Could HOT lanes be coming to Arizona?

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PHOENIX -- Come early next year, the Arizona Department of Transportation is launching program that will encourage private investors to put up funds to help improve the state's freeways. The program falls under new state law that allows for public-private partnerships for transportation projects, and while the P3 program isn't even up and running yet, people are already talking about some possibilities, including HOT lanes.

Proponents see HOT lanes -- high-occupancy toll lanes -- as a way to both ease rush hour congestion and bring in some money. The lanes, which are basically converted HOV lanes, would allow single drivers to pay a toll to use the carpool lane during rush hour.

HOT lanes are already being used in eight cities throughout the country, and seem to be successful. Drivers pay anywhere between $2 and $9, depending on the amount of traffic.

While there's no formal proposal regarding HOT lanes at this point, some believe they could be put into use as early as next year.

ADOT, however, is taking a neutral stance on HOT lanes, as it will with other proposals that come in under the P3 program.

"With any proposal that comes in, public support is going to be one of the key factors," said ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel.