Road operators are often criticized for the bleakness of their roads. You wish they'd plant trees and shrubs and groundcover plants in verges, medians and islands, and encourage more of nature in storm water retention basins and the like.
But do such landscaping and there will be naysayers denouncing it as wasteful and extravagant.
In Miami the RollBackTolls.com group hits the Miami Dade Expressway Authority for the landscaping in its rebuild of the 836 Dolphin Expressway and 874 Don Shula. There they put in 56 towering date palms at a cost of about $8,000 each.
Central Texas RMA has a neat new map of the status of various tollroads in the Austin area. We say neat because it is drawn in minimalist style, attempting to give you the general shape and orientation but omitting the superfluous twists and turns, and all but the most important routes and features.
They use the term "tolled expressway."
TxDOT has four in operation (solid purple):
2013-03-05: Tollways are now being developed on several approaches to Austin Bergstrom Airport. TxDOT has said it will sponsor a short 2 mile tollway outside the Airport in the median of Texas State Highway 71 (TX71) to complete expressway standard connections to the 130 tollroad.
2012-08-30: Central Texas RMA is starting on toll lanes to provide a premium option for motorists traveling north of downtown Austin on the MoPac Expressway. $200m will build a 4th lane each direction for 11 miles between Cesar Chavez Street on the bank of the river downtown up to Parmer Lane where TxDOT's Loop 1 tollroad begins.
There will only be access and egress at each end and at one intermediate interchange - with Tx183 about midway.
75mph speed limit signs should be appearing in early August on the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority's 183A tollroad that leads to the suburbs in the northwest of Austin TX - Cedar Park and Leander.
A new state law allows higher speeds on modern expressway standard highways like 183A. The authority says a speed study determined 75mph as the appropriate speed limit. It was previously 70mph.
Texas' capital and 4th metro area Austin (pop 1.78m) is getting toll express lanes. The project involves 4th laning of 11 miles, 18km the MoPac Expressway (Loop 1), one of two main highways (the other being I-35) north out of Austin's central business district and carrying 180,000 vehicles/day. Probably only in Texas could they find $200m of surplus roads funds and put it into a toll project avoiding the need to borrow a cent.
The Austin Texas Mobility Authority opened a five mile, 8km extension of its TX183A tollroad today (Friday April 6). The extension in the Leander area to the northwest of central Austin involved $105 million construction of a 2x3 lane tolled expressway in a wide median reservation between untolled frontage road lanes that intersect with cross roads at grade.
A major innovation by an Austin Texas start-up company BancPass formed by toll industry veterans will allow motorists to pay tolls by mobile phone. Brandnamed PToll, it serves occasional users of tollroads, people who don't find it worthwhile to establish a transponder account, giving them the convenience of using the highspeed electronic lanes - the open road tolling - without the hassle of a transponder account.
Central Texas RMA are increasing tolls 15% at their Park Street mainline toll point Jan 1. Transponder or TxTag tolls rise from $1.35 to $1.55 while camera-based tolls for non-transponder equipped vehicles - Pay By Mail they call it there - goes from $1.80 to $2.07.
Mike Heiligenstein, executive director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, the Austin area public toll authority writes that Americans need to be more open to a variety of ways of financing and managing highways, including business or private tolling.