KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Traffic is a nightmare no matter where you go and now Tennessee lawmakers want to help alleviate some of the stress that comes with commuting.

A bill called the Transportation Modernization Act passed the state senate and is now headed to the House. The bill includes “choice lanes” which are lanes designed to reduce traffic congestion.

Drivers could choose pay a fee to use these “choice lanes” which, according to Tennessee Senator Becky Duncan Massey (R-Knoxville), would reduce traffic in existing lanes and allow choice lane users to travel more efficiently during peak traffic times.

Massey said this is an effort to help reduce traffic and increase revenue which will be used to help build and maintain our existing roads.

“You don’t have to drive in it if you don’t want to,” Massey said. “There is a per-mile cost which is 15 to 30 cents a mile maybe depending on the traffic, but it takes 30 percent of the traffic out of the free lanes.”

“A number of states have started doing these manage choice lanes and working with public-private partnerships and what we do is we would have a private partner that would come in and find build and design, maintain and operate choice lanes which would be additional lanes,” she said.

UT’s Center for Transportation Research has been working with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to find out what areas could benefit the most from these lanes.

“In the Knoxville area we see significant congestion from downtown to Farragut,” Center for Transportation Research Director, Dr. Kevin Heaslip said. “Certainly, I think I-40 would be under consideration.”

There are several ways these choice lanes can be built. One way would be to create a lane on top of the existing ones.

“One of the challenges is if you try to expand the interstates outwards, you have to buy land from private owners,” Heaslip said. “So that’s a very long process and can be very costly process. So in some areas, Texas, for example, they’ve chosen to move upward.”

The bill passed the Senate and is being reviewed by the House Finance Committee. It will then go to the House floor.

Massey said if the bill is signed by the Governor, it would take around two years to complete a study on the project. Then it would go to an environmental study for several years.

Construction would start after that, which could take 3 to 4 years, but she said the end result would mean more revenue to help improve and maintain existing roads.

“So I think we’re going to have some short-term pain while we get to long-term benefits but we can’t do anything,” she said.

According to the study done by UT and TDOT in other states that use a similar system, traffic on choice lanes averages around 50 miles per hour during rush hour.

Law enforcement, first responders, and government transit would get to use these choice lanes free of charge, according to the bill.

“The bottom line is, if we don’t do anything, it will continue to get worse,” Massey said.