TxDOT May Change Plans To Place Toll Lanes On Central Expressway

COLLIN COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – A plan to put more toll lanes on a North Texas highway may soon come to a screeching halt.

The Chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission announced they may shift away from putting toll lanes on Central Expressway after Collin County leaders strongly criticized the plan.

The reason: In Collin County, there’s the Dallas North Tollway, the Sam Rayburn Tollway, and the President George Bush Turnpike. All are toll roads.

Now, there’s a plan for tolling part of a fourth highway in the county: If approved by the state, single drivers could use the HOV lane on Central Expressway from LBJ in Dallas north to Allen.

“I don’t agree with that at all. It’s just another way to take money out of our hands,” said Minh ‎Nguyen who just moved to Allen and works in Plano. He isn’t alone.

On Wednesday, Collin County Commissioners Court Judge Keith Self ‎tried to convince the Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees TXDOT, to resist turning the HOV lane into a toll lane. “If you toll Central Expressway, you will have tolled the last free highway in Collin County.”

That prompted a question by commission chairman Ted Houghton to TXDOT’s Dallas director Bill Hale. “We’ve heard from the elected officials, statewide officials, they don’t want this. Why do we continue down this road?”

Hale answered they’re trying to reduce all the congestion on Central Expressway. “Look at how to add capacity in that corridor, adding 1,000 cars an hour at this time.”

Drivers like Ashley Leazure wouldn’t mind paying ‎a toll to drive in the hov lane by herself. “I think it’s a great idea, I would pay for it.” But Judge Self and others say a better way to clear the back-ups, is to put the brakes on the HOV lane altogether. “The only way we can add max capacity to the current right of way is by making that a free lane.”

In the end, the commission chairman seemed receptive to that idea and told Judge Self, “I think we can accomplish what you want to do.”

The Commission will vote on the plan in November.

Follow Jack on Twitter: @cbs11jack

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