LBJ Express Opens First Segment Overnight Friday, and the TEXpress Lanes Look Like a Doozy

Categories: Transportation

LBJExpressRender.jpg
It's the moment Dallas drivers have been waiting for. After months of being teased by computer-generated flyovers and the prospect of traveling on corridors that came this close to being Davy Crockett Rocket Lanes, the new LBJ Express debuts on at midnight Saturday.

Not the whole $2.7 billion project, mind you, most of which is still under construction; just the three-mile stretch from Preston Road to Greenville Avenue. It will be both a tangible sign that construction will not last forever and the public's first taste of LBJ's tolled TEXpress Lanes.

Those will run parallel to but separate from LBJ's free lanes. The amount drivers are charged will eventually vary based on congestion, with tolls calibrated to ensure that average speeds don't dip below 50 miles per hour, but they will simply vary by time of day
for the first six months.

No TollTag is needed to use the new lanes, though they do provide a discount. Motorcyclists and carpoolers get half off so long as they register their trips beforehand.

See also: Take an Aerial Trip Down the New LBJ

If you've done any highway driving in North Dallas recently, you've probably noticed the LBJ Express signs going up. They're humongous and unwieldy, resembling airport departure boards more than road signs, and look impossibly confusing. Then again, our forebears probably said the same thing about stop signs.

Seiously, though, the system is quite simple, and drivers should be able to successfully decipher each sign in just 4.5 minutes, if this LBJ Express instructional video is any guide:

Whether this makes anyone's commute appreciably less hellish remains to be seen. Managed lanes haven't really been tried before, so predictions about their effectiveness is completely theoretical. At least they won't make things any worse.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.



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31 comments
B1ng
B1ng

Does anyone remember the public hearings or town halls? I remember, very specifically, a representative saying that no tolls could be collected until the project was finished. This, along with only being able to collect tolls until 50 years from the beginning of the contract, was designed to incentivize the project be completed as quickly as possible. They said that the state would be delivered a like-new highway, for free, 50 years after the contract began.

Anon
Anon

Toll road developers are paid every time a vehicle passes through a toll gantry, less fees due the toll collection agency. The toll collection agency is NTTA. The developer is paid even if NTTA cannot collect from the toll road user. NTTA does not want to assume that collection risk, so these contracts are structured so that TxDOT pays when NTTA cannot collect.

These toll roads are subsidized by the taxpayers of the State of Texas. NTTA ought to be on the hook for the unpaid tolls, instead of the taxpayers.

http://www.nctcog.org/trans/committees/rtc/Item_3.rtc121213.pdf

matt.vaughn13
matt.vaughn13

Too bad some GD Light Rail tracks and stations were not installed instead.

Dallas keeps on being decades behind other large cities.

BigBlakNasty
BigBlakNasty

Those 1st payment jumbo loans are due soon gota start rackign in the cash fast as possible

ruddski
ruddski

The speedometer graphic climbs only to 70mph, a glaring error.

Pete_Delkus_Sleeves
Pete_Delkus_Sleeves

Umm, pretty sure airport boards is a way they don't want to be thought of. Dfw paid quite a sum to people who got in wrecks reading them, leading to them taking them down

soopnan
soopnan

What a crock!  The varying tolls are just a money grab.  The theory that the price of the toll would be a deterrent to people who are already sitting in traffic is quite frankly hilarious.  People will move to whichever lanes are moving fastest, and the NTTA will be charging the maximum toll at the busiest time.  Do you honestly think that this pricing system would have ANY effect on traffic on the North Dallas Tollway at 7:00pm?  It wouldn't.  The Express Lanes won't be any different.


Instead of building roads with the objective being maximum utility and minimum congestion, the powers that be have decided on maximizing revenue.  Lowering tolls to entice drivers to use the road when there is no real need and raising them when there is no other choice.  Gee, thanks. 

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Do the people who don't bother to pay the tolls have to pre-register?

DFWconspiracy
DFWconspiracy

Three-phase traffic theory, as developed by Boris Kerner, recommends a fluctuating speed limits to synchronize flow and reduce traffic jams. I for one agree with this claim, however my colleagues in the traffic community consider it too radical. But for too long, current traffic theory has been held hostage by an elite few, imposing their mandates, telling us how to drive and where to go! Today, our highways and "free" ways impose modern-day segregation, isolating the rich and keeping out the poor. Don't even get me started on the corruption inherent to toll roads. Foreign contractors get a cut of our tolls for 50-plus years. The traffic theory community needs to rise up!

dustinmota
dustinmota

What happens when the opposite direction cars come flying into the express lanes. No thanks.

MaxNoDifference
MaxNoDifference

Wouldn't half off a motorcycle make it a powered unicycle?

MaxNoDifference
MaxNoDifference

Deciphering each sign in 4.5 minutes?  That should cause some interesting traffic jams.

kduble
kduble

@B1ng The project will be finished between Greenville and Preston. Besides, a half century from now the road will be obsolete, and people will want to keep the tolls if the alternative is jammed traffic.

kduble
kduble

@matt.vaughn13 That wouldn't address most of the traffic, which is trucks and vehicles passing through. Contemporary thinking is to view LRT as a potential means of moving people around the city rather than a means of reducing traffic.

kduble
kduble

@BigBlakNasty It's either that or higher motor fuels taxes. I tend to think motor fuels taxes are too low in Texas, but only congestion management can address traffic on specific urban routes.

kduble
kduble

@soopnan I predict it will work. People will consider the value of their time and behave accordingly.

JFPO
JFPO

The NTTA can't collect tolls on its existing roads. Are they collecting here or is the Spanish company that built the lanes doing that?

kduble
kduble

@DFWconspiracy While I share your concern about income segregation, and I consider the motor fuels tax a superior means of funding roads, the argument for using tolls to manage congestion is certainly persuasive in populated urban areas. I'd like to see us follow the lead of innovative urban areas elsewhere in the country in discounting vehicles with high mpg ratings. This is improves air quality, and it has a disproportionate benefit to lower-ncome motorists.

2DollaHolla
2DollaHolla

in that case make you you never ever drive on it then

DFWconspiracy
DFWconspiracy

 Or, rather, do away with signs all together. Simplify! The more signs there are, the worse the road design is. A typical rule of thumb. Look at the genius of Hans Monderman. His Drachten Intersection is considered a masterpiece in the traffic community. Through a series of loops, his interesction handles a 20,000 cpd (cars per day) flow with nary a sign! The builders of LBJ would have been wise to listen to him and me when I had my chance!

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Or, 4 exits past the sign you're working on deciphering, you'll realize you should have done something you didn't do.

B1ng
B1ng

We asked for clarification. They said the entire project had to be finished before tolls could be collected.

DFWconspiracy
DFWconspiracy

I'm with you on fluctuating tolls; higher prices at peak hours should encourage some drivers to use arterial roads. Traffic is highly susceptible to small changes. A 20% decrease in cars on the road would end traffic jams. Of course, there's still the issue of corrupt toll practices. What asshole was negotiating when a Spanish contractor got a cut of the tolls for 50 fucking years. I almost think the powers that be want congestion. More congestion means construction contracts to relieve congestion, which creates congestion, which means more construction contracts. And so on...

JFPO
JFPO

There's no money in masterpiece.

kduble
kduble

@DFWconspiracyThe population of North Central Texas has grown by a million per decade since 1960, and is due to grow by 1.5 million during the current decade, so congestion is inevitable.The relevant issue is the state's policy over the past couple of decades of replacing the pay-as-you-go funding source of motor fuels revenue with debt funding, which ultimately costs the public more.

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