TxDOT planning to remove HOV barriers on Central Expressway

A big change may be coming to the HOV lanes on the North Central Expressway between Dallas and Collin counties.

The Texas Department of Transportation is planning to convert them to "technology lanes" that would allow more drivers to use them.

The change affects the HOV lanes on U.S. 75 between Interstate 635 in Dallas County and the Sam Rayburn Tollway in Collin County.

The plastic pylons that are there now and often run over by drivers would go away. They’d be replaced by thick white lines.

"We’ve heard loud and clear that the pylons are not very popular, and they haven’t worked well," said Tony Hartzel, a spokesman for TxDOT. "Those were intended to keep people in the lanes but allow people to get out in emergencies. But it’s become somewhat of a challenge to maintain those. And so, what we’re looking at now, the good news is motorists can get in and out of these technology lanes wherever they deem appropriate during those hours it’s available."

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HOV restrictions would be enforced during the morning and evening rush hour. But during the rest of the day, all drivers would be allowed to go in and out of the lanes.

"Twenty-two hours out of the day, any vehicle will be able to use this lane. But during peak hours, that would be 7 to 9 a.m. southbound and 4 to 6 p.m. northbound that would be for HOV only and low emission vehicles only," Hartzel said.

The information would be displayed on overhead signs so drivers know when they can and cannot use the lanes.

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The project is expected to cost about $60 million. Most of that will be funded by TxDOT’s regional and federal partners as a way of repurposing the under-utilized lanes.

"There’s going to be no tolls on this project at all. That’s another part of the good news," Hartzel said.

Construction is expected to begin later this year and will be done in phases over the next three years.

Before that happens, TxDOT is hosting a public hearing to get input from the community and answer questions. 

That meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church in Richardson.