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LBJ Express Project Aims To Make Rush Hour Speed By ... For A Price

LBJ TEXpress
The I-635 view from above in February, 2014.

After four years of barricades, orange cones and blinking lights, the LBJ Express project is now officially open.

The new toll lanes, called TEXpress, are being hailed as the answer to congestion on 635. Traffic-weary drivers certainly hope so.

For those who must drive east or west, the LBJ Expressway is a bit of a sore spot.

“Traffic is what I think of as soon as I think of LBJ," says Raul Jimenez.

Jimenez has to drive from Dallas to DFW airport for work almost every day, so he’s been stuck in a 635 gridlock too many times to count. The LBJ Express project is supposed to clear that up.

“I think it helps out, for traffic, if you want to pay the extra dollar that is," says Jimenez.

You could end up paying a dollar, or 50 cents, or several dollars, depending on how many cars are on the road and how far you have to go.

It’s called “congestion management pricing” and it’s based on real-time traffic. You pay as little as 10 cents a mile during light traffic, up to 75 cents a mile at rush hour.

“I think it’s kind of bad that we have to pay to drive on a road. But what are you going to do? If you really got to get somewhere and it’s a quicker option, you’re either going to pay or not going to pay," says Chris Caskie.

Caskie says personally, he’d rather sit in traffic than fork over the extra toll money.

“Nah, I’ll wait," he says. "What’s being a few minutes late?”

The TEXpress toll lanes stretch from Greenville Avenue to Luna Road on 635. On I-35, they run from Northwest Highway to Valwood Parkway.

You get a discount if you have a toll tag or drive a motorcycle or carpool.

And while some drivers would rather idle in gridlock than pony up, others say flying across LBJ at rush hour? Priceless.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.