The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is considering eliminating tolls entirely, the agency’s new Executive Director James Bass said.
The Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M determine that the state of Texas would need a $5 billion increase in annual transportation funding in order to ease the traffic congestion problems throughout the state. That calculation, however, takes into account current tolls charged on Texas roads.
Even with dropping oil prices, Bass said that the state is on track to add $5 billion to its infrastructure budget by 2020.
However, lawmakers including chairman of the House Transportation committee and state Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, is pushing for the state to do away with all tolls.
Two constitutional amendments made by Pickett would bring in more than $4 billion a year by 2020, and they stipulate that none of it can be used for toll roads.
Picket also wants to eliminate toll lanes on the César Chávez Border Highway and last year sponsored House Bill 2612, which requires TxDOT to find out what debt the state has for toll projects and to come up with a plan to eliminate tolls.
Bass is not completely behind the move to eliminate all tolls in the state and believes it would cost Texas a lot of money. “Tolls have been part of transportation in Texas for coming on 60 years,” he said.