Ten years ago Texas was emerging as the Promised Land for tolling and public-private partnership highway projects. With strong political support, Texas DOT was tapping the private sector to finance, build, and operate both all-new toll roads and express lanes added to congested freeways.
That was then; this is now. Last fall in his successful run for governor, Greg Abbott and running mate Dan Patrick campaigned for increased highway investment, but with no new toll roads. That position had popular support, according to survey results released last September. The Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Texas Transportation Poll, which found that 64% support increased transportation funding in Texas, also ranked “building more toll roads” as the least desirable of 15 alternative ways of helping “solve transportation issues” in the state. And in the section on funding alternatives to support increased investment, tolling was not even on the list.