We’ve Got A Highway Plan, But It’ll Cost You

By Jack Fink, CBS 11 News

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – If you sit in traffic, it shouldn’t surprise you that North Texas is among the most clogged regions of the country.

Now, some local leaders say there’s a new opportunity to widen and unclog some area highways.  But they need to act fast, before a window of opportunity closes.

Amy Weidner says she always gets caught in traffic along I-35E in North Dallas and Denton counties.  “It’s very frustrating – especially if there’s a doctor’s appointment you need to go to and if you have little over in the car, it’s a challenge.”

The state has said it will soon run out of money to expand and build new highways — all while traffic keeps getting worse.

Now, some private companies have expressed an interest in paying for expanding a 28-mile stretch of I-35E between U.S. 380 in Denton and I-635 in Dallas — in exchange for the ability to charge a toll on some of the lanes.

Denton County Commissioners Court Judge Mary Horn says this is the only way to unclog the road… Without state taxpayers footing the bill.  “We’re talking about a $5 Billion project and no one area of Texas is going to get $5 Billion.. That’s just not logical.”

Under what’s called a Managed Lane Project, the tolled lanes would be in the center, and the free lanes, to the right of them.

Horn says this would speed up the highway’s expansion — and if approved, the project could be completed, “in 5-7 years – instead of 30 years.”

That’s how long horn believes it will take if the managed lanes aren’t approved.  But the deals can’t be signed until there’s a change in state law.

Right now, there’s a state deadline of august 31st in which these public-private partnerships have to be approved.  To get these deals done, that deadline has to be extended.

Some area state lawmakers have already filed bills to do just that.  And it’s not just I-35E.  Private firms have expressed interest in similar projects on Highway 183 between Highway 161 and I-35E and on the North Tarrant Express in three segments:  they include Highway 183 between Highway 121 and Highway 161, I-35W between I-30 and Highway 170, and I-820 between Highway 183 and Randol Mill Road.

Some drivers, including Melanie Johnson say they want lawmakers to approve these projects.  “That sounds pretty good. I like the toll roads.. I like the George Bush Turnpike. I like 121… it’s worth the money.”

Weidner though isn’t convinced.  “I don’t know any other interstate highways that are toll ways.”

Parts of I-635 have already been approved to be widened with managed toll lanes.

So is there legislative support to extend the deadline to allow these other highway plans to move forward?  Judge horn believes there is.

  • http://fortworthinsight.com/news/we%e2%80%99ve-got-a-highway-plan-but-it%e2%80%99ll-cost-you/ We’ve Got A Highway Plan, But It’ll Cost You « Fort Worth News Feeds

    […] We’ve Got A Highway Plan, But It’ll Cost You If you sit in traffic, it shouldn’t surprise you that North Texas is among the most clogged regions of the country. Now, some local leaders say there’s a new opportunity to widen and unclog some area highways. But they need to act fast, before a window of opportunity closes. Go to News Source […]

  • April Horton

    what about friggin’ 820 between i-35w and 121(haltom city/north richland hills)??? that’s been a mess for as long as i’ve been living in the area, going back to the 70’s…four lane highway, it’s bad ALL day and some of the night, both ways, not just during rush hour…needs to be an eight lane highway, and NO TOLL LANES!!!

  • http://www.onestopnewsstand.com/dallas/we%e2%80%99ve-got-a-highway-plan-but-it%e2%80%99ll-cost-you We’ve Got A Highway Plan, But It’ll Cost You | One Stop News Stand

    […] So is there legislative support to extend the deadline to allow these other highway plans to move forward?  Judge horn believes there is. CBS Dallas / Fort Worth […]

  • Bob Rachett

    Don’t be STUPID North Texans!!! DO NOT ALLOW MORE TOLL ROADS!!

    The private firms backing these toll road expansions are making a killing and they’re exploiting a traffic problem that should be handled by our state and local governments. Honestly, will all of North Texas become a toll way?? Do we really understand what we’re agreeing to? I say don’t make it easy for them to try to empty our pockets even more. The politicians and law makers supporting this have to be getting something out of this, because this is ridiculous.

  • Monroe White III

    NO ONE in TARRANT county cares if DALLAS county NEVER gets anymore highway improvements that it wants or needs, as long as all of I-35W north of downtown Fort Worth remains a TWO LANE highway, while all of I-35E south of downtown Fort Worth is FOUR OR MORE LANES, all the way to Burleson! I-35W north of downtown Fort Worth NEEDS to be AT LEAST FOUR LANES all the way to Denton NOW, not 30 years from now, or even 3 years from now, because IT NEEDED TO BE THAT WAY 30 YEARS AGO, and Dallas knows it! THEY just don’t CARE, because THEY don’t care at all what Fort Worth needs!

    • wthj77

      most of this article except the part about 35E between 635 and 380 was about TARRANT county if youd pay attention…. and even most of that section of 35 is in DENTON county…. the 635 “improvement” they talk about is a joke….. and itll take 6 years (if not more) to complete… IF EVER…. get over yourself and read the WHOLE article before you slam Dallas County you Tarrant county idiot

  • tmgtap

    ‘Weidner though isn’t convinced. “I don’t know any other interstate highways that are toll ways.”’

    I-10 (Katy Freeway) in west Houston has managed toll lanes in the middle. The free lanes are still 6-8 lanes wide… It is a great improvement from the 3 lane highway it used to be, even for those who never take the tolled lanes.

    • wthj77

      and yet I 10 still has flooding issues…. yea i see that really helps it SO much lol

  • B Ayala

    I have no problem paying for a toll road if it means they are in good shape continually improved and put their profits back into the road….oh wait that’s the NTTA. compare the quality of the dallas north tollway to any non-tolled road in north Texas. The roads are always in good shape, no abandoned cars, courtesy patrol if you need it…Try calling the Dallas or Ft. worth police to an issue on I35 and see how fast they respond, unless you are half dead it will take 2 hours. I’ll pay for the NTTA anyday

  • Texas Technoman

    ‘Weidner though isn’t convinced. “I don’t know any other interstate highways that are toll ways.”’

    Guess he has never been to Kansas. I35 (Kansas Turnpike) is a toll road from the Oklahoma border north. (and it’s a very nice road).

  • Emilie Schultze Everett

    I sill don’t understand why highways can’t be financed the same way I-30 was between Dallas & Ft. Worth. It was a toll until the debt was paid then it was free. Oh wait……… there’s no big profit & bonus for a CEO in that!!

    • wthj77

      perfect example of your statement gone wrong….. Dallas North Tollway – was supposed to be a tollway until its cost to build and complete it were paid off…. keep in mind it was created in the 60s and still to this date is STILL a tollway… why? the same reason why no one with any sense wants anymore tollways in north texas… because once the tollway is created, as long as private companies like the NTTA are in control, instead of state and federal governments as they should be, tollways will never be completely paid off…. and those with a brain know this…. and again…. DNT is a PERFECT Example!

      George Bush Turnpike and the Sam Rayburn Tollway are never going to be returned to the highway system as long as some are making a killing off of them…

      • Emilie Schultze Everett

        No, I”m talking about I-30 between Dallas and Ft. Worth. the way I described it is how it basically happened. I’m not talking about Dallas North Tollway

        THIS is what I’m talking about.


  • wthj77

    of course what would also be an interesting change to the way they update the highways in north texas is if they would quit thinking of the here and now and consider the obvious… the area will continue to grow and the highways, when updated, need to be able to not only handle what is here but what may be soon to come…. the so called “upgrade” of north central expressway when it was finished just before the turn of the 21st century came about 30 years too late because the day it was finally finished, it was apparent nothing had really changed. it still experiences gridlock on a daily basis in both directions… even with the high five “improvement” at 635 and 75…. its still a bottleneck as it was before the interchange was redone. whoever designed the upgrade to both should have thought bigger…. not just because this is texas but obviously the number of vehicles in the area was seriously underestimated on any given day…. that and merging without coming to a complete stop getting on a highway is STILL a foriegn concept to 95 percent of the country – the upgraded part of central expressway taught a lot of people that which was a mistake (although there are metered on ramps on highways in other states still to this day. It was a mistake years ago and its a mistake to this day because it teaches people the WRONG way to get on the highway

  • ted brotherton

    Its just another tax,see how many of our polilical leaders are profiting from these tollroads,you thank these companies are contributing to political campaigns.My opinion these politicans would sell there mother for a dime,it is all about greed and power.What a bunch of crooks.

  • Ray

    This is another example of commenting and not knowing what you are talking about. Weidner needs to do his homework on interstate toll roads!

  • spank69

    Weidner was a driver, regular person, that was interviewed back Jack (Fink), not someone affiliated with TxDot or the Toll Roads … do you really expect her to know every Toll Road in America?

  • rstanderfer

    Raise the gas tax an pay for these roads

  • spanky69

    I agree with many arguments but the fact is, money is not there (ask our Teachers, Policemen and Policewomen, and Firefighters … but don’t ask the local, county, and state, and federal, politicians who continue to pad their pockets while messing everything else up for the rest of us). So, knowing there isn’t the money needed, the only option is Managed Lanes (Toll Roads). Here’s my take …

    1. Using an unbiased, outside, group of people (us taxpayers), calculate fair/reasonable tolls needed to construct new or update existing roads, and then charge those tolls until the original constructions costs are paid off,
    2. Create a “Not for Profit” Management Company that then manages the road(s), collecting only the pre-determined needs (tolls) to maintain the roadways; when expansion is needed, the tolls can be adjusted accordingly
    3. And COLLECT the tolls from those that don’t have Toll Tags; truth be told, if there is any one thing that irritates me about driving the Toll Roads (I drive Bush from Firewheel Mall to 114 every day) it is knowing that there are many, many freeloaders out there that aren’t paying. Part of “managing” the road is collecting the tolls, if people get to an outstanding balance (lets say $200.00) then have DPS or another LEA visit them at their office, or home, and if they can’t pay the balance at that time, arrest them. I know it is harsh, but just like those that anger us because they are getting rich off the roads, those that aren’t paying are robbing the system as well. Once people get wind that collection of tolls is being enforced, they will find alternative ways to work or start acting responsible and pay the monies they owe … heck, there may be enough money in outstanding receivables to build another road in the area.

    And lastly, we cannot hand the roads back to TxDot or the state in general. They have already messed things up with our schools and just about everything else they touch … this needs to be managed by the people (ie you and I), who are unbiased and wish not to profit off the system but create a network of roads that allow everyone to get from Point A to Point B in a safe, efficient manner.

    And yes … I know this is a fairy tale dream but it has to start somewhere. The most powerful group of people in the world are Middle Class Americans. We buy goods and services provided by the rich and made/built by the poor; we keep the rich wealthy, and the poor employed, while funding local, county, state and federal politicians the monies for all of their good times, and lifelong benefits.

  • Doc

    What BS! It was known by 1956 that this area was going to be a megalopolis (sometimes called a megapolis or megaregion). In fact the word was from my weekly reader and we had to know it for a test and Washington to Baltimore, New York City to Boston and Dallas to Fort Worth were the examples.

    Does DFW have mass transit?? Hell no!! Don’t want it. Wouldn’t take it if it were given to you!!

    No one listening. No one’s home. No one cares!!!

    Let’s build another football stadium!

  • Rick McDaniel

    Thus business of making us pay taxes for roads, then charging us to drive on roads, as well, is pure BS.

    Time to say NO, to more toll roads!

    • Texas Technoman

      Not taxes, we will never have to pay more taxes (per the Gubner)…..they are “Fee’s”…….not sure I am smart enough to know the difference….but guess he, in his infinite wisdom, does!

  • Josue Garza

    In my oppionion wouldn’t toll roads in the center of the highway just cause more traffic?

  • ann1938

    I think we have more pressing problems in TX than highways right now. I know the roads are crowded and in bad condition, but the public schools are in a dire ciris and the future of TX students is at stake. We have hundreds of thousands of people here we didn’t have 10 years ago. This has put a severe strain on our resources and our utility systems. When we start having blackouts and brownouts because there isn’t enough electriciy to serve everyone, and we run low on water, what do we plan to do? Dallas just plans to build more hotels and “signature” bridges. I predict we’re looking at a state income tax before long.

  • Andy

    Yeah, more tolls to run. It’s obvious our leaders have their hands in someone elses pockets. It would make far moe sense to build a mass transportation system across the metroplex than to sit here and take 5 years to build a lane that will be ineffective by the time it’s ready to be put into use. Does anyone else not notice this?

  • Wayne


  • Bob

    In the article the one person interview said she did not know of any other Interstate that was tolled — Interstate 44 from Oklahoma City south to Lawton and north from Tulsa to stateline i believe

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