Tuesday, November 28, 2006

'Out-of-staters' use Texas 121 for free

Texas 121 toll collection to begin

Nov. 28, 2006

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Copyright 2006

A free trial period for the new Texas 121 toll road in Denton County ends Friday — unless you happen to have an out-of-state license plate.

Texas 121 is the region’s first all-electronic toll road. Drivers are encouraged to open a TollTag account, so tolls can be deducted automatically. But Texans without a TollTag can still use the road — their license plate will be photographed and the registered owner will be sent a bill.

But the Texas Department of Transportation doesn’t yet have agreements with neighboring states to share vehicle registration information — so there’s no way to send out-of-state owners a bill.

The loophole will be closed soon, Texas Transportation Commission chairman Ric Williamson of Weatherford said.

“We think people are honest and will pay the bill,” he said. “If not, we’ll call their Department of Transportation.”

Several states, including Oklahoma, also have toll roads and would benefit from a data swap with Texas, spokesman Mark Ball said.

Letting out-of-staters use Texas 121 for free may not be fair, but it’s not a big financial blow, officials said. They account for less than 1 percent of the traffic.

The road opened in July, but motorists have paid no toll while state officials tested equipment.
Paying the toll

Toll rates effective Friday for Texas 121 in Lewisville, Coppell and Carrollton:

75 cents per full trip for TollTags users.

$1 per full trip, plus a handling fee of $1 a month, for non-TollTag users. The bill is sent monthly to a vehicle’s owner.

Tractor-trailers and other large vehicles will be charged higher rates.

Cars that use only a portion of the road, determined by which entrance or exit ramps they use, will be billed only for that amount.

For more information, see www.texas121.org

To get a TollTag, go online to www.ntta.org or call 972-818-NTTA.
SOURCES: Texas Department of Transportation, North Texas Tollway Authority Gordon Dickson, 817-685-3816

© 2006 Fort Worth Star-Telegram: www.dfw.com