Motorists willing to pay tolls and essentially buy their way around congestion can now travel even faster after a state agency raised the speed limit to 75 mph on some Tarrant County toll lanes.
The Texas Department of Transportation recently set the speed limit at 75 mph — up from 70 mph — on toll lanes along Texas 121/183 and Loop 820 in Northeast Tarrant County.
The free main lanes on Texas 121/183 — also known as Airport Freeway — and Loop 820 are now 65 mph, up from 60 mph.
The roads are part of the North Tarrant Express corridor, a 13-mile stretch that underwent a $2.5 billion makeover that lasted for years and was completed in October.
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The private consortium NTE Mobility Partners, led by the U.S. arm of Spain-based Cintra, built the project and provided some capital for the construction. In return, the consortium is keeping the toll revenue collected on the express lanes for 52 years.
The consortium didn’t ask for the higher speed limits, an official said.
“TxDOT told us they were going to do traffic studies in several corridors across the state, and ours happened to be one of them,” said Robert Hinkle, spokesman for NTE Mobility Partners.
The Transportation Department decided to review speed limits in the corridors and conduct a speed test. The conclusion was that the limits should be raised, a spokesman said.
After a major project, it’s not unusual for the agency to visit an area and review whether posted speeds are appropriate, spokesman Tony Hartzel said.
The Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees the Transportation Department, approved the 75-mph limit for toll lanes March 25, but the signs weren’t posted until April 28.
Signs displaying 65 mph for the free lanes were installed May 14, Hartzel said.
The increases surprised Bedford police, who have stepped up speed enforcement on the main lanes and the toll lanes of Texas 121/183 since the project wrapped up in October.
“We’re still seeing speeds in excess of 85 mph,” said Sgt. Mike Hager, traffic supervisor. “If you give people a speed limit, they’re going to go 5 to 10 mph over it.”
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796