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TXDOT To Overhaul Central Expressway

It is a kind of love/hate relationship with drivers. Central is the most direct route from Dallas to the heart of McKinney and Collin County. And frequently the most irritating. "I mean, there's good days and bad days. Definitely," says Katilin Roemeling of Dallas, who normally drives from Dallas to the north in the mornings, against the usual flow of rush hour traffic.

On June 18th and 20th, TXDOT will hold public meetings to brainstorm ways to overhaul Central. "People will see concepts," according to TXDOT's Tony Hartzel, "and we really want to hear from the public because we're just starting this process."

Hartzel adds the discussion is wide open, but realizes one thing likely to come up are the much-despised HOV lanes. Among the detractors is Richardson's Robert Hill. "They're hard to access. If you don't get on way the other side of Richardson you're shut off most of the way up. And it's not used enough." He suggests, "They need to get some ramps where you can get on to the HOV lanes more often."

One TX-DOT idea is to turn HOVs into managed lanes, like ones planned for LBJ. "There would be a toll," admits TXDOT's Hartzel, "but you could get there any time of day about 50mph." Whether people would people really pay for something that's supposed to be free is a matter of debate. Roemeling claims, "Yeah. It's faster, wouldn't have to sit in traffic all night or day." But Rieff isn't comfortable with the process. "I have a problem with that. I come back to tax dollars and how it was funded."

Though it might not immediately appear that there's room to expand the roadway, adding lanes in each direction is a possibility, too, according to Hartzel. "One of the things we'll look at is what are the costs for acquiring some of the addtional land next to it."

So right now the discussion is pretty much an open book. Drivers are asked to be prepared to offer some thoughts to TXDOT at the meetings. But Plano's Rieff is not sure solutions will come easily. "I think culturally we're going to have difficulty in it because this is Texas: one person, one horse."

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