List of tollways in Texas

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There are approximately 25 current toll roads in the state of Texas.[1] Toll roads are more common in Texas than in many other U.S. states, since the relatively low revenues from the state's gasoline tax limits highway planners' means to fund the construction and operation of highways.[citation needed]

Explanation[edit]

Toll roads, sometimes are seen as a recent addition to travel options for commuters. However, this is not the case. In fact the need for, use of, and discussion of toll roads can be traced back to 1939. According to Richard Weingroff at the Federal Highway Administration:

In the 1939 report to Congress, Toll Roads and Free Roads, the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) rejected the toll option for financing Interstate construction because most Interstate corridors would not generate enough toll revenue to retire the bonds that would be issued to finance them. In part, the report attributed this conclusion to "the traffic-repelling tendency of the proposed toll-road system." Although some corridors had enough traffic to support bond financing, the report predicted that motorists would stay on the parallel toll-free roads to a large extent. That conclusion was called into question when the first segment of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, from Carlisle to Irwin, opened on October 1, 1940. It was an instant financial success. Following World War II, the turnpike's continued success prompted other States to use the same financing method. Each State established a toll authority to issue bonds. Revenue from the bonds provided the funds, up front, to pay for construction. Toll revenue allowed the toll authority to repay bond holders with interest and finance administration, maintenance, and operation of the highway.[2]

The use of this toll system is related to the state of Texas as one might infer. For the state of Texas, and more specifically Central Texas has seen a significant growth in recent years. The United States Census Bureau reports that in 2010 Texas had a population just over 25 million citizens.[3] It is estimated that the population grew over five percent in just three years to nearly 26.5 million people. This growth is great for the state of Texas, but has exposed an area of concern. This area of concern is the infrastructure; specifically the lack of thoroughfares that can effectively move the increased vehicle traffic. An answer that that has been provided to address this concern is the implementation of toll roads. While not a recent phenomena toll road construction is more prevalent now than in recent years.[citation needed]

State-operated toll roads[edit]

Interchange betwen Interstate 35 and State Highway 45

The Toll Operations Division of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) operates the Central Texas Turnpike System (CTTS) as well as other toll roads around the state.

Central Texas Turnpike System[edit]

Central Texas tolls[edit]

The cost of operating and maintaining the roads ways used by commuters is quite costly. Yet, these cost are often not considered when the need for a road strikes the public's mind. To this end (financing), tolls collected help the end be reached. The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is charged with the management and construction of toll ways of toll ways in central Texas. According to the CTRMA's Financial/Investor Information information page, "The Mobility Authority uses innovative financial strategies to expedite the funding of needed transportation projects. Our nationally recognized, award-winning approach is using a mix of toll revenue bonds, government loans, toll equity grants, right-of-way donations and other funding sources to develop a transportation network that will help address the region's growing congestion problems."[4] Detailed earnings and investment statements are available for each road under the CTRMA's authority. Use of funds generated by the commuters in central Texas are explained here, as well. One use/benefit of the toll system is the HERO Program.

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has provided a program to assist disabled drivers. The HERO Program , is a combined effort of "[t]he Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, in partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation, operates the Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) Program—a free roadside assistance program that provides aid to stranded motorists, minimizes traffic congestion and improves highway safety along Interstate 35 in Central Texas... [and] The program is being paid for through a combination of federal and state funds, and it costs roughly $2.3 million a year to provide the service."[5]


TxDOT[edit]

TxDOT established the Grand Parkway Transportation Corporation for the purpose of developing the Grand Parkway toll project, a portion of which is now open.

Regionally-operated toll roads[edit]

Regional tollway authorities are political subdivisions of the state established by two or more counties.

Dallas–Fort Worth[edit]

The North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) operates all toll roads in the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex.

County-operated toll roadss[edit]

County toll road authorities are established by single counties. A county toll road authority is a division of the county in which it is established.

Harris County[edit]

The Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) operates toll roads in Harris County.

Fort Bend County[edit]

The Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority (FBCTRA) operates toll roads in Fort Bend County

Other counties[edit]

The following authorities are established but do not yet operate any toll roads.

Regional mobility authorities[edit]

In 2001 the State Legislature authorized the creation of the Regional Mobility Authorities (RMAs). These authorities are designed as a means for individual or multiple counties to build, operate, and maintain local toll roads or other transportation projects. These authorities are authorized to issue bonds as well as designate local revenue sources to pay for the initial costs of the projects. The primary purpose for creating the RMAs was to reduce the time and bureaucratic "red tape" in the toll road building process.

RMAs in Texas and current toll roads[edit]

Airport toll roads[edit]

The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport operates International Parkway as a toll road.

Privately managed toll roads[edit]

Sections 5 and 6 of State Highway 130 extend from SH 45 to I-10. The highway is owned by the State of Texas and is operated by the SH 130 Concession Company.

Moratorium on Texas toll roads[edit]

Due to the enduring controversy over the future of Texas toll roads, the state legislature overwhelmingly passed a moratorium on all new toll roads in Texas in 2007. The moratorium effectively banned all new proposals for toll roads for two years, until 2009. However, this moratorium was deemed the "Swiss cheese moratorium," as it had a multitude of exemptions placed in it.[6] Specifically, the exemptions allowed almost all the projects in the North Texas/Dallas regions to go forward. The primary concern leading to the moratorium was that the state was hurting taxpayers in the long run by deviating from its tollway authority model and contracting out roads entirely to private companies. Many legislators saw this as problematic, as the primary function of these toll roads would not be to serve the public but to serve as an instrument of profit for private corporations. These companies could raise tolls to whatever the market could bear with little or virtually no public input, and the tolls would continue long after the construction costs were paid for.

TxDOT support[edit]

TxDOT is in favor of the toll roads, claiming that it simply does not have the funds to provide the anticipated service requirements of the Texas populace.[7] Phil Russell, director of TxDOT's Texas Turnpike Authority Division, said in a statement, “We simply can’t continue to rely on the gas tax as our sole source of highway funding. In fact, projections are that the state gas tax would need to be raised 600 percent to meet our transportation needs over the next 25 years. Texans tell us that they want relief from traffic congestion now, not later. Toll roads allow us to build roads sooner.” [8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Batheja, Aman (July 4, 2014). "As Perry Exits, Texas GOP Shifting Away From Toll Roads". Texas Tribune. Retrieved July 8, 2014. 
  2. ^ Weingroff, Richard. "Ask the Rambler: Why Does The Interstate System Include Toll Facilities?". Highway History. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  3. ^ . United States Census Bureau http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/48000.html. Retrieved October 24, 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Financial/Investor Information". Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. Retrieved November 3, 2014. 
  5. ^ "HERO Program". Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. Retrieved October 31, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Perry Signs Legislation to Halt Private Toll Roads". Dallas Morning News. [full citation needed]
  7. ^ "TxDOT Running Out of Cash for New Roads". Dallas Morning News. [full citation needed]
  8. ^ Texas Tollways[dead link]

External links[edit]