Your Commute

Possible new name for 360 in Arlington: Texas Ranger Tollway

Progress on construction of a Texas 360 extension can be seen from this recent aerial (Oct. 14, 2016) near Debbie Lane in Arlington. The North Texas Tollway Authority is considering renaming the road Texas Ranger Tollway.
Progress on construction of a Texas 360 extension can be seen from this recent aerial (Oct. 14, 2016) near Debbie Lane in Arlington. The North Texas Tollway Authority is considering renaming the road Texas Ranger Tollway. Courtesy Texas Dept. of Transportation

The North Texas Tollway Authority this week will consider renaming a new stretch of Texas 360 the Texas Ranger Tollway, but an official says it has nothing to do with the upcoming election for a new $1 billion ballpark.

“This has to do with history. This has nothing to do with the baseball team,” said tollway authority board member Mojy Haddad, an Arlington architect, explaining that the name would honor the state’s legendary law enforcement unit.

The item is scheduled to be considered Wednesday morning during the tollway board’s regular meeting at its Plano headquarters.

Haddad said two names are up for consideration for the roughly 10-mile stretch of Texas 360 that is under construction from Camp Wisdom Road to U.S. 287, a fledgling area where Arlington, Grand Prairie and Mansfield come together just northwest of Midlothian. That’s far south of Arlington’s entertainment district.

One option is Texas Ranger Tollway, as a tribute to the state’s Texas Rangers law enforcement officers. Another option is to call the road Johnson Station Tollway, in honor of the 1840s settlement that served as a ranger station and trading post in what is today south Arlington.

The $330 million Texas 360 project is actually being built by the Texas Department of Transportation, which typically doesn’t name its highways (although cities are welcome to assign names to state highways within their jurisdiction). But under an unusual funding arrangement, when the transportation department completes the work, the project will be turned over to the tollway authority, which will then operate the road and repay construction costs with toll revenue over about 35 years.

Haddad said he was unconcerned about the timing of the decision just three weeks before the ballpark referendum in Arlington. He did, however, explain that one reason the proposed Texas Ranger Tollway name was kept singular — as opposed to a plural version, such as Texas Rangers Tollway — was to draw a distinction between the name of the road and the baseball club.

The Rangers and Arlington city officials are asking voters on Nov. 8 to approve several measures including a half-cent sales tax to pay up to $500 million of the cost of a new stadium. A WFAA/Star-Telegram poll shows that Arlington voters are evenly split on whether to approve the project, with 42 percent supporting the project and 42 percent opposing it.

Vital corridor

The extension of Texas 360 is considered vital to continued population and job growth in Arlington, Mansfield and Grand Prairie.

The project is on course to be substantially completed by late 2017, said spokesman Keith Bilbrey.

The project includes construction of two toll lanes in each direction. Frontage roads will remain toll-free.

Currently, about 52,000 vehicles per day cram into the Texas 360 corridor, using only the frontage roads while workers build the main lanes in the vast, grassy median.

According to one estimate, up to 174,000 vehicles per day could use the corridor by 2030. That amount of traffic is comparable to what is already experienced on Texas 121/183 “Airport Freeway” in Northeast Tarrant County.

The project includes construction of six intersections including Sublett Road/Camp Wisdom Road, Lynn Creek Parkway, Debbie Lane/Ragland Road, Holland Road, East Broad Street and Heritage Parkway.

Naming reaction

Several Arlington officials reached last week, including Mayor Jeff Williams, declined to comment on any proposed name changes for Texas 360. Williams explained that any naming decision was up to the tollway authority.

Arlington Councilman Robert Rivera said he was unaware of what naming options were being considered by the tollway authority, but said he would favor naming the road in memory of state Sen. Chris Harris, who represented the area and pushed for mobility improvements prior to his death in December.

This report includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.

Gordon Dickson: 817-390-7796, @gdickson