Much discussion has occurred on the thoughts about the toll lanes on the Cesar Chavez Border Highway. Some believe they are beneficial to increase highway infrastructure in El Paso, others say that they are not necessary and that by freeing up that lane it will bring in much more benefits to El Pasoans. The man leading the discussion in removing the toll lanes is state Representative Joe Pickett. He mentions and discusses two main barriers El Paso must get over to remove the toll lanes: one being convincing El Pasoans it is not necessary to have these toll lanes anymore and second to hear the propositions and put them into effect.
On the weekend of October 23 at an El Paso Metropolitan Organization meeting, Pickett explained his reasons justifying why El Paso would be better without these tolls and one of these reasons was that El Paso was at a time in need of money to improve highways and roads. Since no large source of income was coming in for The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) they began to push for toll lanes as a source of income. Thus came the toll lane on the Cesar Chavez Border Highway. Receiving funding from legislature was not an easy task. Pickett said, “Legislature was not supporting them (TXDOT). Trying to get the attention of the Legislature 10-12 years ago was tough”. Therefore this shows us that now that we have received the funding necessary to construct new highways the implementation of toll lanes are no longer a necessity, another issue still pending is that TXDOT had given money to El Paso to construct additions to the highway and current toll lanes and now El Paso has a debt of 5.6 million dollars. Pickett is hoping and suggesting that the city should get this debt forgiven. If that occurs then the propositions being voted on will need to be passed so that they will suffice for funding on future transportation projects. These two propositions are proposition 1 and 7. Proposition 1 was voted on in November 2014 and this will distribute tax from the state’s oil and gas and distribute the funds to the Texas Department of Transportation. Proposition 7 is still pending which will redistribute a portion of the sales tax to transportation funds.
Overall we can see the two inherent issues that El Paso faces if they proceed in the process of removing the toll lanes. The debt must be forgiven and the propositions will need to be passed if these two tasks are to be executed, then the possibility of the toll lanes being removed is high. State Rep. Joe Pickett will continue to bring awareness at state and city board meetings about these issues that must be solved.