With Sessions' Support, Regional Transit Officials Lean Toward Plan A: Including Tolled Lanes on LBJ East

ARLINGTON — Bolstered by support in Washington, D.C., regional transportation officials on Thursday rallied again to include tolled lanes among upgrades to the LBJ East freeway project.Gov. Greg Abbott has opposed financing the $1.8 billion project with any use of tolls to repay debt, and his appointees on the Texas Transportation Commission have refused to put the project out for bids until toll-free financing is achieved.All agree that LBJ East — the 10.8 miles of Interstate 635 between Central Expressway and Interstate 30 — is the most needed transportation project in the region, if not the state.U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, weighed in with a letter to Abbott on Tuesday, expressing disappointment in state leaders for working to delay the project."I understand your general opposition to toll roads," Sessions wrote. "However, in this case I fear Texas transportation officials are missing the mark. The key in this case is choice; based on current plans, no one will be forced to pay a toll on this corridor."On Thursday, the Regional Transportation Commission recommitted to a plan it adopted for the freeway last October — five free lanes in each direction, continuous frontage roads and two tolled, managed lanes in each direction. Those lanes are managed in that tolls fluctuate to keep traffic moving, as is the case with several other area freeways, including LBJ west of Central Expressway.The RTC is a collection of local elected leaders responsible for prioritizing and funding North Texas highway projects. Among other members, its chairman, Cedar Hill Mayor Rob Franke, has been in conversation with state commissioners."They want to find a solution to this," Franke said at Thursday's RTC meeting. "We've talked about an approach that was a little bit different because we were at an impasse essentially."  Continue reading...

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