Motorists who act fast have a chance to do something unusual — drive on toll lanes for free.
Drivers who sign up by 11:59 p.m. Friday may drive on the TEXpress lanes at no cost the week of Dec. 1-7. TEXpress lanes are toll lanes that allow motorists to buy their way out of congestion on several area roadways. TEXpress lanes are available on the North Tarrant Express on Loop 820 and Texas 121 in Northeast Tarrant County, the DFW Connector in Grapevine and the LBJ Express in the north Dallas area.
Travelers who don’t wish to use the toll lanes may still use the main toll-free lanes.
“Really, what we’re trying to do is just get folks into the corridor,” said Robert Hinkle, a spokesman for the North Tarrant Express. Hinkle noted that although the $2.5 billion North Tarrant Express project was completed nearly two months ago, motorists have been a bit slow to return to the Loop 820/Texas 121/183 corridor after avoiding it for years because of construction.
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“It’s a different corridor now,” he said, noting that traffic dropped about 25 percent during roughly four years of construction. “We’re just trying to get people to drive those lanes, to see where they get on and off.”
To use the toll lanes for free Dec. 1-7, motorists must first have a TollTag or other electronic device on their vehicle. They may then download a Drive On TEXpress application to their smartphone.
Those who don’t have a smartphone may register on the DriveOnTEXpress.com website.
Participants will also need an email address or mobile phone number, a TollTag or other electronic device number (located on the back of your sticker), a driver license and license plate number. Up to five vehicles may be registered on each account.
Once registration is complete, users may press the green “Discounts” button on the app and the free week will be activated.
Car poolers may also use the app to sign up for use of the TEXpress lanes at a discount.
The promotion is a partnership between the Texas Department of Transportation, which receives funding from the DFW Connector toll lanes, and NTE Mobility Partners, a group of companies that receives toll revenue from the North Tarrant Express. Many of the companies that built the North Tarrant Express, including the U.S. arm of Spanish firm Cintra, will also collect toll revenue on LBJ Express.
But the point of the promotion is to motorists to venture back out into these corridors and experience what it’s like to make a choice between driving on the more crowded main lanes or paying a few dollars for a smoother ride, officials said. The TEXpress lanes are designed to ensure a minimum 50-mph trip for users, even while the adjacent main lanes are clogged and motorists are going 30 mph or less.
This is accomplished by changing the price of the TEXpress lanes to limit traffic on the lanes, more or less ensuring plenty of room for paying customers to travel a minimum 50 mph.
“We want this to be an overall educational experience for the motorists in North Texas,” Belen Marcos of the North Tarrant Express said in an email. “We have these new highway systems with different ways of commuting through major congested corridors in ways that allow all drivers to benefit, and a technology that will keep it cost effective.”