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TxDOT Nixes I-35 Toll Road Plan Following Pressure From State Leaders

Ryan E. Poppe

Plans to add toll lanes to sections of Austin and Dallas roadways have been scrapped. The Texas Transportation Commission removed the two projects, following intense pressure from state leaders.

Interstate 35 in Austin and the 635 Loop in Dallas are considered to be two of the most congested roadways in the state.

Texas Department of Transportation and the state’s Transportation Commission have been looking for alternatives to alleviating that congestion, like adding managed toll lanes.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler told commission members during Thursday’s hearing that I-35 needs to be fixed, and if the only funding for fixing the highway is through toll money, then that is what needs to happen.

“No one likes paying tolls,” he said, “but at the same time, no one likes spending every day stuck in traffic.”

Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick criticized the agency because they said the funds being eyed for the projects would come from voter-approved propositions designed for non-tolled roads.

State Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin said the agency’s Unified Transportation Program will not include these two toll projects.

“We are listening. Our leaders, our governor, lieutenant governor have spoken and they are the ones we take guidance from,” Austin said.

Ultimately, transportation commissioners agreed with Abbott's and Patrick’s assessment and stripped the two toll projects from their 2018 transportation plan.

Ryan Poppe can be reached at rpoppe@tpr.org or on Twitter at @RyanPoppe1

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.