It's the moment Dallas drivers have been waiting for. After months of being teased by computer-generated flyovers and the prospect of traveling on corridors that came this close to being Davy Crockett Rocket Lanes, the new LBJ Express debuts on at midnight Saturday.
Not the whole $2.7 billion project, mind you, most of which is still under construction; just the three-mile stretch from Preston Road to Greenville Avenue. It will be both a tangible sign that construction will not last forever and the public's first taste of LBJ's tolled TEXpress Lanes.
Those will run parallel to but separate from LBJ's free lanes. The amount drivers are charged will eventually vary based on congestion, with tolls calibrated to ensure that average speeds don't dip below 50 miles per hour, but they will simply vary by time of day for the first six months.
No TollTag is needed to use the new lanes, though they do provide a discount. Motorcyclists and carpoolers get half off so long as they register their trips beforehand.
See also: Take an Aerial Trip Down the New LBJ
If you've done any highway driving in North Dallas recently, you've probably noticed the LBJ Express signs going up. They're humongous and unwieldy, resembling airport departure boards more than road signs, and look impossibly confusing. Then again, our forebears probably said the same thing about stop signs.
Seiously, though, the system is quite simple, and drivers should be able to successfully decipher each sign in just 4.5 minutes, if this LBJ Express instructional video is any guide:
Whether this makes anyone's commute appreciably less hellish remains to be seen. Managed lanes haven't really been tried before, so predictions about their effectiveness is completely theoretical. At least they won't make things any worse.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.