Toll rate increases in Dallas and Houston…let the gouging begin!

Surprise, surprise, while it literally takes an Act of Congress to raise the gasoline tax, it only takes a whim of politicians to raise your toll taxes. Whether it’s a public or private toll contract, they’re gonna raid your wallet, quite handsomely. With TxDOT’s trumped up studies insisting the government can a should charge more because their “surveys” have shown people would pay more to drive the toll roads, what do you expect? There is no longer any incentive to keep toll taxes as low as possible. Just like appraisal creep on your property taxes, tolls will start to increase annually at staggering rates. Why? Just because they can.
Link to article in Dallas Morning News here.

Tollway rates to increase in Sept.
Friday, August 17, 2007
By MICHAEL A. LINDENBERGER / The Dallas Morning News
mlindenberger@dallasnews.com

Driving without a toll tag is going to get more expensive for NTTA motorists beginning Sept. 29.

Rates vary across the Dallas area, but beginning next month, customers with a tag will pay a dime more than they do now at main lane plazas, while cash customers will pay a quarter more.

“Now is the time to get one,” said Rick Herrington of the NTTA. “Cash customers will pay 40 percent more than toll tag customers.”

The rate increase, which was approved by the NTTA board in November, comes just as the authority has begun a three-year transition to all-electronic toll collections.

More rate increases are likely, as local elected officials who set regional transportation policy have been urging the NTTA to adopt a more aggressive toll rate policy. The new State Highway 121 toll road, for instance, will open in 2010 with rates set about 14 cents a mile, and will increase every two years. The Regional Transportation Council has encouraged the NTTA to consider adopting that policy for all or most of its toll roads.

Despite the Sept. 29 increase, rates for the Mountain Creek Lake Bridge and the Addison Airport Toll Tunnel will stay at 50 cents.

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The Harris County Toll Authority actually explains how one’s tolls are stealing from you to pay for improvements elsewhere, while your fellow citizens who don’t pay the tolls get road improvements courtesy of your wallet! Tolls are the most unfair distribution of taxes, stealing from Peter to pay Paul, Robin Hood, graft…you pick the term, but you get the idea, all under the guise of your tax dollars at work! View the Harris County Toll Authority web site for the news here.

August 10, 2007
Small increase. Big improvements. Coming soon.
Don’t Forget: The 25¢ Rate Increase Takes Effect September 3, 2007
New Rates for Standard Two-Axle Vehicles

A detailed rate chart is available here (PDF files – 18.1KB), and an updated rate map will be available August 20, 2007, on www.hctra.org. Below is a summary of the rate changes for standard (two-axle) vehicles.

For the most part, the increases are 25¢ system-wide, but there are some exceptions. For example, entrance and exit ramps currently tolled at $1 will remain unchanged for standard (two-axle) vehicles. In addition, the Ship Channel Bridge rates will remain unchanged in order to bring mainlane toll rates and the Ship Channel Bridge toll rates closer to equal.

September 07 Toll Rate Increase Summary

2007 Toll Increase: The Facts

The Harris County Toll Road Authority is responsible for getting hundreds of thousands of drivers where they need to go each day-quickly and safely. Unfortunately, current tolls no longer provide the funds required to keep our toll roads in top shape and expand the system to meet the future mobility needs of our region. This is why Harris County Commissioners Court approved a system-wide 25¢ toll rate increase, effective September 3, 2007.

This increase represents only the third such increase in the Harris County Toll Road Authority’s 20-year history, a testament to HCTRA’s reputation as one of the most cost-effective, well-run systems in the nation.

What Your Tolls Pay For

Tolls collected on HCTRA roadways are used to fund maintenance and upkeep of the existing toll roads and to meet future expansion needs-without using tax dollars. All revenue generated from tolls is used to finance six major categories: operations, maintenance, construction projects, connectivity, debt service, and future projects.

In 2006, over 50 percent of toll revenue went toward maintenance, construction and connectivity projects, as well as new initiatives designed to enhance the future mobility of our region. Here’s a preview of what’s ahead at HCTRA to keep you up to speed:

Recent or Ongoing Enhancements/Capacity Improvements

  • South Sam Houston Tollway widening ($140 million)
  • West Sam Houston Tollway widening from White Oak Bayou to east of West Road ($9.1 million)
  • Sam Houston exit to SH 249: additional EZ TAG lane ($2.1 million)
  • Hardy Toll Road pavement reconstruction and widening ($21.6 million)

Proposed Future Enhancements/Capacity Improvements

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  • Continued conversion of cash and coin lanes to EZ TAG lanes
  • Additional electronic signage to better communicate in real-time with drivers
  • Real-time traffic cameras to facilitate better traffic management, faster response, and safer roads
  • Expansion of the Sam Houston widening between Gessner and West Road
  • Addition of two lanes to West Sam Houston Tollway, north of Briar Forest
  • Direct connector southbound SH 249 to westbound Sam Houston Tollway

New Projects

Thanks to legislation recently enacted by the Texas Legislature, HCTRA has the go-ahead to move forward on $4.5 billion in planned route expansions, some of which have been on hold for several years. These proposed mobility-enhancing new projects include:

  • Beltway 8 Northeast
  • Hardy Extension into downtown
  • Hempstead Highway (US 290) Managed Lanes
  • SH 288 Managed Lanes
  • Fairmont Parkway
  • Fort Bend Extension to 610

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