Two sections of disconnected frontage road (in purple) are to be tolled, apparently a first for NTTA. The toll at all four shown gantries will be 23¢.
(Base map from Google.)
A number of Garland citizens have deduced that they are soon to be asked to pay tolls twice (or more) for a short trip that has always been free and had been expected to be remain free. Now that the extension of PGBT (SH-190) is open, more and more people will notice the discrepancy. When traveling east, the exit to Lavon Ave—near the Firewheel Town Center, Home Depot, and other commonly-visited stores—is free. However, if someone stays on the frontage road beyond the Sachse exit thinking to reach those stores, they will pay a toll even though in a couple hundred yards the frontage road can again be accessed free. It is very similar on the north side. The disconnected tolled sections are shown in purple on the map.
There are no frontage roads on the PGBT across Spring Creek, between Lavon Ave and Brand Rd. (Not shown on the map but is to the west. A Google map of the area is here.) It has long been agreed that there would be no toll to cross the creek. It was much cheaper than building new bridges for frontage roads. (Not to mention physically and logically unnecessary, and a waste of money.) Someone entering from Brand and exiting at the next exit to Lavon does not pay a toll and it is the same in the other direction. However, those headed east that have been entering the tollway from N Garland Ave have been paying a toll to enter or to exit for several years, since the turnpike was opened. Those exiting to Crist Rd or Firewheel Pkwy will now pay a toll. Since the ramps to and from Firewheel Pkwy are new, the toll is not unexpected. Not true for Crist Rd. There is no new access. True, the older roads had to be reconstructed to properly tie to the extension but that change is not noticed by motorists and seems more a hardship the turnpike authority created for itself than something local drivers should be paying for.
I and other public officials have spoken to NTTA but our points have not been recognized. One NTTA official told me that local drivers could still cross the creek free and then use frontage roads free from there. In a map to illustrate the point, what I was shown was exiting at Lavon and continuing south to Crist Rd to turn back north, or toward Sachse and then turn past the Town Center onto Firewheel Pkwy to come back. Not intuitive or practical.
Frankly, I don't see much chance of logic prevailing this time. And there are some practical reasons to accept the extra pay points. If the two purple sections were not tolled, traffic would exit sooner and clog the Crist Rd area or, on the north side, wait longer to enter the turnpike, clogging the Lavon Rd entrances to the turnpike. Traffic will follow the path of least resistance (and expense).
It is also important to understand that there has been no bait-and-switch; the plans as far back as I have looked have not changed. From the earliest maps that I have been able to review, there have been toll gantries exactly where they now exist.
The toll amount for the two points and for Firewheel Pkwy will be the same, currently 23¢ (two-axle rate). It seems best to wait and see how the traffic flows once the work is finished and patterns set. Unfortunately, it may be the most practical configuration. But it all comes with a strong taste of iron.