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#1 RD Milhollin

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 09:44 AM

Here is an article posted on the STAR TELEGRAPH blog on the Austin and San Antonio organizations opposed to the Cintra-built and owned Highway 130 that passes between the two cities. Cintra is also very active in the re-construction of I-820 (Wright Freeway) and SH-183 (Airport Freeway) mistakenly called the "North Tarrant Express" (look on a map, it would be better named the Slightly-North-of-Central Tarrant Express).

http://startelegraph.blogspot.com

#2 Lobster Eastside

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 10:07 AM

Just another sellout by pro business politicians/regulators....see also Texas Railroad Commission :angry:

#3 hannerhan

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:45 PM

OK, so to play devil's advocate here...

North Loop 820 is a 4 lane parking lot most of the time. This group came in and was willing to increase the free lanes from 4 to 6 and then they are also putting in some toll lanes (I believe it's 4). In return they receive the tolls, which people can pay if they choose, or not pay if they don't choose. And in the meantime the government keeps the $1+ billion that the project costs.

So you have people who are voluntarily willing to pay lots of money to get somewhere faster, who are paying a private company to do so. The rest of us get the benefit of using a road that is now less crowded, and we don't have to pay a dime. What's the problem again?

#4 Thurman52

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 02:28 PM

I have to say I would prefer it to be a domestic company or the NTTA but, I still think it's a good deal for the tax payer. Rebuilt main lanes, better ramps more room to merge / exit. The jobs related to the construction, plus the RTC gets to keep the upfront cash to pay for projects such as trail extensions, TRE/ Cotton Belt and hundreds of other small projects that would not get funding..

Public/Private Partnerships are good for the area.

On side note I have taken 130 before the new extension, I loved it hate the stop and go traffic of Austin, yea it may have "netted" out more distance but far less frustrating

#5 360texas

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 02:35 PM

Guess we would need to 'follow the money'.

I am not sure how all the funding was acquired

Cintra I think is a Spanish company.
Money being paid to this company [though toll collection] is leaving the US.
Most definately not staying in the DFW area economy.
So all toll roads are constant drain on the local economy for 100 years ?

On the other hand, this road constrution and o&m money is not being spent by Austin.
So instead of spending tax money for roads... who benifits now?

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#6 Electricron

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 10:47 AM

Guess we would need to 'follow the money'.

I am not sure how all the funding was acquired

Cintra I think is a Spanish company.
Money being paid to this company [though toll collection] is leaving the US.
Most definately not staying in the DFW area economy.
So all toll roads are constant drain on the local economy for 100 years ?

On the other hand, this road constrution and o&m money is not being spent by Austin.
So instead of spending tax money for roads... who benifits now?

Centra's contract lasts 50 years or so, not 100 years. The money (capital) Centra uses to build the toll roads comes from Spain (Europe), what's so wrong with the tolls going back to its stockholders or bondholders? I would also prefer to see an American company doing this instead, but they don't exists or aren't competitive with Centra.
I suppose Spain would prefer to see a Spanish company selling hamburgers in Spain as well, but McDonalds is an American company. I suppose Spain would prefer to see a Spanish company making iPhones, but Apple is an American company. We're living in the age of International corporations, we've got to learn to live with them. Not every company in the world is American.

#7 360texas

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 11:10 AM

Thinking - Yes, Centra's contract is for 50 years of collecting toll money from North Texas and other drivers using the toll way system.

Is there any toll collection income revenue sharing with the State of Texas, city, county ?

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#8 JBB

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 11:42 AM

None of those parties have any money invested in the project. Why would they share any of the revenue?

This is a lose-lose proposition all the way around. Everyone (figuratively speaking) wants the roads fixed because traffic sucks, the state has cut their budget to the bone, the gas tax is no longer sufficient to cover new projects and has not been adjusted for inflation, no one wants the blood on their hands needed to fix that, no one wants to pay tolls to get new lanes, no one wants to let a foreign company foot the bill and collect tolls, etc. You get the idea.

#9 mmiller2002

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 12:47 PM

I think that point was that it's too bad a local or US company apparently wasn't competitive with Cintra's proposal.

#10 hannerhan

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 12:53 PM

None of those parties have any money invested in the project. Why would they share any of the revenue?

This is a lose-lose proposition all the way around. Everyone (figuratively speaking) wants the roads fixed because traffic sucks, the state has cut their budget to the bone, the gas tax is no longer sufficient to cover new projects and has not been adjusted for inflation, no one wants the blood on their hands needed to fix that, no one wants to pay tolls to get new lanes, no one wants to let a foreign company foot the bill and collect tolls, etc. You get the idea.


Except that it's not a "lose" proposition for me or you. Because whether we pay the tolls or not, it's a fact that there will be less traffic on the non-toll lanes due to the improvements. And because I see less traffic with no additional taxes, I call that a win-win.

#11 JBB

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 01:53 PM

Yeah, reasonable people like you and me can figure that out. If you follow the comments on Star Telegram articles or NTE's Facebook page, the general concensus is "all they're doing is adding toll lanes". I know that both of those venues are hardly a barometer for measuring the opinions of reasonable people.

#12 RD Milhollin

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Posted 21 June 2014 - 05:26 PM

This FWBJ article states that the private SH130 toll road between Sequin and Georgetown and around Austin is only realizing about a third of projected revenue and will have to renegotiate financial terms:

 

http://fwbusinesspre...inancially.aspx



#13 RD Milhollin

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 12:29 PM

Yeah, reasonable people like you and me can figure that out. If you follow the comments on Star Telegram articles or NTE's Facebook page, the general concensus is "all they're doing is adding toll lanes". I know that both of those venues are hardly a barometer for measuring the opinions of reasonable people.

 

Here is another opportunity to add your opinions about the "North Tarrant Express" and the Chisholm Trail Parkway:

 

http://www.star-tele...cle4424958.html

 

There have been a lot of legitimate opinions pro and con posted here about these road projects and it might be interesting to see them in print in front of a wider audience.



#14 RD Milhollin

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Posted 28 April 2015 - 08:46 PM

Sort of an interim progress report on toll lanes in Tarrant County. Tolls are projected to go up as more people use the lanes. Also, word on a possible reversible toll ramp into and out of downtown between Belknap and Weatherford Streets...

 

http://www.star-tele...le19827912.html



#15 renamerusk

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Posted 29 April 2015 - 08:53 AM

... Also, word on a possible reversible toll ramp into and out of downtown between Belknap and Weatherford Streets...

 

 

Seems a sensible solution for getting traffic into the toll lanes, but one " reversible ramp" may have the potential to be problematic. I am curious to see just how that will work.



#16 Austin55

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Posted 29 April 2015 - 09:00 AM

Perhaps like these median mover machines. This one is on the Golden Gate, Dallas has a few also. 

 

maxresdefault.jpg



#17 RD Milhollin

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Posted 29 April 2015 - 09:04 AM

Perhaps like these median mover machines. This one is on the Golden Gate, Dallas has a few also. 

 

 

 "Zipper"



#18 Doohickie

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Posted 29 April 2015 - 10:36 AM

You know, I really don't have a problem with toll roads, especially where there is a choice to stay on free lanes.  You see market-driven toll road use.

 

As to asking where the benefit is when all the profit is going to Spain, I'll paraphrase what Jungus Jordan said:  At Java with Jungus shortly after the CTP opened he said his drive to city hall took about half the time, and that time is money.  There is value in the time saved.  Also there's benefit to the environment if cars are running at efficient freeway speeds and not caught up in stop-and-go traffic.


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#19 Doohickie

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Posted 29 April 2015 - 10:38 AM

Perhaps like these median mover machines. This one is on the Golden Gate, Dallas has a few also. 

 

maxresdefault.jpg

 

If you set it up right to begin with, that shouldn't be necessary.  You can just have gates at the ramps that open and close between peak times to change the ramp capacities.


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#20 renamerusk

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Posted 29 April 2015 - 12:30 PM

Question -- Are the planned toll lanes to go in one direction during the morning and then in the reverse direction in the afternoon; and what direction will the ramp take on weekends, nights, etc.?  It sounds as though the toll lanes are actually a hybrid of a HOV roadway.

 

BTW, I do like the new set of replacement bridges entering and leaving east of Downtown. I hope that they will not become a victim of new ramp(s) planned for the North Freeway Toll Road.



#21 JBB

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Posted 29 April 2015 - 12:39 PM

The toll lane into downtown is the first reversible toll lane I've heard mentioned in this area. Current and future phases of the NTE, the DFW Connector, and the LBJ Express all have toll lanes going both directions 24/7.

I've said this previously, say what you will about these foreign-backed toll roads, but they don't screw around. Construction on the CTP segment between Summit and University started in the late-fall of 2009 and is still months away from completion. In the meantime, construction on NTE's first 2 phases was started and completed and work on the second 2 phases is well underway. Yay for TXDOT, NTTA, and their boondoggle machine.

#22 hannerhan

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Posted 29 April 2015 - 01:03 PM

True.  The NTE work on 820/183 went remarkably quickly.

 

Also, for those who decry the foreign corporation ownership aspect of the whole thing, it's interesting to note that the Dallas Police & Fire Pension is a major investor in the project.



#23 RD Milhollin

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 09:59 AM

Confusing signage on ramps leading to privately owned toll lanes divert (i.e. trick, lure, etc.) drivers into entering.

 

http://www.star-tele...le67084867.html

 

I am personally glad to see S-T's Gordon Dickson write on this topic. I was tricked the first time I used the newly-reopened Wright/I-820 coming from I-35W heading east and ended up on toll lanes. And contrary to what the "Mobility Partners" have to say, I got a bill for that first inadvertent excursion. The signs for the tollway should not be colored in the same scheme as interstate highways, as they are not interstate highways. The existing scheme I have seen in other places is a shield-shaped sign but GREEN (like $ I suppose) and the word TOLL should be clearly marked. Express is fine as a name for the project but the fact that it costs to use should be plainly marked. The company officials are plainly "misspeaking" when they say that their designers are going "out of their way to ensure that signs are as clear as possible to help unfamiliar motorists navigate traffic."



#24 youngalum

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 02:48 PM

Hard to feel sorry for folks that cannot read a dang sign or follow directions.  It isn't hard if one plans in anticipation for the road they are about to take and not wait till the last second to make a decision.

 

Another rant--get off the phone, stop singing the song on the radio and quit applying make-up, etc as one drives and you might see the signs that one needs to make an informed decision. 



#25 360texas

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 08:42 AM

Have you ever visited Houston and their toll road signs ?  We visited Galveston last December 2015 for our grand daughters graduation from Texas A&M - Galveston.  There are at least two major toll RING roads around Houston south side. The toll ramp lanes are clearly lane marked.  Their night time 2 car lanes wide reflective toll road signs are posted several miles before their on ramps. Houston toll road signs are not like the pictures in the S-T newspaper showing the confusing vertical double stacked Interstate/ Express signs.


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#26 JBB

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 09:02 AM

That's an apples-oranges comparison.  There's a huge difference between dedicated toll roads like the ones in Houston and the express toll lanes that seem to be causing so much confusion.  

 

The confusion baffles me.  At what point does a little bit of common sense come into play?  The express lanes are in the center of the main lanes, so when you come up on these split entrance ramps, wouldn't common sense tell you that the left lane leads to the express lanes, regardless of the "confusing" signage?  That's far from the most important decision drivers will make on any given trip, so I'm starting to worry about being on the road at the same time as some of these drivers.



#27 Doohickie

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 12:08 PM

The problem is they say EXPRESS not TOLL (see photo in attached article).  I can see where people unfamiliar with the area (or even specific interchanges in the area) could be confused by the signage.  I know of at least three other cities where there are non-toll express lanes.

 

http://www.star-tele...le67412877.html


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#28 JBB

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 01:43 PM

Those wayfinding signs don't say "TOLL", yes, but the big white digital signs at all of the entrance ramps that have the toll amounts listed ought to be a pretty good clue.



#29 Doohickie

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 04:47 PM

But depending on traffic, by the time you see those signs you can be locked into the lane.


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#30 hannerhan

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 07:49 AM

All those signs have the orange TollTag logo on them.  You see one of those, you should know you're about to pay up.  Pretty simple.



#31 RD Milhollin

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 11:10 AM

Star-Telegram Editorial Board agreed: The signage on toll lane entrance ramps is confusing:

 

http://www.star-tele...le67412877.html

 

While not the final word on this topic it does show that the observations made by Dickson and others (Dickson, of course being a newspaper employee) carry some weight with a group of educated, intelligent people who sat down to study the situation. Consider for a second that the orange toll-tag logo is not universally recognized as indicating "paid-access ahead" so can be especially confusing to visitors from out-of-town. The big digital signs showing the variable toll amount straddle both access lanes, and again, those unfamiliar with Tarrant road configurations may have no idea that there are toll lanes co-mingled with the interstate, or that those lanes are on the inside of the non-tolled lanes. I don't eat sandwiches, drink coffee, or text while driving but was inadvertently attracted onto a toll lane when the roadway was new; but only once. Another time I was exiting from the free part of SH161 onto westbound SH 183 east of the airport and found the exit ramp blocked due to bridge construction and was forced to take the next exit (about 3/4 mile further on) that charged me a toll. No this wasn't a signage problem but the highway construction team and the tollway authority should have been in communication to assure that the inadvertent detour onto that short stretch of their road was not charged. As hinted in the original article, most complaints made to the toll authority do not result in a waiver of the toll, even under legitimate circumstances; just suck it up.



#32 JBB

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 11:35 AM

Well, a group of educated individuals put together an opinion piece. Argument over?

Whether they know the toll lanes are on the inside lane of the main lanes or not, the entrance ramps are pretty clearly marked with signage and lane markings.

I strongly suspect that most of this confusion and frustration is more of an attitude about tolls than it is about poor signage. Especially when the original article can only manage to rustle up quotes from one person, who admits to being confused about other signage.

#33 Doohickie

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 12:17 PM

All those signs have the orange TollTag logo on them.  You see one of those, you should know you're about to pay up.  Pretty simple.

 

Actually, no they don't.  That's the problem.

 

And even if they did, are out-of-towners going to really know what a T means?  It's a natural assumption, but by no means a universal sign.


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#34 Doohickie

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 12:23 PM

I strongly suspect that most of this confusion and frustration is more of an attitude about tolls than it is about poor signage. Especially when the original article can only manage to rustle up quotes from one person, who admits to being confused about other signage.

 

It's both.  With plate reading technology, you don't even know you're on a toll road until you get the bill a week later.  At least in the old days you would see a toll booth and know you're on a toll road at the time.  I suspect the people who don't like the plate readers are the same ones who abhor red light cameras.

 

Realistically though, if you end up on a toll lane and get charged a few bucks, is it really a life changing event?  Dismiss the injustice of it all and move on with your life, knowing that you learned a lesson.


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