DALLAS — It may be the easiest $300 Dallas County ever made.
When construction crews put in signage for the new TEXpress lanes, they had to shut off the HOV lanes of the LBJ Express between Interstate 30 and North Central Expressway.
The project started November 8 and ended November 25. Drivers were not happy to see the unavailable lanes, especially during peak driving times.
"People are getting robbed right now and making drug deals and I'm getting an HOV ticket?" said one driver.
Four deputies stood in the HOV lane and slowly ushered in drivers as they came through.
"Are they giving tickets? Is that what this is?" asked another driver sitting idle on the HOV lane.
The offenders lined up bumper-to-bumper, each receiving a citation for $300. Deputy Rodney Bailey said drivers were cited for crossing the double-white lines and being in a closed lane.
Bailey said there are signs that clearly state the lane is closed, and said there are pylons lining the entire stretch.
The top three excuses provided by drivers:
- "I didn’t know it was closed off"
- "I just followed everyone else"
- "The pylons were missing"
"If you're a construction worker and a car came up to you at 60 mph, I don't think you'd be happy either," Bailey said.
In a two-day sweep, the Sheriff's Office cited 192 drivers; 138 on the LBJ HOV.
But not everyone got caught. Time and time again, drivers noticed the police lights up ahead and escaped back onto the main lanes without the undermanned deputies noticing.
Next month, the Texas Department of Transportation will be closing the HOV lanes on I-35E between LBJ Freeway and Whitlock Lane in Carrollton to begin construction on the 35Express project, which extends from LBJ to Highway 380 in Denton.