Thursday, September 07, 2006

Interstate 30: the cost of traveling in the ‘managed toll lane’ on could be as high as six dollars each way.

Commuters Prepare For I-30 'Managed Toll Lane'

Sep 7, 2006

Stephanie LuceroReporting
(CBS 11 News) DALLAS
Copyright 2006

North Texas transportation officials are having a public meeting Thursday night to explain how one of the most traveled freeways in north Texas is about to change. I-30 from downtown Dallas to Arlington is going to be the center of an experiment that could cost you to use it.

Normally during rush hour in north Texas, I-30 is crowded with commuters. In the not-so-distant future transportation officials say they will guarantee that motorists will be able to drive 50 miles an hour on the freeway - if they pay the cost of admission.

The Texas Department of Transportation is building an express lane. Technically - they call it a ‘managed high occupancy vehicle lane’.

When the lane opens, next summer, it will operate as an HOV lane, allowing at least two people in a car to travel for free. Then sometime before 2009 the plan is to turn the lane into a ‘managed toll lane’. After the change motorists will be charged a fixed price to ride - the estimate now is one to two dollars each way.

“Really, to tell you the truth, I think it's a waste of money because I mean people go this way all the time back and forth and to just hike it up just like a toll road, it really makes no sense,” said commuter, Charles Hamilton.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments says by 2009 they will start using a new system called dynamic pricing. Every six minutes a computer will assess congestion and the more traffic - the higher the price for the toll.

Koorosh Olyai, with DART, says at peak times the toll could increase to three dollars, but it will come with a guarantee. “We will maintain a speed limit of 50 miles per hour, (and) guarantee that so if you have paid a price to use the facility, we're going to provide you the service and that's guaranteeing the 50 mile per house speed of travel.”

State and local officials say all of the money from the toll will go back into maintaining and operating the interstate.

Several other U.S. cities are already using 'dynamic pricing', but this would be the first test of its kind in north Texas.

The idea of lanes that charge during peak or congested hours doesn’t sit well with some north Texans. Commuter David Hanschen told CBS 11 News, “I understand the price goes up depending on the density of traffic. In my opinion, I think that creates an elitist solution to a problem that doesn't really solve the problem of too many cars on the road.”

Transportation officials say the more people who use the ‘managed toll lane’, the higher the cost of the toll.

There is another concern for commuters - if traffic conditions worsen over the years, transportation officials say the cost of traveling in the ‘managed toll lane’ on I-30 could be as high as six dollars each way.

(CBS 11 News)

© 2006 The Associated Press: