State Rep. Richard Peña Raymond said Tuesday he passed legislation to remove the toll on Camino Colombia, or State Highway 255, making it the first road statewide to have its toll removed.
Raymond said motorists were not using the 22-mile stretch that connects the Colombia Solidarity International Bridge to Interstate 35 because of the cost.
A private vehicle pays about $3 to $5 while a commercial vehicle pays approximately $5 to $20, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
“Starting Sept. 1, it’s free,” Raymond said.
Raymond pointed out that the Webb County Commissioners Court and the City of Laredo passed resolutions supporting his bill.
“Because we’re the No. 1 inland port, we experience a high volume in traffic. I think that by eliminating the toll at Camino Colombia, it will allow for commerce to flow more efficiently and elevate traffic in other parts of the county. I applaud Rep. Raymond for his efforts in this matter,” said Webb County Judge Tano Tijerina in a statement.
For Mayor Pete Saenz, this was “wonderful news.”
“We really believe that this will encourage further economic development along the Camino Colombia area. When we visited Rep. Raymond and all of our legislators in Austin this past January, we articulated this request,” Saenz said in a statement.
He added, “I know that it is very important to our Nuevo Leon neighbors and I personally want to thank (Raymond), Rep. Ryan Guillen and Rep. Tracy O. King for helping to move this amendment through. It’s a win for Laredo.”
The passage of the bill could also alleviate traffic.
“It’s also going to help tremendously with the Mines Road traffic because now all the traffic goes south (on Mines Road) to try to cross over to I-35, now that traffic can split up by coming up north and go down Camino Colombia because they will no longer have to pay a toll,” Raymond said.
Raymond added that not having a toll benefits the Mexican side in Nuevo Leon.
“They had indicated that they were interested on investing more on the infrastructure on the Mexican side, not only on the bridge and those facilities but the highways to Monterrey. But they made public statements saying having that toll road there just made it difficult,” Raymond said.
“Removing this toll road, we believe, is going to mean more investment on the Mexican side for their infrastructure.”
Furthermore, Raymond said he foresees investment and development in the area. With the increase in cargo traffic, more jobs will be created on both sides of the border, he said.