Harris Co. toll roads about to be 15 cents cheaper after officials agreed to help out commuters

Nick Natario Image
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Attention drivers! Toll roads are about to be 15 cents cheaper
Harris County officials are giving drivers a discount on toll roads to ease the pain of inflation after a unanimous vote at the commissioners' court.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- You're not just seeing things when you drive on the toll road and notice lower prices.

During Tuesday's Harris County Commissioners Court meeting, one item that got everyone's support was giving drivers a discount on the toll road. Commissioners approved reducing the amount you pay on the toll road.

Instead of $1.50, it'll be reduced to $1.35. Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia pushed for the measure.

"It won't get overcrowded overnight," Garcia explained. "We already have an overcrowded system on some segments of the toll road. At the end of the day, I think it's good policy just to let people know we understand that inflation is with us."

Commissioners approved the reduced rate but don't expect to see it on the toll roads soon. The cheaper fare won't take effect for eight months.

"This will all take a while to take effect," Judge Lina Hidalgo said. "The goal is Labor Day. New systems have to be built. The community needs to be informed."

Commissioners defended the reduced fare by saying that with more people using the toll road, they can pass along the savings.

Another item discussed during Tuesday's meeting was the midterm elections because voters will once again head to the polls in a few months. County leaders say places ran out of paper and opened late, but an elections assessment was vague with its numbers.

The elections administrator told leaders he's holding back because of pending litigation. He released an elections assessment a month ago that was vague on numbers.

Hidalgo called the report "thorough."

"Is it fair to call it thorough two months after the election?" ABC13 asked Hidalgo.

"I trust it was the best report that he could produce with the lack of tracking that he inherited," Hidalgo said.

Another issue county commissioners discussed was giving about $5 million to the Harris County District Attorney's Office to hire prosecutors. The item didn't sit well with Hidalgo.

RELATED: Harris Co. election issues caused by short staffing, malfunctioning machines, paper jams, Astros win

Hidalgo called District Attorney Kim Ogg a bully, saying she gave staff raises when told she shouldn't. The reason was last year, Republicans broke quorum, preventing a tax rate increase. Because of this, agencies were told not to give raises. The budget office said the DA still gave raises, which cost about $3 million.

"One department decided to give the raises anyways and now is holding a knife, saying, 'You've got to give it to us,'" Hidalgo said.

Now, it needs money to hire prosecutors.

The DA's office told ABC13 in part, "We are also reviewing today's budget discussions very carefully to determine their overall impact on the operations of the District Attorney's Office and on public safety."

The measure passed despite Hidalgo not voting and Commissioner Rodney Ellis voting against it.

The DAs office sent ABC13 a statement on the vote saying, "We are appreciative for the continued support of commissioners Lesley Briones, Adrian Garcia, and Tom Ramsey for pushing to restore part of our funding at Commissioners Court (Tuesday). We are also reviewing today's budget discussions very carefully to determine their overall impact on the operations of the District Attorney's Office and on public safety."

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