TEXpress managed toll lanes on Interstate 35E will open Monday, Texas Department of Transportation officials announced Friday.
A soft opening for the lanes will occur this weekend. From 3 to 11 a.m. Saturday, southbound lanes will open, and northbound lanes will open from 1 p.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday. TxDOT officials say tolls this weekend will apply.
The 18-mile stretch, which includes 14 entrance ramps and 15 exit ramps, goes from Swisher Road/FM2181 in Corinth to Interstate 635 in Dallas.
Beginning Monday, the lanes will open southbound from 3 to 11 a.m. weekdays and all day on weekends. Northbound lanes will be open from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. Weekend hours and direction of traffic could be adjusted for big events either in Denton or Dallas counties, according to TxDOT.
Transportation officials say the lanes are designed to keep traffic moving at 55 mph or faster.
John Polster of Innovative Transportation Solutions, Denton County's transportation consultant, said the managed lanes will add a 50 percent increase in space on the roadway.
Drivers have the option to either use the main lanes and frontage roads from I-35E to I-635 at no charge or pay a toll to use the TEXpress lanes. During peak hours, drivers with a toll tag who are traveling the full length of the managed lanes can expect to pay about $5. Drivers without a toll tag would pay by mail anywhere between $7 and $7.50 depending on the time of day.
There are discounts for toll tag motorists with two or more people in their vehicle and motorcycle riders during weekday peak hours if they activate their high-occupancy-vehicle status. The 50 percent discount can be obtained by registering at DriveOnTEXpress.com.
For the first six months, there will be scheduled pricing for toll lane use. After the initial six months, rates will be determined by traffic congestion in the managed lanes, according to TxDOT. For example, the cost increases as more cars enter the TEXpress lanes, while the rate reduces when traffic is light, said Lisa Walzl, a public information officer with TxDOT.
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876.
FEATURED PHOTO: Vehicles pass under a road sign earlier this month near Swisher Road in Corinth that shows the entrance of the Interstate 35E express toll lane that will open Monday. Commuters can use the toll lane when heading south in the morning, and then north on their return trip in the afternoon and evening. The cost with toll tag for the entire 18-mile stretch of the toll lane would be approximately $5 each way.
For the DRC/Barron Ludlum