Veteran Motorist Chooses Traffic Over Costly Toll Fees in North Texas

Joanna St. Angelo, a seasoned driver, often chooses to sit in traffic rather than use the TEXpress lane due to unpredictable toll fees. She carefully calculates the cost of her drive, noting that a single leg of the tollway can cost between $4 to $6 or more.

Nitish Verma
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Veteran Motorist Chooses Traffic Over Costly Toll Fees in North Texas

Veteran Motorist Chooses Traffic Over Costly Toll Fees in North Texas

Joanna St. Angelo, a seasoned driver in her 60s, has been navigating the same commute from Grapevine to downtown Dallas for the past 30 years. Despite the option to use the adjacent TEXpress lane on State Highway 114, St. Angelo often opts to endure bumper-to-bumper traffic rather than pay the unpredictable toll road fees, which can reach up to $22 one way.

Why this matters: The debate over toll roads and their effectiveness in managing traffic congestion has significant implications for urban planning and transportation policy. As cities continue to grow and traffic worsens, the fairness and sustainability of toll roads will become increasingly important issues for policymakers and commuters alike.

St. Angelo, who has been driving the route since before TEXpress opened in 2014, carefully calculates the cost of her drive to avoid getting stuck on the tollway and accumulating charges. "I'd rather just sit in traffic on 114 than pay five bucks, which is what it typically would cost in the morning," she explains.

The pricing on the tollway can fluctuate significantly, with a single leg of the tollway, spanning one to three miles or less, potentially costing between $4 to $6 or more. St. Angelo notes, "One leg of the tollway — one to three miles or less — could cost $4 to $6 or more. So it's $6.81 for this leg. Now, it's $14, it just changed. Plus 88 cents. But once you're on it, you can't get off it. And if you don't have a toll tag, it's $10. Man, you can have dinner for that amount."

To make informed decisions about using the toll lanes, St. Angelo takes mental notes of traffic patterns and pricing shifts. She explains, "So it gets past O'Connor (Road), which is where the funnel stops being a funnel, and it's about four minutes, so you get to save two minutes by spending $4 to $6, so I am not going to pay that for two minutes, especially if I see a truck get on in front of me because they just slow down and they don't go the speed limit."

The veteran motorist also points out the impact of cross traffic on the congestion, stating, "There's a huge amount of cross traffic right here because everybody is coming up for Mockingbird (Lane) and they're trying to get on there. Then everyone on Regal Row is trying to come on. They're all too late to get on it, so they don't have a choice and so, yeah, it backs up a lot."

St. Angelo's experience highlights the challenges faced by commuters in North Texas, where the choice between sitting in traffic or paying unpredictable toll fees is a daily reality. As the region continues to grow and traffic congestion worsens, the debate over the effectiveness and fairness of toll roads remains a pressing issue for many motorists like St. Angelo.

Key Takeaways

  • Joanna St. Angelo, a 60-year-old driver, avoids TEXpress lane due to unpredictable toll fees.
  • Toll fees on TEXpress lane can fluctuate significantly, up to $22 one way.
  • St. Angelo calculates costs and observes traffic patterns to make informed decisions.
  • Cross traffic and funneling contribute to congestion on State Highway 114.
  • The debate over toll roads' effectiveness and fairness remains a pressing issue in North Texas.