NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Vanderbilt University and Tennessee State University (TSU) are partnering with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to assess whether converting High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes would be beneficial.

Janey Camp, a research associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Vanderbilt, said that previous research indicates that HOV lanes in Nashville are underused during peak commute times. Camp is leading the study focused on critical aspects associated with the implementation, operation, and perception of converting HOV to HOT lanes.

“We can’t continue to build more roads and bigger roads. So I think this is a way to identify what is the most efficient way to move people in this region and do it in a safe manner,” said Camp.

Researchers at Vanderbilt and TSU are working to understand whether this change is feasible. Converting HOV lanes to toll lanes would mean big changes for a state that currently has no toll roads. According to Camp, “We are taking a multifaceted approach to the research. And we just released a public opinion survey and to gather input from the public on preferences — there are legislative implications for this because Tennessee is a no-toll state.”

The data from the study will be put into a sophisticated model called VISM at TSU. The model will create different scenarios that will help inform TDOT about what changes will improve traffic flow. 

“Part of the research is the public opinion survey, which will help inform some of the modeling being done at TSU by Dr. Deo Chimba and his team, and they’re using a model called VISM to estimate and run scenarios based on current usage of the general-purpose lanes and HOV lanes.”

Right now, no changes to HOV lanes are in TDOT’s plans, but this study will help inform future decisions