Central Texas TRs to go cashless Jan 1, 2013 - one-off cost $2.3m, saving $8.5m year on-going

September 10, 2012
By Peter Samuel

2012-09-09: The six tollroads in the Austin TX metro area will all be all-electronic be the turn of the year, and  the last cash tolls collected will be collected Dec 31 2012 according to TxDOT plans. Mark Cross, a TxDOT spokesman told us January 1st is the present target date for ending cash toll collection on the remaining three tollroads with cash collection.

By our count there are 52 toll points including seven mainline toll plazas and 45 ramp toll plazas involved in the changeover, which was formally approved at the last monthly meeting of TxDOT's governing Texas Transportation Commission.

The change is on the original Central Texas Turnpike System which comprises three tollroads, Loop-1 MoPac Extension, SH45, and SH130 Segments 1 thru 4.  They total 65 miles of 2x2 and 2x3 lane toll expressway in the northern and eastern portions of the Austin metro area.

Opening 2006 through 2008 the three tollroads were built with open road tolling (ORT) through the middle with cash toll lanes on the right. At all the mainline plazas the number of open road toll (ORT) lanes matches the highway lanes, so the conversion to all-electronic/cashless is mostly a matter of blocking off the cash lanes and changing out a lot of signs. Demolition of booths and islands and rip-up of cash lanes pavement and seeding for grass can be done later.

Paid for in three months

TxDOT tells us they estimate the capital cost of going cashless including decommissioning and barriering-off the cash lanes, and making changes to signage is about $2.3 million. That's a one-off cost.

They'll pay for that in about three months because operating costs are estimated to drop by $8.5m annually.

Cash toll collection is conducted for TxDOT by a private contractor so any layoffs of toll collectors will be by the private company.

Mark Cross for TxDOT says they are "excited" about being able to get rid of cash payment on the road as it will make for quicker, smoother traffic flows, and greater convenience for their patrons.

The work is likely to be done as an extension of existing contracts.

Cash equipment for sale

Cash collection equipment they say will be "removed and designated as surplus property that can be sold to provide the state some dollars."

(NOTE to Virginia DOT: here's an opportunity to buy cut price-cash equipment for that $60m ORT+cash toll point proposed for VA/I-95 at MP22.)

TxDOT already does all-electronic/cashless tolling (AET) on the short SH45 South tollroad and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) has been cashless since December 2008 on its 183A tollroad in the northwest of the Austin area.

By the end of the year another cashless tollroad SH130 segments 5 and 6 will be opened by the SH130 concession company with cashless AET from the end of the TxDOT SH130 to I-10 near San Antonio. CTRMA have a seventh tollroad, the Manor Expressway under construction that will be cashless too. The first segment of that opens by January 2013.

TOLLROADSnews 2012-09-09

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