LBJ Toll Lanes Expanding to the East

Categories: Transportation

1024px-High_Five_Interchange_2009_2.jpg
Andreas Praefcke
Smooth sailing near the High Five, something that's about to be even more of a rarity.

The Dallas City Council's Transportation and Trinity River Corridor Committee was briefed early this afternoon about plans that should make travel on the LBJ Freeway east of Central Expressway just as exasperating as commuting on the western side.

Matthew Craig, an engineer for Halff Associates, the firm charged with shepherding the LBJ East project, updated the committee on his firm's plans for the stretch of the freeway between U.S. 75 and Interstate 30. The primary changes to the road include the conversion of current HOV lanes to mixed-use toll lanes and the creation of continuous frontage roads to match the western half of the LBJ work.

Craig said that the work on the HOV lanes will, eventually, alleviate some traffic issues.

"[Reconfiguring the HOV lanes] will double the amount of capacity for the HOV lanes," he said.

During the first phase of the project, the lanes will remain free for those with at least one passenger in their car. Those traveling alone will now be able to use the lanes as well, as long as they are willing to pay a toll at a rate established by the Texas Department of Transportation.

The project calls for the lanes to be rebuilt over time, beginning in 2015. Once they are finished, drivers carrying passengers will receive a 50 percent discount during rush hour, but pay the same price as single-occupancy vehicles at all other times.

Councilman Sheffie Kadane, a member of the committee, is concerned that by the time construction is finished the increased flow in the HOV lanes won't be enough.

"I know when we did Central Expressway, we were all so happy about it, and then when it was finished, it was outdated," he said.

Kadane was also concerned about the project's mechanism for verifying HOV drivers.

Stephen Endres, an engineer with TxDOT, told the committee that drivers wishing to use the lanes for free or at a discount would have to register their trip with the department at least 15 minutes before they hit the toll lanes and said that officers would monitor them periodically to ensure that those claiming HOV privileges weren't traveling alone.

Regardless of the plan's long-term merits, expect LBJ to be even more of a nightmare for the time being. The first part of the new plan won't be completed until early 2016, at the earliest.

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9 comments
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

"I know when we did Central Expressway, we were all so happy about it, and then when it was finished, it was outdated," he [Dwaine Carraway] said."

Little know fact about the Central Expressway Project:

The Average Daily Traffic Volume on Central Express way prior to the widening project commencing was greater than the design capacity of the widened freeway.  Basically, the average speed during rush hour went from ~5 MPH to ~20 MPH.

WylieH
WylieH

[Stephen Endres, an engineer with TxDOT, told the committee that drivers wishing to use the lanes for free or at a discount would have to register their trip with the department at least 15 minutes before they hit the toll lanes and said that officers would monitor them periodically to ensure that those claiming HOV privileges weren't traveling alone.]

This sounds completely unworkable... law enforcement presence on Dallas highways has been virtually non-existent for years.

Tipster1908
Tipster1908

Just toll it, or keep it free. This verification system will never, ever work.

Anon.
Anon.

@WylieH This article looks like it is reporting on two different, but related, issues that were both discussed at one meeting. What is unclear (and the WFAA report was even more disjointed and confusing) is, was the discussion about the LBJ Express project currently under construction or was the committee discussing the LBJ East project? Or both?


The current LBJ Express managed toll lanes do operate the way this article indicates. It is obviously a congestion pricing model with higher prices when there is more demand for lane space in that part of the facility. But you get a discount if you register your trip ahead of time when your vehicle qualifies as a high occupancy vehicle.


LBJ East will soon have public hearings to do the opposite. There is a proposal on the table to allow tolling of Single Occupancy Vehicles in the HOV lanes on 635 from US75 to IH30. This allows the use of the extra capacity of those lanes that is currently underutilized and hopefully mitigates some of the congestion on that part of 635. 


The LBJ East project is in development and will reportedly retain the existing number of free main lanes, it will have on completion four (two each way) managed toll lanes from US75 to IH30, and also have continuous frontage roads for the entire length of that part of the corridor. The project includes noise walls wherever TxDOT policy requires them.


To Council Member Sheffie's question, that point has been cussed and discussed at the RTC meetings. What will be the monitoring mechanism for verifying compliance with the vehicle occupancy requirements in the managed toll lanes? The current system of registering the trip, with police monitoring compliance, is indeed cumbersome and seemingly unworkable. That's why the existing managed toll lanes currently are in a shakedown phase to identify problems and work out the bugs. Hopefully they get it done right and these lanes work as advertised. Right now I don't see many cars using the lanes. Perhaps the committee ought to ask for a report about the usage of that part of the project to date???

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@WylieH The only place I see any enforcement of freeways, it by the Dallas Sheriffs and on 20 and 30

doublecheese
doublecheese

@Tipster1908 I say just toll it and let whoever wants to use it pay to use it.  The whole HOV system sucks anyway.  I don't think there are many people who carpool for the sake of using it.  I really doubt that it results in any significant reduction in the number of cars on the road.

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