LBJ's TEXpress Lanes opened overnight Friday, and fears that their fluxuating toll rates would create some type of rift in the space-time continuum proved to be wildly overblown.
The first vehicle -- the guinea pig, if you will -- entered the newly completed corridor, which stretches from Preston Road to Greenville Avenue, at 12:05 a.m. Saturday. Three minutes later, it emerged on the other side, thus avoiding the accidental voyage to a distant galaxy and/or century that some had predicted.
Over the next hour, 332 additional drivers followed suit, each apparently aware they were being charged $.45 for the trip.
"They all came out I think just fine," said LBJ project spokesman Robert Hinkle.
So did the rest of the vehicles that used the TEXpress lanes over the weekend and during rush hour on Monday. Updated numbers weren't available as of noon, though traffic "hasn't been overwhelming."
Hinkle chalks that up to a lack of public awareness and the fact that, with only a quarter of the 13-mile LBJ Express project complete, the benefit for many commuters is small.
"What's going on right now, and what has been going on since the initial opening ... is that our traffic engineers ... are all watching the behavior on the lanes, especially this morning during the peak period." Drivers, he said are "pretty much taking it in stride."
Already, planners have used their observations and early customer feedback to suggest minor tweaks to things like sign placement. They will continue to make changes as monitoring continues.
Not everyone is so sanguine about the TEXpress Lanes' debut. One woman who accidentally drove into the managed lanes emailed the LBJ Express project worrying that she would be publicly shamed as a toll scofflaw since she didn't have a TollTag. (She won't. Her bill will arrive at the address listed on her vehicle's registration.) And some have pointed to the surprisingly high first-hour traffic volume and speculated that maybe a rift has been created, and that some of the Saturday night traffic originated from another dimension.
That could prove harmless. Or it could open the door for a full-scale Dalek invasion. Like Hinkle said, traffic engineers are monitoring the situation closely.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.