25 Oct 2009, 10:46am
Toll roads:


20 lane toll road?? Not really…

Back at the US 281 Super Street meeting a few months ago, I got into a discussion with a TURF representative about the proposed tollway for 281.  His was adamant that the toll plan would need more lanes than the original toll-free or “gas-tax” plan.  When I pressed him on it, he could not explain why a tolled expressway would need more lanes than a free expressway, only that “it would have to.” 

As it turns-out, one of TURF’s most misleading half-truths is the notion that the tollway proposal for US 281 would be 20 lanes wide, while the “original overpass plan” would only be 10 lanes.  Good job TURF!  You guys have mastered the art of misinformation.

The truth is that both the tollway and “original” toll-free plan would build an expressway with almost identical cross-sections that typically would be 10 to 12 lanes wide.  It is important to understand that this lane count includes the expressway main lanes (three in each direction) and frontage roads (two or three lanes in each direction).  Both plans include extra “auxiliary” lanes on the far southern end to handle the higher traffic volumes there and to facilitate traffic getting onto and off of the elevated connectors for Loop 1604.  This is where the 20 lane figure comes from.  It represents the absolute widest point of the corridor, which is the short section from just north of 1604 to just north of Redland.  The lane count includes the expressway main lanes, frontage roads, and, depending on the exact location, the lanes on the Loop 1604 connectors or the auxiliary lanes for those connectors and two lanes in each direction on a frontage road flyover at Redland, similar the new flyovers on Loop 410’s access road at San Pedro.  By comparison, from the plans I saw, the “original” toll-free plan had 18 lanes at its widest point.  In both cases, those are the absolute widest cross-sections; the majority of both plans would be 10-12 lanes, which represents the total of the expressway and frontage road through lanes throughout the entire corridor.

When I was having that discussion with the guy from TURF, I knew I had seen side-by-side comparisons of both plans that showed this, but I couldn’t remember where.  When I went looking, I found them– on TURF’s own “281overpassesnow.com” website.  Both the toll-free “gas-tax plan” and the “toll plan” cross-sections were exactly the same, except the toll plan showed the new expressway main lanes as being tolled (designated with yellow lanes as I recall.)  When I started writing this blog post and went back to their website to grab those images, I found that both of those diagrams had been inexplicably removed from the site!  I’m guessing someone at TURF realized that they contradicted their assertion that the toll plan was more grandiose than the original toll-free one.  However, TURF did put updated diagrams of the toll plan on their site, which I have downloaded and put together with diagrams from the original plan that I had to dig out of the drawer I keep of local highway memorabilia.  Because of limited space on this site, I have put the plans side-by-side here:


Go see for yourself.


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