Toll lanes eyed for Highway 288

March 13, 2010 6:35:20 AM PST
We all know what it's like to sit in stalled traffic. For the drivers who use Highway 288 every day, sometimes it feels like things won't get any better. But if you could pay to drive on parts of 288, would you take that option? Jermaine Moore is filling up his Dodge before heading into battle on Highway 288 during rush hour. During the 10 years he's lived in Pearland, he says growth has slowed his commute.

"Ridiculous -- morning, noon, late morning, afternoon," Moore said. "It's ridiculous. And the evening -- oh my God."

You heard it. Traffic on 288 can be downright blasphemy. Brazoria County leaders are looking at solutions. Precinct 4 Commissioner Mary Ruth Rhodenbaugh is pushing for toll lanes.

"We many times are criticized for pay road, but the free lanes will always be there," she said.

TxDOT officials say environmental studies have been conducted on Highway 288 near Pearland as recently as last year. The Harris County Toll Road Authority also says the area is being evaluated for toll lanes but as of right now there are no official plans or timetable for a project. But when you bring up toll lanes to drivers in Pearland, you get mixed reviews.

"It would make it more easy to get where they going," said driver Jimmy Young. "If they don't want to pay the toll, they can stay on the feeder."

Nevertheless, others say toll roads have become the only answer to easing congestion around the Houston area and that the gas tax we pay at the pump should be used to pay the way it was designed.

One driver asked, "Don't we have enough? Beltway 8, Westpark, I-10, Hardy Toll Road -- I think we have enough toll roads."

Moore asked, "Can we just widen the free lanes? They widened I-10 with free lanes. One lane on either side."

"They need to expand 288," said driver James Robertson. "They've needed to do it for almost 20 years. Pearland is growing exponentially and they don't seem to want to do anything to fix it."

Commissioner Rhodenbaugh says she would like to see toll lanes in three years but is not sure that's feasible in our current economic downturn.


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