Posted on August 27, 2012

With New Toll Lanes, Concerns over Mexico Traffic

Aman Betheja, New York Times, August 25, 2012

As El Paso prepares for its first toll lanes, officials in this border city are struggling with a question that for geographical reasons has been of less concern in Dallas, Austin and Houston, where toll roads are prevalent and proliferating: Will Mexican drivers pay their share?

El Paso will have an electronic tolling system, the same kind that has replaced tollbooths in other parts of the state. Vehicles sporting toll tags are charged as they speed past electronic readers. Those without a tag are sent a bill by mail.

“What do you think is going to happen when we send those bills to Juárez?” Mayor John Cook of El Paso asked at a transportation conference in Irving this month.

He predicted that the bills, which come from a tolling agency in another country, would be ignored.

“The tolls will only be for Texans, not for Mexicans,” Mr. Cook said. “It’s going to be highly unpopular, and I don’t think the revenue is going to be there for it.”


More than 30,000 vehicles cross the bridges northbound from Mexico daily, according to the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation. Local officials worry that few Mexican drivers will feel compelled to pay the tolls.

Both Mr. Cook and State Representative Joe Pickett, Democrat of El Paso, said they feared the paying drivers would feel they were subsidizing Mexican drivers.