A California bill drafted to facilitate the creation of high-occupancy toll lanes on the State Route 91 freeway in Riverside County cleared its first Assembly committee Monday. The bill has already been approved in the Senate.

The Orange County Transportation Authority currently operates a variable-toll lane on its portion of the 91 freeway. The express lanes were originally built as a public-private partnership, but OCTA bought out the private owners in 2003 to remove what had become a politically unpopular non-compete clause that limited the ability to expand the non-toll lanes on the highway.

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