GRAPEVINE — Free rides are over on the DFW Connector’s TEXpress lanes on the 4-mile stretch of Texas 114 that goes through Grapevine.The Texas Transportation Department started charging tolls Monday. The toll lanes start just west of Texas 26 and continue to east of International Parkway.Grapevine police, who patrol that segment, reported no problems, Sgt. Robert Eberling said.Tony Hartzel of the Transportation Department said the first day was smooth, in part because of the test period beginning in April when the toll lanes were used at no charge.“We’re really pleased with the performance so far. The whole goal is to keep traffic moving,” he said. “Having the trial period with zero cost to drivers really helped, let them understand how to get in and out of the lanes.”Managed tolling on TEXpress lanes, which run parallel to main freeway lanes and frontage roads, is designed to keep toll lane traffic flowing at a minimum of 50 mph by raising or lowering the toll according to traffic load. So at peak periods, tolls go up, which discourages use of the toll lanes and keeps traffic flowing through them. The tolls will vary from 67 cents at slower times to $1 during peak periods for the 4-mile stretch during a six-month review period for motorists using a TollTag from the North Texas Tollway Authority, a TxTAG from TxDOT or an EZ-Pass from the Harris County Toll Road Authority.High-occupancy vehicle users pay 50 cents, but drivers who don’t have an electronic tag or use the HOV lanes will pay an additional 50 percent surcharge at first — so those drivers currently pay $1.50. Hartzel said that after three months the surcharge could go up to 75 percent and as high as 90 percent. “The whole concept is to encourage people to get a toll tag,” he said.Michael Rey of the North Texas Tollway Authority said the amount of toll collected Monday, or on any given day, was not immediately available.Tolls could change after the six-month period, a news release from the department said.
Judy Wiley, 817-390-7843 Twitter: @judygwiley