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October 14, 2010

Existing freeways could be tolled

Tx360 Tolls could someday be placed on portions of Texas 360 in south Arlington and Texas 161 in west Irving that are currently free.

The Regional Transportation Council by its own rules is not allowed to put tolls on existing free lanes. In many cases state and federal law prohibits the conversion of free lanes to toll lanes as well.Tx161

But members of the RTC, the Metroplex's federally-recognized official planning body, are weighing whether to go to Austin and ask for permission from state officials to convert a couple miles of freeway into toll roads on Texas 360 south of Interstate 20, and Texas 161 from Texas 183 to the President George Bush Turnpike.

 "Would the public fully understand or would we lose the support we have now, in ... converting free lanes into toll lanes?" said Michael Morris, transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments.Tolltag

Morris wanted to bring the issue up for debate, but cautioned that it may not be wise to ask legislators for permission to increase the use of toll roads in the region at a time when the state is dealing with straining issues such as an $18 billion budget shortfall, immigration and redistricting. One train of thought is to wait until the 2013 legislative session, instead of pushing the idea during the 2011 session that is scheduled to begin in January.

"As a staff person, I am very nervous," Morris said. "Maybe we can hold off on this, and maybe put it into another legislative session. It could be like the Trans Texas Corridor, where once the opposition started you couldn't have a conversation about it."

But Dallas Councilman Ron Natinsky said the idea merits further discussion.

"At some point, I think we need to test the idea with some legislators, and see if it’s going be an idea that will float," Natinsky said. "I think we need to do our homework on that."

On Texas 161, the North Texas Tollway Authority could remove the state of a $74 million commitment to rebuild a two- to three-mile section of the four-lane freeway and expand it to six lanes in exchange for the right to convert the road into a part of the Bush Turnpike, tollway authority executive director Allen Clemson told an RTC committee Thursday. That road is already bumpy -- a stark contrast from the smooth pavement on the adjacent turnpike -- and needs to be rebuilt by 2019, officials said.

On Texas 360, the need is further down the road, maybe 10 years or longer. But the tollway authority also is probing the possibility of converting a two- or three-mile portion of the nontoll road near Southeast Green Oaks Boulevard into a toll road. While that news may be unsettling for residents of south Arlington and Mansfield, the tollway authority is already responsible for planning a southern extension of Texas 360 into the Mansfield area, so the question is really just how far north should the tollway authority's jurisdiction be allowed to reach.

Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796

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Comments

READER1234

Toll Roads should be outlawed. It is a lazy way to tax. I think the city I live in is going to have to fix the road I live on but they are going to make it a toll road so everytime I pull out of my drive way I will have to pay a toll.

Wake up everyone, this is a TAX! More and more roads are getting tolls. Put a stop to the madness.

I will sign a petition to stop any new toll roads in the state of Texas if there is one.

Here is an idea. Everyone stop driving on toll roads for 1 year. They will go bankrupt.

ACitizen

Toll roads are counterproductive. They just channel traffic back onto surface streets and FREEways that are already in dire need of replacement and widening. So then you have to rebuild THOSE streets and FREEways. Eventually we will have thousands of miles of unused toll roads and thousands of miles of broken down cow paths ruining everyones' vehicles.

SHEVAR

Unbelievable... would the public have an issue with it... YES... those roads are built. Tolls are supposed to help build NEW roads, not generate revenue for the state because they are too freaking stupid to figure out how to budget. We have plenty of gasoline tax and federal money.. use it where it's supposed to be used, not paying for someone's mansion while he's waiting for the mansion to be built.

Blinkers


Get rid of all the present road taxes, and then toll tax only new freeways beginning in 2012.Since we've already been forced to pay for unneeded freeways up to now, those should not be tolled. And the companies that build the roads should be American companies and all of the employees should be American citizens. No more illegals.

Ed

Until everybody boycotts all toll roads at any price, then they will continue to build them. If the tolling agency does not receive any money then construction will stop. The Dallas North Tollway subsidizes all of the other toll roads in the area. Use any of the parallel arterial roadways to get to your destination.

If you boycott long enough, the agency will default on the bonds. Then the state could buy back the road for pennies on the dollar.

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