Toll roads in Texas

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Toll roads
System information
Highway names
InterstatesInterstate X (I-X)
Interstate Highway X (IH-X)
US HighwaysU.S. Highway X (US X)
StateState Highway X (SH X)
Loops:Loop X
Spurs:Spur X
Recreational:Recreational Road X (RE X)
Farm or Ranch
to Market Roads:
Farm to Market Road X (FM X)
Ranch to Market Road X (RM X)
Park Roads:Park Road X (PR X)
System links

There are approximately 25 current toll roads in the state of Texas.[1] Toll roads are more common in Texas than in many other U.S. states, since the relatively low revenues from the state's gasoline tax limits highway planners' means to fund the construction and operation of highways.[2]


Toll roads, sometimes are seen as a recent addition to travel options for commuters. However, this is not the case. In fact the need for, use of, and discussion of toll roads can be traced back to 1939. According to Richard Weingroff at the Federal Highway Administration:

In the 1939 report to Congress, Toll Roads and Free Roads, the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) rejected the toll option for financing Interstate construction because most Interstate corridors would not generate enough toll revenue to retire the bonds that would be issued to finance them. In part, the report attributed this conclusion to "the traffic-repelling tendency of the proposed toll-road system." Although some corridors had enough traffic to support bond financing, the report predicted that motorists would stay on the parallel toll-free roads to a large extent. That conclusion was called into question when the first segment of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, from Carlisle to Irwin, opened on October 1, 1940. It was an instant financial success. Following World War II, the turnpike's continued success prompted other States to use the same financing method. Each State established a toll authority to issue bonds. Revenue from the bonds provided the funds, up front, to pay for construction. Toll revenue allowed the toll authority to repay bond holders with interest and finance administration, maintenance, and operation of the highway.[3]

The use of this toll system is related to the state of Texas as one might infer. For the state of Texas, and more specifically Central Texas has seen a significant growth in recent years. The United States Census Bureau reports that in 2010 Texas had a population just over 25 million citizens.[4] It is estimated that the population grew over five percent in just three years to nearly 26.5 million people. This growth is great for the state of Texas, but has exposed an area of concern. This area of concern is the infrastructure; specifically the lack of thoroughfares that can effectively move the increased vehicle traffic. An answer that that has been provided to address this concern is the implementation of toll roads. While not a recent phenomena toll road construction is more prevalent now than in recent years.

The toll roads in Central Texas are governed through the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA), which is stated to be the creating agency for transportation models to keep up with today's population growth. to promote future road construction which is to alleviate traffic issues within Travis and Williamson Counties[5] Texas is one of few states that has allowed private toll roads.

The idea that toll roads should be privatized, is an idea that stemmed from European models that are evident in Spain, Italy, and England. The European model is called build-operate-transfer (BOT), which is simply a public–private ownership of a roadway (toll road). The idea of a BOT is that a private company will fund, design and construct the planned toll roads and will operate them at the beginning of a project until their contract is fulfilled with a government, in which at the end of the contract the toll road will go under the ownership of...[such] government.[6] Despite the fact for which the CTRMA stands for or wishes to promote, there are many opposers to the expansion of toll roads within Central Texas.


A reason in favor of toll roads mentioned in The Texas Tribune was, "that tolls: are "vital" to the state's future mobility planning as Texas tries to close the gap on road funding shortfall.[7] The article explains how the gas tax (38.4 cents per gallon of gas) has not been increased since 1993 and costs of building roadways has increased throughout time supporting the construction of toll roads.[7]

A reason against one of the Central Texas toll projects is that the company that runs the SH 130 toll road has been said by Moody's business rating to have the possibility of defaulting on its debt in 2014 therefore Moody's lowered the business rating to B1.[8] A B1 classification "indicates that the business is pretty risky to lend money to".[9] The sponsors of the toll road are Zachary (a San Antonio, Texas based company), which sponsored 65%, and Cintra (a company based out of Spain) that sponsored 35%. The lenders to the project: TIFIA program under the Federal Highway Administration which contributed $475 million, and several other banks that funded $686 million.[7][8]

Despite the fact that the partner companies (Cintra and Zachary) are defaulting on debt, the chairman for the SH 130 (130 Toll) Concession Company reiterated that in time the project would, "prove a wise investment as drivers look for an alternative to Interstate 35."[7] Even though traffic volume has been low on SH130 Krier (Chairman for the SH 130 Concession Company) went on to state that the company, " pretty confident that in the long term, this is going to be a huge transportation asset for the region."[7]

TxDOT is in favor of the toll roads, claiming that it simply does not have the funds to provide the anticipated service requirements of the Texas populace.[10] Phil Russell, director of TxDOT's Texas Turnpike Authority Division, said in a statement, “We simply can’t continue to rely on the gas tax as our sole source of highway funding. In fact, projections are that the state gas tax would need to be raised 600 percent to meet our transportation needs over the next 25 years. Texans tell us that they want relief from traffic congestion now, not later. Toll roads allow us to build roads sooner.” [11]

In Texas the backlash against Toll Roads has culminated in several organizations including the Texas Toll Lawsuit website where approximately 10,000 Texans are building a class action lawsuit against the state. Another organization performing similar activities is Texans United for Reform & Freedom. The purpose of these organizations is to combat what they claim as egregious tolling fines and illegal/immoral practices by the toll road authorities.


Due to the enduring controversy over the future of Texas toll roads, the state legislature overwhelmingly passed a moratorium on all new toll roads in Texas in 2007. The moratorium effectively banned all new proposals for toll roads for two years, until 2009. However, this moratorium was deemed the "Swiss cheese moratorium," as it had a multitude of exemptions placed in it.[12] Specifically, the exemptions allowed almost all the projects in the North Texas/Dallas regions to go forward. The primary concern leading to the moratorium was that the state was hurting taxpayers in the long run by deviating from its tollway authority model and contracting out roads entirely to private companies. Many legislators saw this as problematic, as the primary function of these toll roads would not be to serve the public but to serve as an instrument of profit for private corporations. These companies could raise tolls to whatever the market could bear with little or virtually no public input, and the tolls would continue long after the construction costs were paid for.

Operating agencies

State-operated toll roads

Interchange between Interstate 35 and State Highway 45

The Toll Operations Division of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) operates the Central Texas Turnpike System (CTTS) as well as other toll roads around the state. TxDOT established the Grand Parkway Transportation Corporation for the purpose of developing the Grand Parkway toll project, a portion of which is now open.

Regional tollway authorities

Regional tollway authorities are political subdivisions of the state established by two or more counties. The North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) is the only regional tollway authority. NTTA operates all toll roads in the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex. NTTA provides tolling services for the managed lanes in the region, but does not own or operate any managed lanes.

County toll road authorities

County toll road authorities (TRAs) are established by single counties. A county toll road authority is a division of the county in which it is established.

Authority Creation date Notes
Brazoria County Toll Road Authority (BCTRA) 2003 Operates the Brazoria County Expressway in the median of SH 288 within Brazoria County; the toll lanes opened on November 16, 2020, and were free to use until November 30.[13][14]
Chambers County Toll Road Authority (ChCTRA) 20?? Does not yet operate any toll roads
Collin County Toll Road Authority (CoCTRA) 2010 Does not yet operate any toll roads
Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority (FBCTRA) 1996 Operates the Fort Bend Parkway Toll Road and the Fort Bend Westpark Tollway in Fort Bend County.
Fort Bend Grand Parkway Toll Road Authority (FBGPTRA) 2009 Branch of the FBCTRA; created to take over a major two-thirds portion of Segment D of SH 99 (Grand Parkway), located in Fort Bend County, from TxDOT;[15] TxDOT retains operation of the remaining, minor, portion of Segment D located in Fort Bend County.
Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) 1983 Operates the Hardy Toll Road (including the connector to George Bush Intercontinental Airport), Sam Houston Tollway, Westpark Tollway, Fort Bend Toll Road (north of Beltway 8), Katy Managed Lanes in the median of I-10 and the Tomball Tollway within Harris County.
Liberty County Toll Road Authority (LCTRA) 2007 Does not yet operate any toll roads
Montgomery County Toll Road Authority (MCTRA) 2005 Operates the MCTRA 249 Tollway between Harris County line at Spring Creek to F.M. 1774 in Montgomery County.[16] The agency had formerly operated two toll ramps (one from I-45 North to SH 242 West and the other from SH 242 West to I-45 South), with HCTRA collecting the tolls for MCTRA. Tolls were removed on May 28, 2019.[17]
Waller County Transportation Authority (WCTA)
Formerly Waller County Toll Road Authority (WCTRA) [18]
2010 [18]
Does not yet operate any toll roads

Regional mobility authorities

In 2001, the State Legislature authorized the creation of the regional mobility authorities (RMAs). These authorities are designed as a means for individual or multiple counties to build, operate, and maintain local toll roads or other transportation projects. These authorities are authorized to issue bonds as well as designate local revenue sources to pay for the initial costs of the projects. The primary purpose for creating the RMAs was to reduce the time and bureaucratic "red tape" in the toll road building process.

{{#section:Regional mobility authority|list}}

Airport toll roads

The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport operates International Parkway as a toll road.

Privately managed toll roads

Sections 5 and 6 of State Highway 130 extend from SH 45 to I-10. The highway is owned by the State of Texas and is operated by the SH 130 Concession Company.

Motor assistance programs

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has provided a program to assist disabled drivers. The HERO Program, is a combined effort of "the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, in partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation, operates the Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) Program—a free roadside assistance program that provides aid to stranded motorists, minimizes traffic congestion and improves highway safety along Interstate 35 in Central Texas... The program is being paid for through a combination of federal and state funds, and it costs roughly $2.3 million a year to provide the service."[19] The Houston area has a similar Motor Assistance Program (M.A.P.) operated by a partnership with Houston's METRO, Texas Department of Transportation, Harris County Sheriff's Department, Houston Automobile Dealers Association, Verizon Wireless and Houston TranStar[20][21]

Operational costs

The cost of operating and maintaining the roadways used by commuters is quite costly. Not all costs are considered when the need for a road is required in a geographic area. Financing tolls collected help the end be reached. The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is charged with the management and construction of toll ways in central Texas. According to the CTRMA's Financial/Investor Information information page, "The Mobility Authority uses innovative financial strategies to expedite the funding of needed transportation projects. Our nationally recognized, award-winning approach is using a mix of toll revenue bonds, government loans, toll equity grants, right-of-way donations and other funding sources to develop a transportation network that will help address the region's growing congestion problems."[22] Detailed earnings and investment statements are available for each road under the CTRMA's authority. Use of funds generated by the commuters in central Texas are explained here, as well. One use/benefit of the toll system is the HERO Program.


Number Length (mi) Length (km) Southern or western terminus Northern or eastern terminus Formed Removed Notes
Loop 1 Toll 3 4.8 Parmer Lane in Austin SH 45 (toll) in Austin 02006-01-012006 current Operated by CTTP; continues southward as a non-tolled freeway
Loop 1 Express 10.8 17.4 Cesar Chavez Street in Austin Parmer Lane in Austin 02017-01-012017 current Operated by CTRMA

I-10 Toll
12[23] 19 SH 6 in Houston I-610 (West Loop Freeway) in Houston 02009-01-012009[23] current Toll lanes on I-10; operated by HCTRA
I-30 Express 18 29 Center Street in Arlington Sylvan Avenue in Dallas Tolled by NTTA
I-35E Express 19.6 31.5 Loop 12 in Dallas FM 2181 in Lake Dallas 02017-01-012017 current Tolled by NTTA
I-35W Express 10.1 16.3 I-30 US 287 02017-01-012017 current Tolled by NTTA
SH 45 Toll 50 80 02006-01-012006 current Operated by CTTP
Loop 49 Toll 32 51 02006-01-012006 current Operated by NETRMA
71 Toll Lanes 3.9 6.3 Presidential Boulevard SH 130 Toll 02017-01-012017 current Operated by CTRMA
SH 99 Toll 123.00 197.95 01994-01-011994 current Operated by multiple agencies;
TxDOT, who will operate the majority of the tollway; operates Segments E, F-1 and F-2 located in Harris County, Segment G located in Montgomery County and Segment I-2 located in Chambers County;
FBGPTRA operates the major portion of Segment D in Fort Bend County from Fort Bend Westpark Tollway / FM 1093 southward to I-69 / US 59
TxDOT will operate Segments H + I1 when they are completed around 2022-2023.
SH 114 Express Tolled by NTTA
SH 121 Express 6.9 11.1 I-820 in Hurst Murphy Drive in Bedford 02014-01-012014 current Tolled by NTTA
SH 130 Toll 87.6 141.0 I-10 in Seguin I-35 / SH 195 in Georgetown 02006-01-012006 current Owned by CTTP; managed by the State Highway 130 Concession Company, LLC.
SH 183 Express 6.9 11.1 I-820 in Hurst FM 157 in Bedford 02014-01-012014 current Tolled by NTTA
183 Toll Road 6.7 10.8 US 183 in Austin US 183 / SH 71 in Austin 02019-01-012019 current Operated by CTRMA
183A Toll Road 10.7 17.2 US 183/SH 45 (toll)/RM 620 in Cedar Park US 183 in Leander 02007-01-012007 current Operated by CTRMA
SH 242 Toll .14 0.23 0.1 miles (0.16 km) west I-45 0.1 miles (0.16 km) south of SH 242 02015-05-012015 02019-05-012019[24] One-way direct connector ramps from SH 242 westbound to I-45 southbound and I-45 northbound to SH 242 westbound; built by the MCTP, owned and operated by the MCTRA, tolls collected by the HCTRA; opened on May 11, 2015, and were tolled between July 6, 2015 and May 28, 2019, when the Montgomery County Commissioners Court unanimously voted to lift the tolls.
SH 249 Toll 16.7 26.9 Harris County Line at Spring Creek FM 1774 north of Todd Mission 02019-01-012019[25] current Operated by multiple agencies; MCTRA from Spring Creek to FM 1774 in Pinehurst (signed as MCTRA 249 Tollway) and TxDOT from Pinehurst to Todd Mission
SH 255 Toll 02000-01-012000 02017-01-012017[26] Was operated by TxDOT. Removed from toll status by Texas legislature in 2017.
SH 288 Toll 15.0 24.1 County Road 58 in Manvel I-69 / US 59 in Houston 02020-01-012020 current Operated by multiple agencies; BCTRA from County Road 58 to Clear Creek (also known as the Brazoria County Expressway) and TxDOT from Clear Creek to I-69/US 59[14]
290 Toll Road 6.2 10.0 US 183 / US 290 in Austin US 290 / FM 734 in Manor 02013-01-012013 current Toll road portion in the Austin area is operated by CTRMA
SH 360 Toll 9.7 15.6 US 287 in Mansfield Camp Wisdom Road/Sublett Road in Grand Prairie 02018-01-012018 current Operated by NTTA
SH 375 Toll 6.4 10.3 I-10 / US 85 / US 180 in El Paso Oregon Street in downtown El Paso 02019-01-012019 current Operated by CRRMA; toll road is currently free until toll rates are determined.[27]
SH 550 Toll 02009-01-012009 current Operated by CCRMA; portions already co-signed as I-169 as of 2015 and when fully complete the entirety of SH 550 Toll will be replaced by I-169.
I-635 Express 8 13 I-35E in Dallas US 75 in Dallas 02015-01-012015 current Tolled by NTTA
I-820 Express 6.4 10.3 02014-01-012014 current Tolled by NTTA
Addison Airport Toll Tunnel 0.303 0.488 Midway Road in Addison Addison Road in Addison 01999-01-011999 current Operated by NTTA
Chisholm Trail Parkway 02014-01-012014 current Operated by NTTA
D/FW Turnpike Fort Worth Dallas 01957-01-011957 01977-01-011977 Was operated by NTTA (then known as the Texas Turnpike Authority); freeway now signed as Interstate 30, renamed the Tom Landry Highway, and operated by TxDOT
Dallas North Tollway I-35E US 380 01968-01-011968 current Operated by NTTA
Fort Bend Tollway Fort Bend Parkway Toll Road 01988-01-011988 current Operated by HCTRA
Hardy Toll Road I-610 I-45 01988-01-011988 current Operated by HCTRA; Has one spur that leads to Houston Intercontinental Airport
International Parkway 7.5 12.1 SH 183 SH 114 Operated by DFWIA
Lewisville Lake Toll Bridge I-35E FM 720 02009-01-012009 current Operated by NTTA
Mountain Creek Lake Bridge 01979-01-011979 current Operated by NTTA
Pres. George Bush Turnpike I-20 I-30 01998-01-011998 current Operated by NTTA
Sam Houston Tollway 83.128 133.782 Beltway around Houston 01982-01-011982 current Operated by HCTRA
Sam Rayburn Tollway SH 121 US 75 02006-01-012006 current Operated by NTTA
Tomball Tollway 7.2 11.6 North of Spring Cypress Road Montgomery County Line at Spring Creek 02015-01-012015 current Operated by HCTRA
Westpark Tollway Fort Bend Westpark Tollway 02004-01-012004 current Operated by HCTRA


  1. ^ Batheja, Aman (July 4, 2014). "As Perry Exits, Texas GOP Shifting Away from Toll Roads". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  2. ^ Rush, Mike (August 8, 2019). "What the Beep: Why are so many new roads toll roads?". Austin, Texas: KVUE-TV. Retrieved 2023-02-07.
  3. ^ Weingroff, Richard. "Ask the Rambler: Why Does the Interstate System Include Toll Facilities?". Highway History. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  4. ^ "State & County QuickFacts: Texas". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on October 23, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  5. ^ "About the Mobility Authority". Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  6. ^ Poole, Robert. "How Private Toll Roads Work". LexisNexis Academic. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e Batheja, Aman. "State Invites More Toll Roads Amid Signs of Resistance". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  8. ^ a b "SH 130 Sponsors Plan Contingent Equity Draw". LexisNexis Academic. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  9. ^ "Rating Definitions". Moody's. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  10. ^ "TxDOT Running Out of Cash for New Roads". Dallas Morning News.[full citation needed]
  11. ^ Texas Tollways Archived October 18, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Perry Signs Legislation to Halt Private Toll Roads". Dallas Morning News.[full citation needed]
  13. ^ Brazoria County Expressway – The Future of 288
  14. ^ a b Fresh drive: This is what the new 288 toll road looks like for one of the first drivers (KPRC-TV) Published on November 12, 2020, and updated on November 16, 2020 (same-day retrieval)
  15. ^ Sturdivant, Robert Ed (February 29, 2012). Fort Bend Grand Parkway Toll Road Authority Financial Report for the Year Ended September 30, 2011 (PDF) (Report). Fort Bend Grand Parkway Toll Road Authority. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  16. ^ [1] Montgomery County Toll Road Authority (MCTRA) SH 249 Retrieved May 8, 2020
  17. ^ Jules Rogers (May 28, 2019). "Montgomery County Commissioners unanimously remove tolls along Hwy. 242 flyovers". Community Impact Newspaper. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  18. ^ a b Southern, Joe (January 13, 2010). "Toll road group changes name". Your Houston News. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
  19. ^ "HERO Program". Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  20. ^ "Motorist Assistance Program (M.A.P.)". Metropolitan Transit Authority. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  21. ^ "Motorist Assistance Program". Houston TranStar. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  22. ^ "Financial/Investor Information". Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. Retrieved November 3, 2014.
  23. ^ a b Harris County Toll Road Authority. "Toll Road Information: Overview". Harris County Toll Road Authority. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  24. ^ Jules Rogers (May 28, 2019), "Montgomery County Commissioners unanimously remove tolls along Hwy. 242 flyovers", Community Impact Newspaper, retrieved May 30, 2019
  25. ^ Harris County Toll Road Authority - HCTRA System Map
  26. ^ Section 228.201(d)
  27. ^ Border West Expressway - Loop 375 Toll Lanes Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA) (Retrieved 15 August 2020)