Saturday, September 10, 2005

Consortium submits proposal to TxDOT: Texas 161 to be another toll road.

Toll road proposed to ease traffic

Sep. 10, 2005


Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Copyright 2005

A private group wants to build Texas 161 as a toll road parallel to Texas 360, giving relief to one of Tarrant County's most clogged freeways.

The toll road would stretch from Interstate 20 in Grand Prairie to Texas 183 in Irving and hook into the President George Bush Turnpike to the north. Tarrant County drivers would have a more direct route to destinations as far as north Garland.

The proposal was submitted to the Texas Department of Transportation by the financing firm AECOM Enterprises and Southern Gateway Consortium, a group that includes J.D. Abrams, Turner Collie & Braden, DMJM Harris and Maunsell.

State law allows details to be kept confidential until the Texas Transportation Commission decides whether to seek competing bids, possibly in a month or two. The final decision may take a year or more, leaving precious little time for construction if the road is going to help traffic flow at the new Dallas Cowboys stadium, to open in 2009.

The project wouldn't take away funds from other road work scheduled on Texas 360, including the Interstate 30 interchange, Division Street overpass and I-30 toll express lanes, officials said.

Gordon Dickson, (817) 685-3816

Fort Worth Star-Telegram:


Utah legislators to meet with Texas legislators and lobbyists who pushed the Trans-Texas Corridor

Utah delegation visits Texas to learn about toll roads

September 10, 2005

The Associated Press
Copyright 2005

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah delegation is visiting Texas to learn how that state has worked with private groups to build toll roads.

"Primarily, what we're trying to do is recognize we do have a tremendous shortfall, so we need to look at every option that's out there," said Sen.

Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse, who already has opened a bill file entitled "Authorization for Toll Roads."

The senator plans to have a draft bill to propose before the transportation interim committee in November.

"There will be legislation regarding public-private partnership," he said. "That's why we're taking people to gain a better understanding of the concept. This is something that you want there to be a pretty good basis of understanding. Whenever you're doing something new, you want to have a pretty good cross section who are on board."

Texas lawmakers recently passed legislation allowing the state to enter into public-private partnerships for road building.

The 14 Utah legislators will meet with people who helped facilitate those negotiations and with the Texas legislators who passed legislation allowing Texas to join with the private sector for road building.

Utah Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert also was going on the trip to Austin Friday. The Utah Department of Transportation planned to send three representatives, and four people from the private sector also were to attend at their own expense. The government representatives' trip was funded by a federal grant.

The delegation was to return Saturday.

Utah has one toll road, the privately built Adams Avenue Parkway south of Ogden. It is not a state road.

The Legislature passed a bill earlier this year that authorizing UDOT to consider tolls as an option on new state roads. The department is studying whether the proposed Mountain View Corridor could be a toll road.

Lawmakers and transportation officials say building toll roads with help from the private sector would allow new roads to be built faster.

The Associated Press:


Friday, September 09, 2005

PAC Group MobilityNOW is pushing Montgomery County's $160 million road bond.

Area businesses push to pass bond issue


Howard Roden
The Courier
Copyright 2005

Construction companies and engineering firms represent more than one-third of the contributors to the political action committee in support of Montgomery County's $160 million road bond.

According to records provided by the PAC group MobilityNOW, at least 24 of its 68 contributors are businesses with a connection to transportation construction or design. Of those 24 contributors, 19 are either prequalified construction companies or precertified engineering/design consultants with the Texas Department of Transportation.

MobilityNOW Chairwoman Nelda Luce Blair isn't surprised by the financial support from those companies because the bond election "affects their business," even in an indirect way.

"Of course, they're going to be interested in what happens here," said Blair, an attorney from The Woodlands. "But we also have other contributors who will benefit (from the bonds) by driving our roads every day."

On Saturday, county voters will decide the fate of a first-of-its-kind road project in Texas, euphemistically referred to as the Pass-Through Toll Agreement. Project's supporters contend the bonds will serve as seed money to ultimately fund approximately $360 million in local and major state highway improvements throughout the county.

Initially, the county will spend $219 million on five major state road projects, while the four County Commissioners will share in another $60 million for local road improvements in their respective precincts.

TxDOT has contractually agreed to reimburse the county approximately $207 million to either pay for construction costs, retire bond debt or fund future state road projects.

Although MobilityNOW released its list of contributors earlier in the week, Blair said her PAC group continues to receive financial support. MobilityNOW has raised around $20,000, she said. Blair said she sent out 5,000 e-mails and faxes to individuals and companies soliciting contributions.

"Most of them are previous supporters of elected officials in our area, so it was logical that they would want to support this, too," she said.

Two of the biggest contributors - Huitt-Zollars, Inc. ($1,500) and HNTB Corporation ($550) - are engineering firms with offices throughout the country. Some of Huitt-Zollars' projects in Texas include the George Bush Turnpike (Texas 190) in Dallas, the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Center.

HNTB Corporation is another major player in transportation engineering; with in-state projects including the U.S. 75-Interstate 635 "High Five" interchange in Dallas and the Dallas North Tollway. An official from Huitt-Zollars' Houston office declined comment Thursday, while no one was available for comment at HNTB's Houston location.

County Judge Alan Sadler said MobilityNOW intentionally sought contributions of only $275 to encourage individual participation. He is not surprised by the response from those companies associated with the transportation/mobility industry.

"These contributors understand the importance of good roads and they strongly believe in the road bond issue," he said. "The goal (of MobilityNOW) was not to spend one dime of taxpayers' money and we accomplished that."

With a $1,000 donation, The Woodlands Development Company is the second-largest contributor to MobilityNOW. Bob Stout, government relations consultant for The Woodlands Development Co., said the amount of the company's donation reflects its "interest and leadership" on the bond issue.

"Development requires infrastructure and the most important basic element of infrastructure is transportation/mobility and schools," he said. "This one of those areas that is of vital interest to a development company (like The Woodlands Development Co.) that has a long history of community development and support."

Early voting, which ended on Tuesday, attracted a turnout of 1,073. Blair said her committee would continue its media blitz with a full-page advertisement in Saturday's edition of The Courier.

"I feel real good (about the bonds' passage)," she said. "I looked at where the early voting took place and it was pretty even across the county. I will be incredibly disappointed if the bonds don't pass. I know of a lot of people who support (the bonds), but it would mean they didn't go out and vote."

A total of 20 polling locations will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday throughout the county.

Howard Roden can be reached at

©Houston Community Newspapers Online 2005:


"If this is a good idea then why don't we let the citizens decide?"

U.S. 281 toll idea draws fire, praise at hearing


Patrick Driscoll
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2005

Some people say they can't stand the idea of putting toll lanes on U.S. 281 while others say that can't stand the idea of not doing it.

Thirty people grabbed the microphone at a public hearing Thursday to give Texas Department of Transportation officials grief or encouragement, depending on who was speaking.

"I just can't begin to imagine that we need a toll road," said an incredulous Jim Shaw.

John Perez, worried about growing traffic congestion, saw it differently.

"I am absolutely scared to death of what will happen to U.S. 281 if we don't build something," he said.

Two-thirds of the speakers listed concerns such as the existing highway lanes being downgraded to frontage roads, double taxing those who use toll lanes and relegating low-income drivers to slow lanes.

"Don't take away a road already paid for," Paige Hidde said. "That's not fair."

One-third of the speakers said tolls are the only viable option to build new highway lanes quickly because gas taxes are spread too thin.

"The people who use it, pay for it," Maxine Bernreuter said. "What could be more fair?"

Some opponents called for a public vote.

"If this is a good idea then why don't we let the citizens decide?" Donna Mendez said.

About 280 people showed up at the hearing, which was held at Specht Elementary School to get input on a proposed five-mile section of toll lanes for U.S. 281 between Evans and Borgfeld roads.

TxDOT plans call for six toll lanes to be added to U.S. 281, eventually from North Loop 1604 to Comal County. Existing highway lanes would be replaced with free frontage roads.

Construction on some parts is expected to start next year. Studies estimate that toll fees would be 12 to 16 cents a mile.

The five-mile segment of tollway discussed Thursday would gobble up another 104 acres — displacing 19 businesses, impacting five acres of flood plain and 10 acres of farmland, and running across the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.

San Antonio Express-News:


Thursday, September 08, 2005

San Antonio Regional Transportation Leadership Forum draw protesters

Transit forum draws protesters


Patrick Driscoll
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2005

The Convention Center on Wednesday was the scene of two desperate but very different pleas about proposed toll roads in San Antonio.

About 400 community leaders and highway industry officials came to the kickoff dinner of the two-day San Antonio Regional Transportation Leadership Forum and heard a sobering story about how road projects nearly had come to a standstill across the state.

On a Market Street sidewalk, about 40 protesters waved signs, chanted and blasted a bullhorn while branding the forum as a cheerleading convention for highway interests who stand to profit from toll roads.

Ensconced in a dining room that was two escalators and several hallways away from the street ruckus, Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson laid out what he called hard-nosed facts.

The state's population is growing six times faster than road capacity, he said. The Legislature in the 1980s didn't plan for growth and even shifted huge amounts of highway dollars to other funds. Also, federal gas tax money didn't follow the nation's shifting population.

He pointed to a list of 20 San Antonio road projects projected on a screen and said there isn't enough money to do them.

"Don't be fooled," he said. "Don't be sucked into the world of the easy way out. These projects will not get built if we don't do something different."

The options are raising the gas tax by 50 cents a gallon for 11 years and then scaling it back by half, or selling bonds backed by tolls and other sources and inviting private companies to join the action.

State legislators didn't pass any gas tax increases in recent sessions, but they did overhaul laws to allow the state to sell bonds and partner with private companies to build toll roads.

"It's all within your grasp now that wasn't in your grasp four years ago," Williamson said. "It's time for us to buckle up and get after it."

Outside, speakers said toll roads would be a double tax to motorists and the biggest tax increase in Texas history.

"All people need to rise up and put a stop to it," said David Van Os, a candidate for Texas attorney general. "You're facing the height of arrogance. Fight 'em until hell freezes over and then fight 'em on the ice."

Other rally speakers were County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, tax watchdog C.A. Stubbs, Homeowner-Taxpayer Association President Bob Martin and San Antonio-Texas Toll Party organizer Terri Hall.

San Antonio Express-News:


Bipartisan group speaks in favor of eminent domain bill

Bonilla's bid to shackle land grabs gets hearing


Gary Martin
San Antonio Express-News
Washington Bureau
Copyright 2005

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of lawmakers spoke in favor of a bill Thursday designed to curb eminent domain powers expanded under a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio, would restrict the reach of local and state governments by penalizing entities for takings.

"It doesn't matter where you live, city, farm or suburbia, eminent domain abuses know no boundaries," Bonilla told the House Agriculture Committee, which heard testimony on the bill.

House leaders have vowed to pass legislation this year to mitigate the June Supreme Court ruling in the Kelo vs. New London, Conn., case.

Republicans and Democrats both have signed onto bills that would counter the ruling.

"I am a firm believer in bringing government interest to projects that are for the good of the public, but using eminent domain for private ventures is a slippery slope that should be avoided," said Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo.

The bill sponsored by Bonilla has 50 co-sponsors, including Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., the ranking Democrat on the panel.

It would prevent federal funds from being used on any economic development project by cities or states that use eminent domain to take property.

Another bill filed by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which also has bipartisan support, would limit federal funds for any state or local project that resulted from a private taking.

A companion bill to the Sensenbrenner legislation was filed in the Senate by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
San Antonio Express-News:


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Political Action Committe "Mobility Now" pushes 'pass through' tolling in Montgomery County bond election

Montgomery County is set for $160 million bond election

Voters to decide fates of future road projects

Sept. 7, 2005

Chronicle Correspondent
Houston Chronicle
Copyright 2005

Montgomery County has set Saturday as the date for a $160 million bond election for a variety of road improvement projects. Under the plans, the county would dedicate $100 million of its bond issue for the new "pass-through toll" program, while reserving another $60 million to address more localized road concerns.

•Extend FM 830 and FM 2978
•Complete the Lone Star Parkway
•Reconstruct Robinson and Rayford roads
•Widen Research Forest Drive
•Link traffic management system to Houston TranStar
•Complete concrete road repair in Walden
•Improve safety on Calvary Road

Source: Montgomery County Commissioners Court


The following are polling locations in Montgomery County for the $160 million bond election set Saturday for a variety of road improvement projects. Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
•Willis Community Building, 109 W. Mink, Willis

•Arnold-Simonton House, 905 Stewart, Montgomery

•Conroe High School, 3200 W. Davis, Conroe

•West Branch Montgomery County Library, 19380 Texas 105 West, Montgomery

•Panorama City Hall, 99 Hiwon Drive, Panorama

•Malcolm Purvis Library, 510 Melton St., Magnolia

•Lake Conroe Forest Community Building, 610 Navajo, Montgomery

•Needham Road Fire Station, 9430 Texas 242, Conroe

•South County Community Building, 2235 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands

•East County Courthouse Annex, 21130 U.S. 59 South, New Caney

•Cut and Shoot Fire Station, 14421 E. Texas 105, Cut and Shoot

•Grangerland Community Building, 15961 FM 3083, Grangerland

•Rice Elementary School, 904 Gladstell, Conroe

Source: Montgomery County Elections

Montgomery County voters will go to the polls Saturday to decide the future of road improvements in the county.

"I think we are at a crossroads in the county," said Montgomery County Judge Alan B. Sadler. "Congestion is only going to get worse. We have a distinct choice to improve roads."

In an era where the need for new road projects is greater than available funding from state and local sources, Montgomery County is embarking on a new method of financing road construction to keep up with growth.

County officials are banking on a $160 million road bond to build new roads, with a promise from the state to pay back costs based on the number of vehicles that will use the new thoroughfares.

"The biggest issue which led Mobility Now to support the road bond is that it is an absolutely cutting edge way of getting roads sooner," said Nelda Blair, chairwoman of the committee put together by Montgomery County Commissioners Court to promote the bond issue.

"Montgomery County is the first county to take advantage of it. All you have to do is drive on any road in the county, and you realize we need this."

Crowded roadways

Called the "pass-through toll" system, the county would pick up the tab for new roads up front and be reimbursed by the state, based on the number of motorists who use the roads in the future. State officials call the funding tool a "pass-through toll" because the state pays the fee instead of the motorists.

Montgomery County is experiencing a population boom, leading to congested roads throughout the county. The county's population has increased from 182,201 in 1990 to 293,768 in 2000 and is expected to double again in the next 15 years. The growth is expanding into more rural areas, and the road bonds will aid development in the more outlying regions.

"We don't have a choice," said Stew Darsey, president of the Greater Conroe/Lake Conroe Area Chamber of Commerce, which supports the bond issue. "It's a major step. Montgomery County has done an outstanding job in getting out in front of this."

Darsey said the proposal has something for everyone, whether residents use roads to get to work, move products across the area, drive children to school or seek safe transportation.

"In a county growing the way we are growing, we can't afford to get behind on our road projects," Darsey said.

Future growth

Karen Hoylman, president and chief executive officer of the South Montgomery County Woodlands Chamber of Commerce, said the bond issue is a question of economic development in the county.

"We feel like it is critical for the development of the county," Hoylman said. "We have to be able to move around."

The majority of the bond — $100 million — will be used for this new financing system, called "pass-through toll." It will target five major road projects in the county, including the expansions of FM 1488, FM 1485, and FM 1484; the realignment of FM 1314; and the construction of a direct connector between Texas 242 and Interstate 45.

Also included in the bond issue are more traditional road funding projects, localized traffic bottlenecks that need to go through planning to development. Montgomery County will dedicate $60 million — about $15 million for each of the precincts in the county — to address these issues.

Among the targeted projects are completing the Lone Star Parkway around Montgomery, finishing FM 830 from Texas 75 to FM 2432, reconstructing Robinson and Rayford roads in South County, widening Research Forest Drive in The Woodlands, creating a traffic management system similar to Houston TranStar in Montgomery County, rebuilding bridges in Magnolia, improving Fish Creek Road, completing concrete road repairs in Walden, improving safety on Calvary Road and rebuilding streets in East County.

The road bond issue has gained widespread support through different organizations in the county. Among those endorsing the bond issue are chambers of commerce, local cities and other organizations.

"I think transportation and mobility are one of the top priorities we have in Montgomery County, but especially in Conroe, the county seat," said Conroe City Administrator Jerry McGuire, adding that the Conroe City Council endorsed the bond issue.

There is no known opposition to the bond issue.

Boosting tax rate

With so much money at stake, the bond issue is expected to add 2 cents to the county's tax rate of 49.63 per $100 valuation. Based on 2004 assessed values, it would cost $27.24 more on the average $136,183 home, which currently pays $675.88 a year in county taxes, said County Tax Assessor/Collector J.R. Moore.

Montgomery County is the first in the state to use the pass-through toll program, where the state will reimburse costs based on the vehicles using the road. In one instance, the direct connector from Texas 242 to Interstate 45, there will be a traditional toll for drivers who want to bypass traffic backup on the popular thoroughfare.

The reimbursement from the state will begin about one or two years after the roads are complete. The state is expected to provide $174 million to the county over a 10- to 17-year period, and those funds would be used to finance a new generation of road projects.

Houston Chronicle:


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Editorial: Vote for legislators and local officials who are not influenced by special interests.

Take back local control

September 6, 2005

Editor, the Advocate: Re: Advocate story on the telecommunications bill:

It is encouraging to see our city attorney complain about the loss of local control over telecom services. I agree with him. It should not be under state control, which seems to no longer represent the people but only special interest groups.

I saw this firsthand in Austin in my encounter with these folks during my opposition to Senate Bill 3, the water bill. And now the Trans-Texas Corridor is heading in the same direction, with loss of control to special interest groups that control our legislators and indirectly our state.

On cable: I agree, Cox Cable needs some competition, yet I applaud them for their enormous investment in "fibering" our city a few years ago, making possible what I consider the fastest and most reliable Internet service in the country. However, I welcome lower prices the competition may bring, but let SBC enter on the same level playing field and keep state hands off our local control.

On water: In November, voters will have the opportunity to approve a groundwater conservation district to protect us from water export projects like GBRA's pipeline to San Antonio. The degree of local control will greatly depend on the temporary directors appointed by Commissioners Court. Special interest groups may infiltrate our district through uninformed temporary directors.

When you decide whether or not to vote for a local district, get to know the temporary directors and ask them hard questions. Temporary directors are most important as they will form district rules before permanent directors are elected in subsequent years.

On our local legislators: How did they vote on telecommunications, Trans-Texas Corridor and water? Were they influenced more by their local constituents or by special interests?

So, how do we take back local control? At the ballot box. Vote for legislators and local officials who are not influenced by special interests. Vote for a groundwater conservation district if you think the temporary directors are capable of maintaining local control.


The Victoria Advocate:


"The citizens of Texas have a right to know what they're being obligated to.”

Corridor critics, state officials spar over plans' secrecy

September 06, 2005

By Matt Joyce
Waco Tribune-Herald
Copyright 2005

The Texas Department of Transportation's fight to guard the financial details of the Trans-Texas Corridor has sparked a rallying cry for corridor opponents and resulted in a court battle over open records.

Corridor watchdogs argue that the state should make public its financial and development master plans with Cintra Zachry LP, the group chosen by the state to help plan and build the first section of a proposed transportation network that would criss-cross the state with roads, railways and utility infrastructure.

“This is the largest land grab in Texas history, and to not let the people see the financial details and the developmental details of this is unconscionable,” said Carole Keeton Strayhorn, state comptroller and a Republican primary candidate in next year's gubernatorial election.

State transportation officials counter that release of the documents would have a “chilling effect” on the state's ability to attract private sector ideas and capital as it seeks to build the massive project aimed at meeting the state's current and future trade and transportation needs.

Department officials say it would be unfair to release the company's proprietary information, such as how it would finance the tollway's construction or charge its users.

“The public obviously has a need to know,” said Phillip Russell, director of the department's turnpike authority division. “But internally we have to have some flexibility in discussing the concepts and proposals with those developers. The private sector is very competitive, and we may put them in a competitive disadvantage on the next project if we've already opened up all of their business plan. That's the balancing act we have to work with.”

The dispute came to a head this summer when Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled in response to open records requests that the state's open record laws outweighed confidentiality claims by the transportation department and Cintra Zachry.

In response, the state and Cintra Zachry sued the Attorney General's Office in 200th Civil District Court in Austin to keep the documents closed. No hearings have been scheduled for the case, according to a court administrator.

In March, the transportation department signed a “comprehensive development agreement” with Cintra Zachry laying out the basics of an agreement for the consortium to build the Trans-Texas Corridor's first section, known as TTC-35. The tollway would generally follow Interstate 35 from the Mexican border to Oklahoma, with a likely path through McLennan County.

While the agreement was released publicly, it does not contain the nuts and bolts of the company's plans to spend $6 billion to build and operate the Dallas to San Antonio portion of the corridor in exchange for a lease to operate the tollway for 50 years.

Corridor critics argue that the details should be visible to taxpayers – the people who would be held liable if the project somehow went wrong, such as if Cintra Zachry abandoned the project before completion.

Prominent corridor critic David Stall, co-founder of the group Corridor Watch, based in Fayetteville, said the size and scope of the agreement raises the stakes for the state.

“I think (the transportation department) will do their best to make sure that all the financial protections for the state of Texas that they can anticipate are included in the agreement,” Stall said. “That said, they have never negotiated any agreement of this scale or this duration ever.”

Stall downplayed a frequently cited concern among critics that the state treasury would be exposed if the project somehow failed. The 2003 law authorizing the corridor's creation removed such liability from the state.

But Stall said the state could find itself “holding the bag if the project were to fail or collapse.”

Department spokeswoman Gaby Garcia said the state would not be involved if Cintra Zachry chooses to issue bonds to fund the project.

“If Cintra or any other private entity were to issue bonds, it would be in their name,” she said. “The state would not be in any way, shape or form financially liable for those obligations.”

Strayhorn, a vocal critic of what she calls the “trans-Texas catastrophe,” said she is not privy to negotiations of the financial and development plans in her capacity as state comptroller.

She declined to speculate on specific financial safeguards that the transportation department should address when negotiating the contract.

“Any time there is any contract (in the comptroller's office), I have a battery of folks that look through that contract, and I share all this publicly,” she said. “I'm not an attorney, but I have good contract attorneys, and we're looking out for the public interest.”

Amadeo Saenz, the transportation department's assistant executive director for engineering operations, said the state will incorporate such safety measures. He said the transportation department will conduct its own studies before signing any deals. For example, the state will conduct its own traffic and toll revenue predictions, and will have its own financial advisers and bond lawyers.

“We'll compare it to what Cintra tells us, and then decide at that point if we want to go with Cintra or do we want to open it up to the market and go with someone else,” he said.

Transportation officials also point out that the comprehensive development agreement does not authorize any construction of the Trans-Texas Corridor. Rather, it lays out the framework for how the state will approach various segments of the project. The state and private developers will then negotiate the development and financing of each individual segment. And while Cintra Zachry has the first shot at developing the corridor's initial segments, the state retains the option to work with other private developers.

Mike Behrens, executive director of the transportation department, said the public will be able to see the contracts to build individual segments of the corridor once they are finalized between the department and private developers, be it Cintra Zachry or others.

He sought to allay fears of the financial risk by pointing out that the exorbitant cost of building highways means the state and private developers like Cintra Zachry will study their options extensively and ensure a project's financial viability before committing to build it.

"It's got to be built where a need exists,” he said. “We're not about just building roads to nowhere, just to go out there and build a road.”

Still, Stall said the influential financial and developmental plans should be opened to the public.

“There's no outside evaluation (of the contracts),” he said. “It creates a tremendous obligation on the citizens of Texas, and as the ones being obligated, I believe they have a right to know what they're being obligated to.”


Waco Tribune-Herald:


Monday, September 05, 2005

Raytheon: Automakers could begin installing special computer chips for tolling in newly manufactured cars as soon as 2010.

The next generation of Toll Tag technology

Windshield transponders revolutionized the toll-road industry.


By Gordon Dickson

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Copyright 2005

By attaching the wallet-sized cards to their windshield -- in North Texas, it's known as a TollTag -- drivers can zoom past toll booths without stopping to pay. Their tolls are deducted from an electronic account, usually backed by a credit card.

But if you think TollTags are high-tech, wait until you hear about what's coming next.

Automakers could begin installing special computer chips in newly manufactured cars as soon as 2010, according to Brian Patno, vice president of business development for Raytheon Highway Transportation Management Systems.

Patno's firm was selected last month to design an open toll-road electronic payment system for the Trans-Texas Corridor, Gov. Rick Perry's vision to crisscross the state with high-speed toll roads and rail lines.

Information: or (817) 215-8600.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: