Wednesday, October 9, 2013

CRRMA Readies for Opening of Toll Lanes

Drivers Can Use Border Highway Lanes in December

After years of construction, El Paso drivers will get to choose whether or not to use “managed” toll lanes on the Cesar Chavez Border Highway in December when construction is expected to be complete. And now the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA) is preparing to educate the public about how the toll program will work.
The "managed" toll lane will be the innermost lane in each direction. Rates per mile will vary based on congestion and the time of day. (CRRMA)

The CRRMA board will review a presentation on the Cesar Chavez Managed Lanes Project at its meeting this week that will include details on the toll collection process and the marketing outreach that will roll out in the coming months.

Drivers on the nine mile stretch of the Border Highway between US-54 and the Zaragoza Port of Entry will still have two free lanes to use, while the additional toll lane will be the left-most lane in each direction. 

Pricing for use of the toll lanes will vary based on the time of day, starting at a base rate of $0.10 per mile. The minimum toll for any trip will be $0.40. Large trucks and trailers will be unable to use the toll lanes, while emergency and public transit vehicles will be exempt from tolls.

There will be two tolling points in each direction, between Midway Drive and Yarbrough Drive, and between Yarbrough and Padres Drive. Entrance and exit points will favor drivers taking longer trips with only two exits from the toll lane for eastbound travelers, one before Yarbrough Drive and another before the Zaragoza Port of Entry. 
This diagram shows where the lane entrances, exits, and tolling points will be located. (CRRMA)

The Border Highway has been widened to accommodate the new toll lanes. There is still a 10-foot inside-shoulder in each direction. The toll lanes will be separated from the free main lanes by a two foot buffer.

Collection of tolls will be an electronic process with no actual payment infrastructure on the highway. Sensors will scan vehicles for a toll tag for those that are registered with a toll service and bill the driver accordingly. Cameras will be used to capture license plate information for non-registered drivers who decide to use the toll lanes. A bill will be sent to the address of the vehicle’s registered owner.

The CRRMA expects to spread the news about the new toll lanes via stories on various news stations, broadcast advertising on television, radio, and billboards, and through “grass roots efforts” involving elected officials and community meetings.

At least two other managed lane projects are in the works. The Americas Managed Lanes Project will continue the Cesar Chavez toll lanes at the eastern terminus from the Zaragoza Port of Entry north to Bob Hope Drive on El Paso’s East Side. And the massive Border Highway West project will create a brand new tolled expressway from Downtown El Paso to the city’s West Side.

The CRRMA will discuss the presentation at its October 9, 2013 meeting. More information can be found at www.crrma.org. 

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