Texas Road Network

By | October 13, 2022

Road management

Most of the highway network is managed by the Texas Department of Transportation. TxDOT operates virtually all numbered roads, namely the Interstate Highways, the US Highways, State Highways, Farm to Market Roads and Ranch to Market Roads. All these roads are paved. FM Roads are mainly found in eastern Texas and RM Roads mainly in the west. The US 281 is the dividing line. The FM and RM Roads account for half of all roads managed by TxDOT. In total, TxDOT manages approximately 160,000 kilometers of road.

Some of the roads in Texas are toll roads. These are mostly managed by regional toll road authorities, such as the Harris County Toll Road Authority around Houston and the North Texas Tollway Authority in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. These are often affiliated with TxDOT but operate as independent organizations and are usually not for profit, although turning a profit is necessary to expand the network of toll roads. In addition, Regional Mobility Authorities (RMAs) have been set up to build the road network at regional level. The most famous of these are the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority around Austin and the North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority in the northeast part of the state around Tyler and Longview. In addition, there are a number of these authorities that do not yet manage toll roads.

  • Bittranslators: State overview of Texas, including geography, economy, population and history as well as introduction to major cities of Texas.

In addition, there are also roads in the management of the counties, the county highways. These are often very minor roads, given that almost all roads of any importance are already managed by TxDOT, including the many farm to market roads that would function as county highways in other states. County highways are often poorly maintained and only traveled by local traffic, in many cases Texas county highways are unpaved or gravel roads. In some counties they are numbered.

The road network in Texas is in relatively good condition. Due to the strong population growth, many roads in the metropolitan regions have been reconstructed since the 1990s, leaving relatively little outdated infrastructure. The proportion of bridges in poor condition is the second lowest in the United States.

  • Deluxesurveillance: Nickname of Texas as The Lone Star State. Also covers geography, history, economy, politics and administration of the state.


TxDOT has several slogans;

  • Drive Friendly, the Texas Way: A state line reminder to drive calmly and kindly. The ‘drive friendly, drive safe’ campaign was launched in 2013 due to the increase in the number of road deaths among pedestrians and cyclists. [3]
  • Don’t Mess with Texas: A slogan coined in 1985 to reduce roadside litter in Texas. At the time, the state was spending $20 million a year to clean up litter. Thanks to the slogan, the amount of litter decreased by 72% between 1986 and 1990.
  • text. crash. : a campaign to reduce the number of accidents due to distraction. With the popularity of smartphones, the number of accidents caused by distraction has risen sharply. In 2014, there were 100,825 traffic accidents in Texas that were the result of distraction.
  • Move Over or Slow Down: Legislation requiring that when approaching emergency services, it is mandatory to shift one lane or reduce speed by at least 20 mph. Since 2013, this also applies to TxDOT vehicles. The ‘move over law’ applies in many states.
  • Be Safe. DriveSmart. : a road safety campaign specifically aimed at the areas where a lot of oil and gas is produced. With the rapid growth of the energy sector in parts of Texas, the number of accidents on roads in those regions increased sharply.


Until the mid-2000s, TxDOT used almost exclusively wood signage. These were wooden plates on which the metal signage was mounted. These appeared to rot over time and signage fell apart, especially the separately mounted road number plate often fell off signposts. Later they switched to metal signage, because the wooden plates often didn’t last more than 10 to 15 years.

Road numbering

Type Administrator Abbreviation
Interstate Highway Texas I, IH
US Highway Texas US, US
State Highway Texas SH
Farm to Market Road Texas FM
Ranch to Market Road Texas RM
Urban Road [9] Texas UR
spur Texas SR
walk Texas LP
Beltway [10] Texas BW
Business Route Texas BR, Bus.
Alternative Route Texas A, Alt.
Bypass Route Texas BYP
Park Road Texas PR
Recreational Road Texas RE
County Road counties CR

All roads in the administration of the state of Texas are formally a state highway, but there are different road numbering systems. For example, all regular state highways are numbered in one system, all spurs and loops are numbered in a common system and all FM and RM Roads are numbered in one system.

Frontage roads are not numbered separately. They belong to the main route (often an Interstate Highway or US Highway, but sometimes also a State Highway).


Some separate numbers have been used that do not form a system. These are NASA Road 1 and State Route OSR (Old San Antonio Road). There is also the 183A toll road which has no prefix, but is a toll road parallel to US 183 north of Austin.

Some toll roads do not have a number but a name, with or without an abbreviation, such as the Chisholm Trail Parkway (CTP), Fort Bend Parkway, Hardy Toll Road, President George Bush Turnpike (PGBT) and the Westpark Tollway.

Two loop numbers are numbered thematically outside the regular road numbering system: Loop 1604 around San Antonio (formerly FM 1604) and Loop 1910 near Andrews, named after the year Andrews County was organized. Loop 1910 is not a state highway and has a blue road number plate.

Located at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), Spur 1966 in El Paso is named after the year the UTEP won the 1966 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. It is the only 4-digit spur number in Texas.

Park Road 1836 just outside Houston is numbered after the year Texas became independent from Mexico, the road also passes through San Jacinto Battleground State Park, where the Battle of San Jacinto was fought in 1836, decisive in the Texas Revolution against Mexico.

Recreational Road 255 is a much higher number than other recreational roads in Texas. This number is based on the previous FM 255.

The Wurzbach Parkway is numbered PA 1502, part of the disused Principal Arterial Street System (PASS) of the city of San Antonio.

There have also been spur routes from FM Roads in the past, but these were scrapped in the 1990s.

Road network

US 75 at the President George Bush Turnpike in Dallas.

Texas has few Interstate Highways for its size and population. That is because a large part of the population lives in one of the 5 largest metropolitan areas. Four east-west routes cross the state, from south to north Interstate 10, Interstate 20, Interstate 30 and Interstate 40. Several north-south axes traverse the state, such as Interstate 27, Interstate 35, Interstate 37, Interstate 44, Interstate 45, and Interstate 69. Interstate 2. also runs in the extreme south of Texas, and I-69 splits into multiple incomplete branches from Victoria to Laredo, McAllen, and Brownsville. In addition, a number of three-digit auxiliary routes complement the Interstate Highway network. Given the size of its urban regions, Texas has relatively few 3-digit Interstate Highways.

A large number of US Highways are well developed with mostly 2×2 lanes, and often with freeway features such as grade separated intersections. Particularly in western Texas, many US Highways are a 2×2 divided highway. In urban areas, the US Highways are often part of the commuter network and are often freeways. State highways and Farm to Market Roads complement this network at a local and regional level.

A striking item along the Texas highways are the frontage roads, these are feeders that run parallel to the highways on both sides, and direct traffic to the various exits, companies and office parks. In some cases, in new spatial developments, the Frontage Roads are built first, and only later, if necessary, the highway in the median strip, to avoid lengthy procedures. Because many highways are made of concrete, they often do not look aesthetically pleasing, especially in Houston, with gigantic industrial estates along the highways. This contrasts with the green residential areas that surround it.

A new trend is to build toll roads in the absence of federal funding, first in Houston, later in Dallas, and more recently in Austin. San Antonio has no toll roads. These toll roads are often constructed at a rapid pace with the necessary space reservations.

4-level stack nodes are very prominent in Texas, especially in Dallas, but also in the other metropolitan areas. The intersecting Frontage Roads intersect at ground level, often leading to massive and large interchanges. There are over 100 stack nodes in Texas. There are also many SPUI connections. Other typical Texas features include a Texas U-turn, the Texas T, evaculanes, and managed lanes.

Interstate Highways

Texas has the longest length of Interstate Highways within one state, and is one of the states where new Interstate Highways are still being developed on a large scale. However, given the size of the state, the network of Interstate Highways is not very dense. In addition, not all cities are connected by Interstate Highway, the most notable of which is the missing route from Austin to Houston. But the cities in the Texas Panhandle are also not connected to the rest of Texas by Interstate Highway, most prominently the missing routes from Amarillo to Fort Worth and from Lubbock to Abilene. San Angelo is the largest city not served by Interstate Highways at all. The Cities of the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas do have Interstate Highways, but they are not yet connected to the rest of the network.

The state of Texas is the only one to abbreviate the numbers of Interstate Highways both internally and to the public as “IH 10” instead of I-10 as in the other states. However, the road number plate is not different from other states, where no prefix is used anyway.

US Highways

Texas has a pretty dense network of US Highways. Almost all places of any regional importance are served by US Highways, so that they have an important role for regional accessibility. This is partly because the Interstate Highway network is not very dense. Some US Highways have been renumbered Interstate Highways since 2010, such as US 77 and US 83 in South Texas (I-2 and I-69E) and US 59 in the Houston area (I-69). The network of US Highways is more or less positioned in a grid, but in the past several US Highways from West Texas have disappeared with the completion of the Interstate Highways. US Highways have also been operated as freeways in many urban areas. Significant portions of US Highways are like 2×2 divided highway executed.

List of Longest U.S. Highways in Texas

US 380 at Post, southeast of Lubbock.

US 87 northwest of Dalhart in the Texas Panhandle.

Below is a list of the longest US Highways in Texas (including double numbering). Texas is the only state with 7 US Highways longer than 1,000 kilometers.

Route Length
Port Lavaca – San Antonio – Brady – San Angelo – Big Spring – Lubbock – Amarillo – Dumas – Texline 1,287 km
Brownsville – McAllen – Laredo – Uvalde – Abilene – Childress – Perryton 1,261 km
Van Horn – Marfa – Del Rio – San Antonio – Houston – Beaumont – Orange 1,241 km
Port Arthur – Beaumont – Palestine – Fort Worth – Wichita Falls – Childress – Amarillo – Stratford 1,236 km
Presidio – Fort Stockton – San Angelo – Brownwood – Dallas – Mount Pleasant – Texarkana 1,195 km
Farwell – Lubbock – Abilene – Brownwood – Waco – Palestine – Tenaha 1,064 km
Brownsville – McAllen – San Antonio – Lampasas – Wichita Falls – Burkburnett 1,039 km
Laredo – Victoria – Houston – Lufkin – Marshall – Texarkana 985 km
Iran – Brady – Temple – Bryan – Livingston – Jasper 954 km
Brownsville – Victoria – Waco – Dallas – Gainesville 969 km
Big Bend NP – Fort Stockton – Odessa – Brownfield – Hereford – Dalhart 920 km
Plains – Lubbock – Wichita Falls – Sherman – Paris – Texarkana 896 km
Carrizo Springs – Del Rio – San Angelo – Abilene – Wichita Falls – Burkburnett 832 km
Refugio – Austin – Brownwood – Seymour – Vernon 775 km
Anthony – El Paso – Lamesa – Weatherford 766 km
Plains – Brownfield – Jacksboro – Denton – McKinney – Greenville 693 km
El Paso – Seminole – Lubbock – Childress 652 km
Port Arthur – Beaumont – Lufkin – Tyler – Denison 566 km
Del Rio – Brady – Fort Worth – Whitesboro 544 km

State Highways

SH 118 in Big Bend National Park.

Texas has a large network of state highways. These are only occasionally important for long-distance traffic, but are regularly operated as freeway or toll roads in and around the major cities. The network of state highways was developed from 1917, but little of the original numbering is left because the US Highways took over the task from 1926, and from the 1950s also the Interstate Highways. State highways are therefore often not very long (given the size of Texas). Only a few routes are more than 300 kilometers long.

The network of state highways includes not only main routes, but also spurs and loops, as well as business routes. The numbering of the loops (ring roads) is often confused with that of state highways on maps. There can be spurs, loops and state highways with the same number. These are not related to each other. Many loops have relatively high numbers. The loops are mostly found in the east and northeast of the state, and less so in other areas.


The Texas Highway Department was established in 1917. Then a first road numbering of 26 state highways was also introduced. Many routes were still planned at the time, Texas had only about 4.3 million inhabitants at the time, mainly in rural areas. The cities were still very small, and they were not as distinct from each other as they are today, which resulted in today’s relatively small towns becoming major state highway junctions, particularly in Central Texas and West Texas. The most striking feature of the 1917 planned network was that no direct state highway between Houston and Dallas was envisaged.

The 26 state highways were all long-haul routes connecting the major cities and regions of Texas, with a combined length of 14,267 kilometers. About 89% of the Texas population lived along or near a state highway. Additional routes were added to the network in 1919. Until well into the 1920s, the vast majority of state highways consisted of dirt roads and gravel roads. In 1927, the network of state highways consisted of 28,900 kilometers of road, of which only about 1,900 kilometers were paved. In the 1930s, a significant portion of state highways were paved, especially in the east and center of the state. Building roads proved difficult in the sparsely populated regions of West Texas, as there was still too little material and labor available to build state highways on a large scale. Even the later construction of Interstate Highways in the 1960s was relatively slow because of this.

In 1926 the US Highways were created, which in many cases were built over the state highways. Both systems were used twice for some time, but in 1938-1939 many state highways were scrapped in favor of the US Highways. The current numbering system for state highways is therefore only partly based on the original numbering system from 1917-1919. Partly due to the dense network of US Highways, state highways therefore clearly have a secondary importance for through traffic. There were also many state highways with a suffix in the 1920s-30s, but these were almost all deleted in 1939 with the introduction of road numbers for the loops in that year.


  • the longest state highway: SH 16 between Zapata and Wichita Falls (872 kilometers)
  • the longest loop: Walk 1604 around San Antonio (151.9 kilometers)
  • longest spur: Spur 303 between Fort Worth and Dallas (27.9 kilometers)
  • the shortest spur: Spur 200 in Roma (80 m), not signposted
  • the shortest loop: Loop 168 in Tenaha (119 m)
  • the shortest regular state highway: SH 165 in Austin (824 meters)
  • the highest state highway: Spur 78 to the McDonald Observatory (2070 m)
  • the highest regular state highway: SH 118 near Mount Locke (approx. 1900 m)

Farm Roads

The FM 170 along the Rio Grande.

In Texas, another state-level road number tier exists, the Farm to Market Roads and the Ranch to Market Roads. The FM roads are numerous, although they have disappeared from urban areas due to suburbanization since the 1960s. Here there was still little agricultural on the routes that had been expanded into broad urban arterials with six or seven lanes (with or without a center turn lane ). In western Texas there are more RM roads, but FM roads are actually in the majority here too. Historically, I-35 was often designated as the dividing line between FM and RM roads, but in fact this is incorrect, most of these roads west of I-35 are also FM roads.

FM and RM Roads are often less designed in carrying capacity than more important State Highways and US Highways. However, in terms of cross section and alignment, they are often relatively well designed and allow high maximum speeds. 60 – 70 mph is not uncommon on rural FM Roads. Compared to Europe, this network of secondary roads is considerably better developed.

Since 2010, oil and gas production has grown strongly in Texas. This comes primarily from three regions, the Barnett Shale on the west side of the Fort Worth region, the West Texas Permian Basin (wide region around Midland-Odessa ), and the Eagle Ford Shale in a swath south and east of San Antonio. With horizontal drilling techniques much more oil and gas can be extracted than with conventional techniques. That is why thousands of new drilling rigs have been built in the countryside of these regions. The materials are delivered by truck. The FM roads suffer a lot because they are not built for so much freight traffic. Many FM Roads have lower design requirements with a thinner surface than the other state highways. FM Roads in the oil regions drive 20 to 50 times as much freight traffic as the roads are designed for. And it turns out that a lot of these trucks are overloaded. 1,000 to 4,000 truckloads are required per derrick. Maintenance costs per mile have increased by a factor of 30 on many FM Roads.


The early years

The Texas Highway Department was created on April 4, 1917, and the first public consultation for a road project followed in 1917. Also in 1917, the first 14,267 miles of highway was brought under the control of the Texas Highway Department, which served 89 percent of the Texas population at the time. At the time, Texas was a state of about 4 million inhabitants and the economy was still mainly based on agriculture and ranching, with an increasing oil industry. In 1927, the Texas road network was 28,900 miles long, including 154 miles in concrete, 1,710 miles in asphalt, and 8,000 miles in gravel. 20,000 kilometers was completely unpaved and mostly impassable after rainfall.

First freeways

The US 69/96/287 in the Netherlands.

The state grew rapidly in the 1940s and 1950s, growing to nearly 8 million residents by 1950. In 1948, Texas’s first freeway, part of the Gulf Freeway in Houston, opened. In 1949, the first highway in Dallas , the Central Expressway, followed. During the 1950s, the first steps were taken towards the construction of a highway network, which accelerated from the creation of the Interstate Highway system in 1956. During the 1960s, most of I-10, I-35, and I-45 were constructed in the Houston-Dallas-San Antonio triangle. Construction was slower in West Texas because of the enormous distances in this area. It was only since the late 1980s and early 1990s that the Interstate Highways were continuously accessible.

The relatively substandard design was characteristic of the first phase of freeways in Houston and Dallas in particular. Lampposts were often unscreened directly next to the carriageway, the lane separation was often no more than a wide curb and a recurring problem was the poor visibility, especially horizontally because the first freeways went over intersecting roads with steep slopes, preventing motorists from moving very far. to look. With the growth of the traffic volume, this already caused a poorer traffic flow from the 1960s onwards. Many safety measures were also implemented in the 1960s, such as the mounting of guide rails, the placement of jersey barriers and later some freeways were converted so that people go up and down less on the intersecting roads. However, some freeways are still characterized by constantly going up and down.

Texas had completed much of the Interstate Highways early on, and by 1965, 3,379 kilometers of the planned 4,878 kilometers of Interstate Highway had already been opened and 692 kilometers under construction. The state later suffered from the ‘law of the braking lead’, as much of the Interstate Highways were constructed with 1950s design requirements, especially in horizontal alignment and right-of-way width.and central reservation. From the mid-1960s, Interstate Highways with more modern design requirements in terms of width and sightlines were constructed, but a large part of the Texas Interstate Highway network was already completed. Particularly from the 1980s, many highways were modernized, especially in urban areas, but also the I-35 corridor from San Antonio to Dallas/Fort Worth.

Frontage roads

Frontage roads along Beltway 8 in Houston.

Also characteristic of Texas are the frontage roads. These have been built since the very first highways, because legislation required landowners to remain accessible from main roads, including freeways. Many frontage roads have already been built in Houston, in particular. The frontage roads were originally frequently interrupted by rivers, crossing railways and other narrow points. First, in Houston, continuous frontage roads of 2 to 3, sometimes 4 lanes in each direction were deployed. Later this was also used more in Dallas and San Antonio. Frontage roads can be found along almost all freeways in Texas, often in rural areas.

Later Expansion

Texas’s population grew rapidly, reaching 10 million by the mid-1960s and 17 million by 1990. In 1967, the road network included 106,000 miles of road, and in 1992 the Interstate Highway network was declared complete with the opening of 10 miles from Interstate 27 in Lubbock. The Texas Department of Transportation has existed in its current form since 1991. Earlier, in 1955, the Texas Turnpike Authority was created to build the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike, Texas’s first toll highway, which would later become Interstate 30. The Dallas North Tollway was also started in the 1960s. The construction of toll roads took off in the Houston area from the 1980swhen the Sam Houston Tollway was built around the city, as well as the Hardy Toll Road. From the 1990s, the fuel tax in the United States proved insufficient to pay for the enormous road network of Texas, so that more toll roads were built, from 2003, in addition to the toll roads in the Dallas and Houston regions, the Austin region was added, which from the 90 experienced tremendous growth. In 2019, the first toll road opened in El Paso. San Antonio is as yet the only metropolis that does not have toll roads.

Traffic intensity

The busiest highway in 2013 was I-10 ( Katy Freeway ) in western Houston with up to 383,000 vehicles per day. At the time, this was also the second busiest highway in the United States. The lowest intensity on an Interstate Highway is also on I-10, between Fort Stockton and Ozona with 3,800 vehicles per day. The busiest interurban corridor is I-35 between San Antonio and Dallas/Fort Worth, the quietest point here has 60,000 vehicles per day. Despite Texas’ major cities, I-10 and I-45 do not handle particularly high volumes of traffic between San Antonio & Houston and between Houston & Dallas, with long stretches of around 30,000 vehicles per day.

Maximum speed

75 mph (120 km/h) on a two-lane road ( US 67 ).

The general speed limit in Texas is 70 mph, but higher and lower limits may be set. In practice, many US Highways in western, central, and southern Texas have a 75 mph speed limit, while the east often has a lower speed limit between 55 and 70 mph.

Texas has the highest average speed limits in the United States. This is mainly due to the enormous surface area, the highway with the highest speed limit in the United States is State Highway 130 south of the capital Austin, where the speed limit is 85 mph (137 km/h). A significant portion of I-10 and part of I-20 in West Texas has a 80 mph (129 km/h) speed limit. On the major through- Interstate Highways between the major cities, 75 mph is generally applicable. The freeways and toll roads in the metropolitan agglomerations generally apply 60-65 mph, on some short very urban stretches 55 mph.

Special in Texas are the high speed limits on the secondary road network. Many US Highways and many State Highways are allowed to drive at 75 mph, even on single-lane roads with oncoming traffic. On 2×2 divided highways usually 75 mph applies. Speed limits on the secondary road network are usually highest in western and southern Texas, and lowest in the east, although 75 mph sections also exist there. Particularly in the area between Austin and I-45, many through roads are 55 mph. In the Texas Panhandle, almost all roads, including Farm and Ranch Roads, allow 70 to 75 mph.


The western portion of I-610 in Houston is one of the most congested highways in Texas.

Traffic intensities are highest in Houston, but most traffic jams occur in Dallas, because that agglomeration is larger and has relatively more highways with a shortage of capacity. Only in Houston are most highways with 2×5 lanes really wide, in other conurbations this is usually only a limited number of highways. The number of traffic jams is often large, but most are quite short with limited delays. Only on a few highways such as I-635 and I-820 in Dallas, US 59 and US 290 in Houston, and I-35 in Austin are longer delays. There are few traffic jams in San Antonio and El Paso, although it is not too bad nationally in Houston and Dallas.

Interstate 35 is one of the busiest interurban connections, particularly between Austin and San Antonio, but actually the entire route to Dallas. The other interurban highways are quieter, especially the I-10 and I-20 to the west, where there is very little traffic. Because housing in Texas is among the cheapest in the United States, huge residential areas are springing up like mushrooms. In 2008, it became known that the homebuilding industry is unable to keep up with sales, unlike other parts of the US. Job growth is also very strong in Houston and Dallas in particular, with doubts arising whether the road network can keep up with these rapid developments. In Dallas and Houston, many billions of dollars are being pumped into the road network.

Toll roads

In Texas, the highways were initially built toll-free. Texas’ first highways, the Gulf Freeway (I-45) and Central Expressway (US 75), were toll-free. Toll-free Interstate Highways were built on a large scale during the 1960s. Texas’ first toll roads (freeways) were built in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The first toll road was the Dallas – Fort Worth Turnpike ( I-30 ) which opened in 1957. However, money became available from 1956 through the Interstate Highway program, which resulted in few toll roads being built in Texas until the 1980s. The only major toll road was the Dallas North Tollway in 1968.

With the oil price collapse in the early 1980s, Texas had less money available for the construction of freeways. Oil cost $35 a barrel in 1980, which collapsed to less than $10 a barrel in 1986. This was mainly due to overproduction, and Texas is a major oil producer. In the 1980s, however, traffic increased sharply due to the rapid growth of urban areas. Various toll roads have been built since the early 1980s, especially in Austin and Houston.

The Sam Houston Tollway was built around Houston, a 134 kilometer long second ring road that is largely a toll road. It opened in phases between 1982 and 2011. Austin has an extensive network of toll roads, most notably from 2006. Austin today has the largest share of toll roads of Texas’ total urban highway network. In the Dallas-Fort Worth region , however, from 2010 a network of express lanes for which toll has to be paid is under construction. However, the first express lanes opened in Houston, on the Katy Freeway (I-10). A large number of HOT lanes have also been created in Houston by existing reversible lanes to be converted into toll strips. Since 2010, large-scale use has been made of electronic toll collection, on most toll roads it is no longer possible to pay in cash or with credit cards.

In 2011, the first toll highway in South Texas, part of State Highway 550, opened around Brownsville. There were already toll bridges on the border with Mexico before that. In 2014, the first toll facility in West Texas, the Loop 375 toll lanes, opened in El Paso. However, the toll on Loop 375 was discontinued in 2017 due to strongly disappointing revenues. This made San Antonio the last major city in Texas without toll roads, but toll lanes are also planned here. After that, only small Texas towns will not have toll roads, such as Abilene, Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland-Odessa, and Wichita Falls..

Due to the many large toll projects after 2000, an anti-toll sentiment started to emerge in Texas. Governor Abbott was elected in 2014 on a platform of the anti-toll movement. Many major road projects have since been delayed because the necessary financing could not be obtained. An investment wave started in 2015 with the ‘Texas Clear Lanes’ program, but it is unclear how this can be financed without tolls or tax increases.

Road management

US 62 / US 180 near ‘El Capitan’ in West Texas.

Most toll roads are managed by a Regional Mobility Authority (RMA) or TxDOT. Some RMAs have already been established but do not yet manage toll roads. In recent years, some toll roads and express lanes have also been financed, constructed and maintained by private parties. A major regional player is the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA), which is one of the largest toll road authorities in the United States.

Open road tolling

Almost all toll roads in Texas involve electronic toll collection (ETC), also known as ‘all-electronic tolling’ (AET) or ‘open road tolling’ (ORT). Tolls can no longer be paid in cash or with credit cards at these places, but a transponder is required. The major transponders in Texas are TxDOT’s TxTAG (particularly Austin area), the NTTA ‘s TollTag around Dallas-Fort Worth, and the EZ TAG around Houston. These transponders are compatible with each other, and sometimes they can be used in neighboring states (mainly Oklahoma ). Vehicles without a transponder are sent a (higher) bill at home, this is called ZipCash (to ZIP code, the zip codes in the United States). For a long time, however, this was not the case for the toll roads managed by the Harris County Toll Road Authority in the Houston area, where vehicles without a transponder were automatically in violation and fined. In 2016, the option to pay the toll afterwards before it becomes a violation was introduced.

A critical point for toll road authorities is drivers without transponders who fail to pay their bills. Within the network of the NTTA in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, more than 7% of the vehicles paid no toll in 2013, so-called “unpursueables” for which the toll bills are not paid. In the Houston area, 1.2% of the transactions were involved. A trend since 2010 is to make the names of persistent offenders public. This is often broadcast by TV stations. These are often people who have used toll roads thousands of times without paying.

List of toll roads

RM 337 between Vanderpool and Medina in the Texas Hill Country.

  • Chisholm Trail Parkway
  • Dallas North Tollway
  • Fort Bend Parkway
  • Hardy Toll Road
  • Grand Parkway (SH 99)
  • International Parkway
  • Katy Freeway
  • Manor Expressway
  • President George Bush Turnpike
  • Sam Houston Beltway (Beltway 8)
  • Tomball Parkway
  • West Park Tollway
  • Katy Freeway managed lanes (I-10)
  • Walk 1
  • SH 45
  • Walk 49
  • SH 121
  • SH 130
  • SH 255
  • US 183
  • US 183A

Texas Road Network