Thursday, January 11, 2007

Blood Suckers

Emergency Vehicles Charged on Toll Road

January 11, 2007

By Emily Lopez
FOX 4 News (Dallas-Fort Worth)
Copyright 2007

The new Highway 121 toll road is a major artery through the Metroplex, long-awaited and welcomed by many.

"I'm on it every day," said Lewisville resident Ramone Rivera. "Sometimes more than once."

Ordinary citizens are already being charged for using the road. Highway 121 has no toll booths; instead, scanners automatically charge a vehicle's toll tag, or scan the license plate so a bill can be sent to the owners.

But law enforcement agencies, firefighters and even ambulances are getting scanned, and the cities they work for are getting the bill. Several first responder agencies are so upset by the charges, they've gone to the Texas Transportation Commission with their concerns.

The commission plans to vote on a resolution at the end of the month exempting emergency vehicles, but only in certain situations.

"We know there are some law enforcement officers and some emergency vehicle operators that are unhappy with that," said TxDOT's Mark Ball. "But if they are on an emergency call, they will get to ride for free. Those who are just passing from one side to the other will have to pay –- as do TxDOT employees."

TxDOT says it has to generate revenue to maintain the roads. Others believe first responder vehicles should be exempt at all times.

© 2007 Fox Television Stations, Inc: