Texas plan would place tolls on state highways

| Monday, February 02, 2004

The Texas Department of Transportation, under a proposed rule issued Jan. 29, will be able to create toll lanes on any portion of the state highway system if they reduce traffic congestion, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The policy is likely to be applied only to new construction.

Also included in the proposed rules is a provision to allow "exclusive lanes" on multilane highways. These lanes, which could be tolled, could be restricted to certain vehicle classes such as lanes only for trucks.

The action, taken by the Texas Transportation Commission at its monthly meeting in San Antonio, continues the state's movement toward including tolls in future highway projects. Commissioners had directed staff last month to draft the rules, which will now go through a six-week public-comment period before being finalized in March.

The draft rules would also expand the department's authority to enter into agreements with local transportation entities for the operation of toll and high-occupancy vehicle lanes. The state already has such an agreement with the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, which has high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Interstates 10 and 45 and U.S. 59 and 290. Another agreement with the Harris County Toll Road Authority will allow the county to operate four toll lanes on I-10 when it is expanded.