North Texas

Collin County Politicians Push Back Against Toll Roads

Two Collin County politicians have filed bills to ensure freeways stay free forever.

State Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano) and State Rep. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney) filed the "Keep Free Lanes Free Act," which would prohibit the conversion of any free lanes into tolled, managed or express lanes.

According to Taylor’s office, Collin County is the most heavily tolled county in the state.

It is home to portions of the Sam Rayburn, President George Bush and Dallas North tollways.

"Tolls are just a tax by another name. The people's tax dollars funded 'free' lanes to begin with, and converting those lanes into tolls is simply government trying to orchestrate double tax," Taylor said.

"Our taxes have already paid for the roads to be built," said driver I.L. Davis.

For Davis, toll roads are a necessity that take their own toll.

His daily commute from Dallas through Collin County and into Denton County costs an average of $40 per day just in tolls.

"That's a lot of money coming out of my pocket," Davis said. "It adds up quite considerably."

Those are costs that Jodi Nelson, owner of Petals Florist in Plano, has seen rise over the last 16 years they have been in business.

Nelson's shop makes floral deliveries all over North Texas and drives from Plano to Dallas every single day.

"We pay a lot more than we used to in tolls, and there's more tolls around," Nelson said. "You cannot go anywhere without taking a toll – or sitting in traffic if you don’t take a toll way."

According to Sen. Taylor, the average commuter who uses a toll road twice a day in North Texas will pay more than $100,000 in tolls over the course of his or her work life.

"Collin County families could spend that money on buying a home, putting their children through college, or saving for retirement – not subsidizing the transportation needs for the rest of state," Taylor said.

A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation said they have no current plans to convert any free lanes in Collin County into paid lanes.

In 2014, local leaders blocked efforts to convert portions of the HOV lane on U.S. Highway 75 into a paid express lane. The bill, if it passes, would prohibit similar moves in the future.

The North Texas Tollway Authority is currently widening the Dallas North Tollway and plans to do the same to the Sam Rayburn Tollway in 2018.

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