Texas lawmakers take a hard look at toll roads

Updated Apr 11, 2016

toll roadsLawmakers in the state of Texas are taking a long, hard look at toll roads, and there has been a push to do away with them altogether. Many are beginning to question whether toll roads are actually being built to ease congestion, which was the original plan, or whether they are just being built to make money for the private investor.

According to WFAA news, state Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso), chair of the Texas House Committee on Transportation, wants answers to those questions.

“Are we proposing a toll road because we’re generating revenues? Are we proposing a toll road because it helps with congestion? Those questions haven’t been asked at the same time before,” Pickett told KVUE news on March 30. “I would like to see us actually remove some, especially if they make no sense monetarily, if they make no sense in safety and congestion. I can prove that today, right now, with some of them.”

RELATED > Texas DOT set to lower truck tolls to help reduce congestion

In 2015, lawmakers ordered the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to figure out how much it would cost to pay off and end tolls. According to the news agency, an early rough estimate indicates that current toll roads would cost the state roughly $30 billion to pay off, and public-private partnerships, in which TxDOT is a party, would cost an additional $10 billion to pay off.

State Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin) tells KVUE that tolls can take a big chunk out of a working-class family’s budget. However, she also warns that the money to move away from tolls would have to be made up elsewhere.