Toll road fee increases on the way

September 4, 2012 2:47:45 PM PDT
If you use Harris County's toll roads, starting this weekend, it will cost you more. We're hearing mixed reaction from drivers about the new toll fees, but most drivers are questioning whether the increase is really necessary.

Toll road customer Elmer Diaz asked, "Are they doing more maintenance, are they expanding, or is it just another fee that we are going to be paying as citizens?"

Diaz is one of several drivers we talked to who is speaking out about the new toll fee increases that kick in Saturday.

Beginning September 8, EZ Tag drivers who normally take the Sam Houston Tollway, Westpark Tollway, Hardy toll road or one toll plaza on the Fort Bend Parkway will see the toll fees increase by 10 cents. That's an increase from $1.30 to $1.40. Those fees will jump 25 cents for drivers who pay cash, from $1.50 to $1.75.

Tolls on the Katy Freeway managed lanes will also increase by $1 during peak times. A spokesman from the Harris County Toll Road Authority says the new fees are all part of the county's rate increase policy. He says it was put in place in 2007 to keep up with the rate of inflation and to help pay for future projects.

I also asked the Toll Road Authority about those drivers and toll road critics who say a fee increase is unnecessary because the toll roads are already paid for.

"The roads aren't paid for," countered Eric Hanson with the Harris County Toll Road Authority. "True, many billions of dollars have been taken in over the years since they were built, but we are still paying on the debt for that. The county has $2.6 billion in debt. We had to borrow money to build the roads. Also we spent more than a billion dollars to maintain and operate the roads."


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