There's a Plan to Add Toll Lanes to I-35 That Nobody's Talking About

Categories: Transportation

35sign.png
U.S. Department of Transportation
Now with more toll lanes -- just like every other freeway in DFW.
For all the talk of adding toll lanes to various portions of U.S. 75 and LBJ, there hasn't been much attention paid to the Texas Department of Transportation's plan to include similar lanes -- referred to as "managed lanes" in plan documents -- along the stretch of I-35 between U.S. 67 and Eighth Street in Dallas.

See also: TxDOT Proposing Converting More HOV Lanes to Toll Lanes, This Time on 75

Currently, that portion of I-35 has four lanes going in each direction and a single, reversible HOV lane. Under TxDOT's Southern Gateway plan, the interstate would be expanded to five dedicated lanes in each direction and a pair of reversible "HOV/Managed" lanes. Additional expansions and HOV to managed lane conversions would occur on I-35 as it runs south to I-20 and U.S. 67 as it runs south to FM 1382 in Cedar Hill.

As featured in previous plans, "HOV/Managed" lanes allow typical HOV traffic and toll paying single-occupancy vehicles at the outset, before transitioning to a completely tolled model for all customers. Depending on the time of day and traffic patterns, HOV users may be eligible for a discounted rate.

The plan for the Southern Gateway has been in the works for over a decade, but is fast approaching some of its milestones. If the current timeline holds, the HOV lane transition could be over as early as the end of this year.

Thus far, there has only been one public meeting to discuss the project. It was held in March, in Duncanville. You can check out TxDOT's 2010 plans for the Southern Gateway -- which haven't changed -- below:

Southern Gateway Plan (2010)


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46 comments
realtalk214
realtalk214

wait ...who knew that Mike Cantrell has CHAIR of the RTC?  This is insane @WylieH 

J_A_
J_A_

Well it was only a matter of time

Anon.
Anon.

I like this trio of transportation topics today. But let's visit about some of these issues.

Michael Morris is likely the most adroit politician, at any level, in the Metroplex, and that is saying something. He plays his board of directors, the Regional Transportation Council, like a virtuoso.

http://www.nctcog.org/trans/committees/rtc/index.asp

Morris regularly gets a room full of local and county level elected officials to voluntarily hand over to him their authority as elected officials. Is is simply amazing to watch. He is an expert planner and hugely effective, no matter what anyone thinks about the outcomes. Love him or hate him, he achieves his objectives. That makes him effective.

As for the managed toll lanes, no one likes paying a toll. No one. State and national elected officials do not like raising taxes. Without more sustainable state and national revenue sources the only alternative is tolls.

Each of the projects mentioned in this piece have a toll component. They also have far more tax supported lanes, usually referred to as "free lanes" than tolled lanes. All of these projects include redesigned facilities that are vast improvements over the older designs. There are aspects of those older designs that in today's world actually kill people. Those design flaws must be fixed.

In order to get these obsolete highways redesigned and reconstructed, given that the state and Federal governments are not going to be fiscally responsible, the only answer is some sort of toll component. Whoever operates the facility, be it TxDOT, a private toll road developer, or NTTA, the only way to get it done is through tolling some or all of the facility. In this case only a small part would be tolled through managed lanes. At a minimum, the existing number of "free lanes" will still be there after the project is completed. Hopefully better placement and design of entrance and exit ramps, as well as frontage roads that remove local traffic from the highway and provide better access, as well as noise walls where needed, will all be included in the project.

Maybe the Observer needs a dedicated transportation writer. Someone who keeps an eye on the agendas of the RTC. It takes a while to learn the jargon and how to understand the complex politics that exist in that room. But the effort would be worthwhile. Their next meeting is this Thursday. The meetings are open to the public, but they are in Arlington, next to Six Flags, so good luck getting there via mass transit.

The current agenda is here:

http://www.nctcog.org/trans/committees/rtc/web.agenda.rtc081414.pdf

It looks interesting. Item number eight seems promising since Mr. Morris is expert at cross pledging future revenues in order to meet legislatively mandated minimum funding thresholds. There are a number of items on this agenda that relate either to toll roads or to managed lanes. This posted agenda looks relatively short. Don't be deceived. The actual packet is extensive, as you can see from the linked items scattered throughout the posted agenda.

No one likes tolls. Well, no one except the investor getting paid.

Don't want to pay the toll? Then tell your state and national senators and representatives to figure out a better transportation funding matrix.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

Thanks for the alert. We got us a protest to assemble outside Vonciel Hill's (Chair of Transportation) door. Her name is all over this topic in Google search.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@Anon.

I think you're right about the Observer needing a dedicated transportation writer.

Incidentally, I think you would make a great one.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@Anon.

I think you're right about the Observer needing a dedicated transportation writer.

Incidentally, I think you would make a great one.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Anon. 

Well, if Li'l Ricky hadn't assigned 1/4 of the state motor fuels tax to education along with other pledges of the state motor fuels tax, then TXDOT just might have some money to build and maintain roads with.

It used to be that 100% of the state motor fuels tax went straight to TXDOT and TXDOT decided how to spend it.  Now the state motor fuels tax goes into the General Fund and TXDOT receives a line item in the biennial budget.

The said thing is that when this diversion started about 10 years ago, the Comptroller warned that this would happen.

How are those "No new taxes" working now?

The main problem that I see is that the tolls are a defacto regional tax.

WylieH
WylieH

@Anon. Maybe I'm missing the part in your post that involved Michael Morris listening to the citizens of Dallas and providing them with a transportation system that serves their needs?

Oh yeah, he doesn't do that.  That is why the City of Dallas urban street network is one of the worst of any major cities in the United States.  Why its roads are maintained to 3rd world standards.  Why many of the 50 year old traffic signals simply stop working during heavy rains.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@Anon. "Without more sustainable state and national revenue sources the only alternative is tolls."   Politicians are to cowardly to raise the gasoline tax and the voting public is now too short sighted to invest in the future.  Get used to more and more toll roads.   


It's amazing that the existing roads were ever built; the public and the politicians must have been better able to understand building for the future back in the day.

Anon.
Anon.

Little Ricky and I agree on very little, but that's one thing he didn't do. That education diversion goes way back.

Anon.
Anon.

I'm sorry if I implied that Morris listens to the public. I apologize. In my opinion Morris listens to very few people indeed.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

@WylieH @Anon.  His job is not to gauge public opinion.  That is the job of his nominal bosses.  I think we give this guy way too much credit.  He is a staff manager for a group mostly filled with suburban leaders.  Guess what?  He supports suburban projects. 

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

@WylieH @Anon.  I think I with a broom scooping up glass in front my condo building's driveway have a bigger impact on Dallas streets than Mr. Morris and his team.  We in Dallas have only one place to blame for our disgraceful streets:  City Hall.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

@Sotiredofitall @Anon.  The highway tax in those days was similar to Social Security fund in early days.  Traffic was growing plus every car was a gas hog.  The road system was behind curve, not old enough for serious maintenance and costs per mile were lower.  Revenues poured in.  Now gas use has tapered down, we have a huge inventory of roads to maintain plus the ones we want to add and construction is very expensive. 


It was not an enlightened Golden Age.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Anon. 

Perhaps, but he did pile on and changed a lot of dedicated taxes to the general fund and didn't spend many of them in order to keep his pledge of no new taxes.

WylieH
WylieH

@MikeWestEast @WylieH @Anon. No.... not true at all.  Michael Morris' perverted form of regionalism has sucked 266,000 jobs out of Dallas County in the last 10 years, eroding the tax base, making it impossible to keep up with maintenance of all of the existing infrastructure he doesn't give a rip about.

At the same time, many of the people who would be most likely to participate in the public process have followed the jobs north (in the case of northern parts of Dallas), or fled to Cedar Hill, Duncanville, etc. to escape South Dallas.


Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@MikeWestEast @Sotiredofitall @Anon. Not an age of enlightenment but and age of practicality.  

"Our state gas tax is 20¢ per gallon. The average driver pays $9.52 a month in state fuel taxes. The monthly net to the highway fund is $7.14 a 

month. This assumes your vehicle gets 21 miles to the gallon and you drive 12,000 miles a year.

There is an additional 18.4¢ a gallon collected by the federal government."


An increased gas tax costs less than the tolls.  The gas tax benefits the entire state but the toll benefits a select few.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@WylieH @MikeWestEast @Anon. what jobs were sucked out, were these jobs that existed in dallas and then left for the burbs or just companies who moved to the area but never existed in Dallas

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

@WylieH @MikeWestEast @Sotiredofitall @Anon. Mine has an almost 40 mile round-trip daily to get to school. That doesn't include getting to practices (even farther away), or driving to work, to friends' and on errands. Half of that driving is on toll roads. Roughly, our annual toll cost is over twice as much as the gas taxes. It's baffling that people are against higher gas taxes.

WylieH
WylieH

@ScottsMerkin @WylieH @MikeWestEast @Anon. These were companies and jobs that existed in Dallas and left.  This is truly a national scandal.  There are 266,000 LESS people working in Dallas County than there were 10 years ago.

The reason no other city in the U.S. is developing in a manner like North Texas is because it is so stupid and wasteful.

dingo
dingo

@WylieH @ScottsMerkin @MikeWestEast @Anon. 

The reason no other city in the U.S. is developing in a manner like North Texas is because DFW is the fastest growing metro area in the country.

There are more than enough willing participants voting by way of their migratory pattern against your opinion of what is best for them.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

@dingo. DFW is NOT the fastest growing metroplex in the county.

WylieH
WylieH

@dingo Are you referring to the 266,000 jobs that moved up north out of Dallas County into the suburbs over the last ten years and the fact that these quarter million people are now forced to engage in long reverse commutes rather they want to or not?

Is that what you are trying to say?

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Sharon_Moreanus in the county?  I think it is the only metroplex in this county, and it's completely filled this county and Tarrant as well, and taken in parts of the surrounding counties, too.


dingo
dingo

@WylieH @dingo 

I was referring to the 1.2m net that moved here over the last ten years and contributed to the growth pattern that you so detest.

Chattering_Monkey
Chattering_Monkey

@WylieH @dingo A little feisty today Wylie, something must have really gotten under your skin.  You are on an epic rant between all these transportation threads today

WylieH
WylieH

@dingo @WylieH We definitely need highways to accommodate the growth, but Morris is overbuilding to accommodate two different things:
1)  Incremental growth; and
2)  Unsustainable sprawl.

This is the problem:  he is using an unbalanced approach.

WylieH
WylieH

@Chattering_Monkey @WylieH @dingo I find lies, duplicity and arrogance to be off-putting. So, yeah, sometimes I feel a need to respond when I see that going on.  Particularly when I think about the half-million people's lives that have been needlessly disrupted and harmed through poor, discredited urban planning models.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@WylieH @dingo Define unsustainable sprawl, if you would.  And, if possible, use concrete, proven economics to define it.

The urbanist theories are just that, theories.  I agree that too much sprawl is not a good thing, I like wide open spaces with few people mucking them up too much.  I just think 'unsustainable' is applied too liberally these days, with very little credible data backing it up.

Chattering_Monkey
Chattering_Monkey

@WylieH Fair enough,  It just seemed that you were fairly peeved today and on a rant more so than your normal very educational and well thought and written posts

Anon.
Anon.

@RTGolden1

Cities exist to provide municipal services. It simply costs more to provide the extensive laundry list of municipal services to single family neighborhoods than it does to the same number of people living in high quality higher density developments. Water lines, sewer lines, trash pick up, police, fire, streets, and all the other municipal services are far more expensive under the convention suburban model.

WylieH
WylieH

@Chattering_Monkey @WylieH Fairly exhausted today... lot's going on.  But the more I look into NCTCOG and its tremendously negative impact on the City of Dallas and Dallas County, the more baffled I become.

This quarter of a million real job loss is a very, very big deal.  We have to get people focused on it before it becomes too late.

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