HARRIS COUNTY, Texas– Harris County Commissioners unanimously approved six separate contracts totaling $37.7 million during their Aug. 2 meeting to transition the Harris County Toll Road Authority to all-electric toll roads, or AETs.
The video above is from a previous report: “Tollways to Trailways:” HCTRA unveils a new $53 million road widening plan
A one-page map of potential tollway transition areas on the HCTRA website shows 11 interesting segments of the tollway system throughout the county. The August 2 contracts commission five separate engineering firms to design a segment of the tollway system, including segments 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7 along the Sam Houston Tollway and their respective entry and exit ramps.
A sixth contract with Kansas City, Missouri-based infrastructure design firm HNTB Corp. awarded $5.52 million for work on all segments except segments 10 and 11 along the Westpark Tollway, although the contract with HNTB states that HCTRA may request additional support along the Westpark Tollway on the northeast portion of the Sam Houston Tollway and Hardy Toll Road airport and downtown connections.
Transition to AETs
Commissioners first approved an HCTRA request in April 2021 to obtain technical services to initiate the transition from cash toll booths to AETs. Since then, court members have approved several expenses for the transition.
In August 2021, the commissioners approved a $19.8 million agreement with Entech Civil Engineers Inc., a Texas engineering consulting firm, to manage the overall program for the entire tollway system over a five-year period. The contract assigned Entech a number of responsibilities including project oversight, cost estimation and public engagement.
And on June 14, the commissioners approved four $1 million contracts for traffic modeling around the toll roads over a period of 1,480 days, just over four years.
A system of fully electronic toll roads is safer, more efficient and less expensive to manage than staffed toll booths, according to a statement from Roxy Sibrian, director of communications at HCTRA.
“HCTRA’s investment in AET will save lives, prevent accidents and injuries, and reduce property damage,” Sibrian said in an email. “By getting rid of these spaces and switching to fully electronic (toll roads), we can expect a reduction in the number of accidents, according to experts.”
Sibrian said the community should expect cash signage on the Sam Houston Tollway to be removed or changed in August and to continue to do so for the next few months.
As for drivers who wish to pay with cash, Sibrian said they are encouraged to create an EZ TAG account on the HCTRA website and use a prepaid debit card that can be purchased with cash. She added that HCTRA continues to evaluate additional options.
This article is courtesy of our ABC13 partners at Community Impact Newspapers.
https://abc13.com/harris-county-toll-roads-all-electronic-tollways-approved-hctra-westpark-tollway/12107400/ Harris County Commissioners approve $37.7 million in construction contracts for all-electric toll roads