Tolling Agreements Signed for Texas Roads

04.16.2009
Infrastructure Journal

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has signed two agreements under the Express Lanes Demonstration Program (ELDP) for TxDOT to toll the managed lanes it plans to build on the IH-635 and IH-820/SH 183 corridors.

In the last few months, TxDOT conditionally awarded comprehensive development agreements to private entities for the first two DBFOM projects - also known as the IH 635 Managed Lanes Project and the North Tarrant Express.
The ELDP provides an exception to the general rule prohibiting tolling on federal aid highways.

Under the ELDP, states, public authorities or public or private entities designated by a state, may implement and collect tolls on up to 15 facilities (demonstration projects), including interstate highways, that would otherwise be toll-free.

The imposition of tolls must manage high levels of congestion, reduce emissions or finance the expansion of a highway for the purpose of reducing traffic congestion.

The USDOT and the applicant must develop performance goals for each express lanes project and once the authority and applicant agree upon these goals, the USDOT publishes the goals in the Federal Register for public comment.

The USDOT published the goals for these first two projects on 22 January.

In accordance with the North Central Texas Council of Governments' regional managed lanes policy, the comprehensive development agreements for the projects will manage congestion and reduce emissions by establishing an obligation to maintain an average speed of 50mph in the managed lanes.

Even though 13 of the 15 ELDP demonstration project slots are still available, USDOT's authority to enter into tolling agreements under ELDP will expire on 30 September 2009, unless this deadline is extended by Congress.

USDOT has stated that it must receive all applications for ELDP tolling approval by 31 May.

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