HOUSTON -- Drivers in northwest Houston looking to beat the traffic now have a new option: taking the HOV.

METRO s newest HOT lane opened Monday morning on Highway 290. It is the fourth area HOV lane to be converted into what s called a High Occupancy Toll lane, which gives solo drivers the ability to take the HOV during peak times. Access to the lane remains free for vehicles with two more people inside.

Tolls for the 290 HOT will range from $1 to $5 based on time of day, METRO officials say. The 13.5 mile lane currently carries about 7,500 vehicles per day. That s expected to increase to 9,000 with HOT traffic.

Between 6:45 a.m. and 8 a.m. the toll lanes close and the express lane is only available for those who are car pooling. The same thing happens outbound between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Drivers are advised to check the signs before getting on the ramp.

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