A State Senate Committee will work today to try to make it even harder for TxDOT and local toll road authorities to build toll lanes across the state, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.'
Part of the Senate Transportation Committee's interim charge it to hold TxDOT's feet to the fire on a bill that outlaws the converting of existing lanes into toll lanes, unless the switch leaves the same number, or even a greater number of free lanes for motorists.
Anti-toll activist Terri Hall says this is something TxDOT has been itching to do for years.
"This has been a problem since day one on highways like 281," he said. "TxDOT was planning to come in and take every lane that you drive on today without tolls and slap a toll on it, because they could, and to generate revenue."
The Committee will also make sure TxDOT and local regional planning agencies are not using what has been called the 'HOV lane scam.' That's when High Occupancy Vehicle lanes have been built, and a few years later, transportation officials say, 'shucks, not enough people are driving on the HOV lane to make it worthwhile, so we'll just turn it into a toll road.'
A law passed in 2017 'prohibits TxDOT from operating or transferring an HOV lane as a tolled lane.' Hall says the committee needs to look ahead to life without toll roads, because it should be clear by now that Texans don't want toll roads.
"So we need to have a transportation plan that will help big states like ours which will allow us to get our roads fixed, without pushing a controversial new tax."