Highway lanes once reserved for high-occupancy vehicles on US 75 will open up to all drivers this year after local officials reached a deal with the federal government.
The HOV lanes on US 75 from Sam Rayburn Tollway in Allen to I-635 in Dallas will begin converting to general-use lanes—with some rush-hour tolls—sometime in 2019, the North Central Texas Council of Governments announced in a news release. Local officials negotiated the change with the Federal Highway Administration.
The former HOV lanes will be free to all drivers during most hours, including weekends and most weekday times, the agency said. Officials expect to implement small tolls on these southbound HOV lanes during morning rush hour and on northbound lanes during evening rush hour. Vehicles with multiple occupants will still be able to use the lanes for free at all hours.
The HOV lanes cannot be made completely free because federal law requires them to remain open and free-flowing to high-occupancy vehicles, the local agency said. These lanes were built with federal funding on the condition they remain geared at least partly for multipassenger cars.
Until this change goes into effect, drivers on US 75 can only use the HOV lanes if they are traveling with at least one additional passenger. The existing HOV lanes are “under-used and ineffective,” Collin County Commissioner Duncan Webb said in a statement.
The new lanes will first open on a stretch of US 75 extending from Bethany Drive in Allen to I-635 in Dallas. They will eventually extend north to Sam Rayburn Tollway after crews complete a $28 million interchange project at Ridgeview Drive in 2025.