El Paso

State Rep: Toll road revenue in El Paso never exceeded expenses

Border Highway toll lanes never made...

EL PASO, Texas - For the first time in four decades, the Texas Transportation Commission voted to remove a toll from a Texas road and it's right here in El Paso.

The two-way toll lane is on the Cesar Chavez Border Highway, stretching from U.S. 54 to Zaragoza road along Loop 375. It's been around since the beginning of 2014.

Drivers ABC-7 spoke with on that stretch of highway said they rarely, if ever, used it.

"That's great," said El Pasoan Gilbert Alcantar, after exiting Border Highway at Midway Thursday afternoon. "I mean, nobody really used it."

"We never used them so it's a good idea," another driver told ABC-7.

State Rep. Joe Pickett pointed out the toll lane was underused, getting just six percent of the traffic on the road.

Revenues jumped from $117,271 in 2014 to $313,676 in 2015 and $331,363 in 2016.

Expenses were much higher, ranging from $346,298 in 2014 to $496,317 in 2015 and $502,524 in 2016.

"It's a big deal for my community," Pickett told the Texas Transportation Commission. "This toll does not help. We're not going to ever generate enough money to really use for other projects ... We're not going to collect much off that six percent."

The executive director of the Camino Real Regional Authority, Raymond Telles, said the tolls could be gone by mid-August or early September, when TxDOT is scheduled to take over operations and maintenance.

"TxDOT would remove the gantries, signage and striping and we'll remove the cameras and that type of thing," Telles said. "The tolls are still in place today, so if anybody chooses to use that toll facility today, they're responsible for the tolls they incur."

Pickett had this to say to the commission at the end of the meeting: "I believe the last toll that was removed was 1977, so removing one every 40 years is something."

Again, drivers ABC-7 spoke with said they never used them and rarely saw others doing so. While the toll lane on Cesar Chavez is disappearing eventually, El Paso will soon have another one. Portions of the Border West Expressway, which is expected to be completed in the next couple of years, are expected to be tolled.

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