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Some plan to avoid border highway tolls

By: Stacey Welsh
EL PASO, Texas -- People will soon have to pay to drive along one busy El Paso highway.

The Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority expects the Cesar Chavez Highway to become a toll road by January 2014.

The toll road is about a 9-mile stretch along Loop 375 to east of U.S. Route 54. CRRMA Executive Director Raymond Telles said this project will bill drivers, including drivers from Mexico, through the mail using license-plate readers.

"The trick is going to be working with the international bridge division to figure out what we can do with them (drivers from Mexico). We are also working with the El Paso Police Department in trying to figure out how we deal with those folks," Telles said.

Telles said drivers may also purchase transmitters to place on their windshields to charge the tolls. They will be required to buy those, loaded with $20, and can reload them. Telles also expects this project to free up lanes on Interstate 10.

"Loop 375 had two lanes in each direction. What this project did was push those lanes to the outside and added one lane in each direction in the center. It's actually added capacity," Telles said.

This also means drivers can choose to drive in a lane on the loop and border highway without paying tolls. 

Despite this, some people told KFOX14 they plan to avoid paying tolls in El Paso.

"With the economy the way it is right now, I don't really think it's something that should be brought up," east El Paso resident James McCall said.

Telles said the toll road will charge 90 cents for the whole stretch. CRRMA also plans to charge drivers more during peak traffic times to maintain a 60 miles per hour speed limit.

According to CRRMA, the long-term plan is to link transmitters for the upcoming toll road to future toll roads and even parking garages. Telles said this would help drivers pay for those services in one place.

 

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