RICHARDSON Like North Central Expressway on a much smaller scale, there was as much traffic and noise at a public meeting in Richardson Tuesday night.

That's where the Texas Department of Transportation is pitching a plan to make motorists pay to use the highway's existing HOV lanes from LBJ Freeway in Richardson to McDermott Drive in Allen.

'I think we've already paid for our roads, and I don't think we need to pay for them again,' said Collin County resident Julie Anschutz.

There was no shortage of opinions. TxDOT said it's providing drivers a choice explaining that letting solo drivers pay to use the HOV lanes normally reserved for cars with passengers could help ease congestion on the well-traveled highway that runs through some of our area's fastest-growing cities.

Under the proposal, vehicles with two or more occupants would need to register for the week, or at least 15 minutes before using those lanes to drive them for free.

'We could double, maybe quadruple the amount of people that are going through,' said TxDOT spokeswoman Michelle Raglon. 'Carpooling has not been a priority for a lot of Texans. We like our cars, and we like to be in them by ourselves.'

But Richardson City Council member Mark Solomon struggled to find any positives from this plan, especially when he says there are no entry or exit points off Central Expressway in his city.

'The HOV lanes just limit the people coming into Richardson,' he said. 'Our businesses get no benefit from people passing straight through the city.'

Raglon said TxDOT may reconsider those entry and exit points if there is enough public input; she said that's the purpose of the public meetings.

Solomon said he had not heard whether the transit agency is considering any Richardson options.

The projected $11 million project is still in the very early stages of development.


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