.

• Intermediate access points provide direct access from the main lanes to the Express Lanes approximately every two to three miles to make it simple to enter and exit the system.

• Direct Access Ramps (DARs) allow immediate access to the I-15 Express Lanes for Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Rapid vehicles, carpools and vanpools, permitted clean air vehicles, motorcyclists, and solo drivers using a FasTrak account. The DARs eliminate the need to travel across multiple lanes of traffic to enter and exit the Express Lanes. DARs are located in Escondido at Hale Avenue and Del Lago Boulevard and in the San Diego communities of Rancho Bernardo, Sabre Springs, and Mira Mesa.

Rapid transit service: This high-frequency, limited stop transit system connects communities in the I-15 corridor to regional destinations through upgraded transit stations. Rapid 235 and Rapid Express 280 and 290 began services in June 2014. Rapid 237 service began in October 2014.


The total cost for the freeway improvements, including expansion of FasTrak and the transit elements of the I-15 Express Lanes, was $1.4 billion. Funding for these improvements came from TransNet, the half-cent sales tax for transportation projects approved by San Diego County voters in 2004, and other state and federal funds.

Operational Partners

The I-15 Express Lanes FasTrak tolling account system is operated by SANDAG. The Rapid and Rapid Express services are operated by MTS. The I-15 Express Lanes barrier movement system is operated by Caltrans.
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