New Bill Would Make Texas Toll Roads Free Once They’re Paid Off
Most of us here in the Temple-Killeen area don't deal with toll roads on a daily basis, but as we continue to grow economically and attract more residents, there may come a time when we do. (That day may not come for quite a while, but it's a possibility.) And if you know anyone who commutes to Austin or does a lot of business down that way, they probably like to take the toll road around the chaotic I-35 traffic.
If a new bill introduced to the Texas legislature passes, existing and future toll roads would eventually become public roadways once they're paid for.
House Bill 436, introduced Wednesday by State Representative Matt Shaheen of Plano, would make toll roads part of the state highway system once the cost of constructing them is recouped.
"A toll project becomes a part of the state highway system and the commission shall maintain the project without tolls when the costs of acquisition and construction of the project have been paid," the bill reads. "A toll project entity may not amend a financing or other agreement in a manner that would extend the date by which a toll project would become part of the state highway system."
(By the way, Texas toll roads are already free for veterans meeting certain criteria. More information on that program can be found by clicking here.)
Back in December, KVUE-TV reported that the cost of Austin toll roads would increase (see the video below), so this may be welcome news to some.
Personally, I'm not sure how to feel about it. I've only taken a toll road in Austin twice, and I have to say it was pretty great being able to do 85 MPH on a wide, uncrowded road and skip a good portion of I-35 and other congested roadways. I'm really not qualified to comment on whether that roadway should be made public, especially considering the sinking feeling I get when I think about the speed limit being reduced.
However, I can understand why some people would feel like these roads should have been in place and open to the public years ago, especially if they have to deal with the nightmare that is Austin (or Houston) traffic on a daily basis.
How do you feel about this bill? Should toll roads become part of the state highway system once they're paid off? Vote below, then let us know your thoughts in the comments section.