By Tim Ciesco| Tuesday, Mar 11, 2014 | Updated 7:31 PM CDT
The Texas Department of Transportation is moving forward with plans to make a portion of state Highway 360 a toll road. The toll road would stretch from Sublett Road in Arlington to U.S. 287 near Mansfield.
Mansfield resident Elizabeth Rizzo has no problems taking SH 360 during the afternoons so she and her daughter can get frozen yogurt. During the morning and evening commutes, though, she goes out of her way to avoid it.
“Down here, it backs up tremendously,” said Rizzo. “The stop lights, the way it splits into access roads – it creates a terrible backup.”
The Texas Department of Transportation said SH 360 is one of the top 20 most congested roads in the state. TxDOT wants to make a 10-mile stretch of it, south of Interstate 20, into a toll road.
Specifically, TxDOT plans to build two new toll lanes in each direction from Sublett Road / Camp Wisdom Road to East Broad Street – and one new toll lane in each direction from East Broad Street to U.S. 287.
“There’s a section of this roadway that has more than 90,000 cars on it every day,” said Lisa Walzl, a spokesperson for TxDOT. “We believe this project will ease that congestion and improve safety in the region.”
The agency recently approved a deal with the North Texas Tollway Authority to move forward with the $300 million project. TxDOT will cover the costs up front and oversee construction of the toll roads. Then, the NTTA will operate the road and use the tolls it collects to pay back TxDOT.
The existing lanes of 360 through that area will remain where they are and become frontage roads. Drivers won’t have to pay to use the frontage roads – but TxDOT officials say between the traffic lights and other delays people may encounter on them, they’re confident drivers will use the toll roads.
“We believe there is enough demand for this project,” said Walzl.
Rizzo says she looks forward to using the toll roads – and while she admits not everyone feels the same way she does, she believes there are many people out there who’d rather pay a toll than sit in traffic.
“I commute into Downtown Dallas often and coming home, I know that will be much more convenient for me and several others,” said Rizzo.
TxDOT just released a Request for Qualifications on this project, which is the first step in hiring a contractor.
Walzl said they hope to award a contract for the project by early 2015, then begin construction that fall.