OK, North Texas. Regional transportation planners have heard your shrill, anti-toll battle cry. They know you will not countenance a speculative private toll road that inexplicably runs from Wylie to Greenville. They also know you also hate those new "managed lane" thingies, which essentially charge drivers for using highway space that used to be free. Your concerns have been noted.
That said, have you really thought through the implications of your free-road libertarianism? Even with the $1.7 billion-per-year voters just gave TxDOT, there still isn't enough money to properly maintain existing roads, much less build new ones. There might be more potholes. Your beloved exurbs may become choked with traffic. And without new highways to fuel a further explosion of generic chain restaurants, will North Texas ever again experience the thrill that is a brand-new TGI Fridays? Planners like the North Central Texas Council of Governments' Michael Morris understand that paying tolls suck, but without them how can Texas possibly sustain its -- HEY LOOK AT THESE AMAZING PRIZES!
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You, yes you, could soon be eligible for gift cards, discounts at local retailers, even cash (!!!) if you habitually use the soon-to-open toll lanes on Tom Landry Freeway, i.e. the section of Interstate 30 between Dallas and Fort Worth. It's part of a pilot program the NCTCOG and the Texas Transportation Institute are preparing to roll out, according to a survey they're pushing. Here's a screenshot of the survey showing the potential incentives they're offering.
The survey also how much pain drivers are willing to tolerate before they'll cough up money for their trip. Pay $5 to get to Arlington in eight minutes or take a free lane and get there in 13? What about $3.50 and nine minutes versus free and 12? The survey runs through November 30, after which the results will be used to develop a pilot program to test how incentives affect the usage of managed lanes in real life. Because, the NCTCOG seems to be saying, if you are too childish to realize that tolls are good and necessary, you probably also have the childlike capacity to forget your outrage as soon as a shiny thing is dangled in front of your face.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.