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Drivers soon to have commuting options with managed toll lanes

This story was updated at 1:38 p.m. Tuesday with the addition of the link to toll prices

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Drivers looking to bypass traffic backed up for miles between Denton and Dallas counties during weekday morning and afternoon commutes on Interstate 35E will soon have the option to pay about $5 and travel along managed toll lanes.

Recently, the Texas Transportation Commission approved pricing rates for the new TEXpress toll lanes between Corinth and Dallas. The 18-mile stretch, which is slated to open later this spring, goes from Swisher Road/FM2181 in Corinth to Interstate 635 in Dallas, according to Texas Department of Transportation officials.

There are 14 entrance ramps and 15 exit ramps throughout the 18-mile stretch.

Drivers will have the option to travel the main lanes and frontage roads from I-35E to I-635 for free or pay a toll to use the TEXpress lanes. The first six months there will be scheduled pricing. After the initial six-month period, rates along the corridor will be determined by traffic congestion in the lanes. 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.

On average, motorists with a toll tag traveling southbound the entire stretch of the toll lanes during morning peak hours of 6:30 and 9 a.m. can expect to pay $4.69 for a two-axle vehicle. Weekdays, during the afternoon commute, drivers with two axles traveling northbound during peak hours — 3 to 6:30 p.m. — can expect to pay $4.95 if traveling the entire length of the TEXpress lanes. 

Drivers without a toll tag would pay by mail, which is the posted toll rate plus 50 percent or anywhere between $7 and $7.50 depending on the time of day.

The toll lanes are built in nine segments, with each segment costing a certain amount. This means if a driver takes only a certain amount of segments, that driver would only pay for those segments driven.

"The benefit of the TEXpress lanes is predictable travel," Walzl said. "The lanes can really be used and benefit [the driver] that needs to make it to the airport ... or on time for their child's soccer game."

Walzl said the TEXpress lanes are also beneficial to motorists who opt to take the main lanes because it potentially lightens traffic congestion.

Southbound TEXpress lanes will open from 3 to 11 a.m. weekdays, while northbound lanes will open from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. On weekends, only southbound lanes will open. When there are big events either in Denton or Dallas counties, and TxDOT believes additional capacity on the roadway is needed, TEXpress lanes could open northbound, Walzl said.

Toll tag motorists with two or more persons in their vehicle and motorcycle riders can register for high-occupancy vehicle discounts up to 50 percent during weekday peak hours, at DriveOnTEXpress.com.

TxDOT officials anticipate posting a fact sheet with the toll rates to the entity's website this week, and rates will be available at www.texpresslanes.com prior to the TEXpress lanes opening, Walzl said.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876.

FEATURED PHOTO: Vehicles pass under a road sign Monday near Swisher Road in Corinth that shows the entrance of the Interstate 35E express toll lane that will open later this spring. 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