Saturday, January 06, 2007

"Tolling a road that's already been paid for by taxes should be against the law, if it isn't already."

Free Ride Is Over On Central Texas Tollways

Jan 6, 2007

Gregg Watson Reporting
CBS 42 (Austin, TX)
Copyright 2006

Drivers now have to pay to use Central Texas toll roads. That has some people are clamoring for TxTags and others protesting.

A group called Austin Toll Party is fighting to keep the roads free, at the same time others are paying for the privilege to drive out here.

Some say the toll road is a faster way to get to where they're going.

"I live up north and it makes it tremendously convenient to hop on the toll road as to oppose to waiting in traffic," Bobby Williams said.

Those who have not bought a TxTag must now pay. The free ride continues for TxTag holders until the end of the month.

"I'm going to take advantage of the month of January being free with the tag," Monica Hurt said.

But not all embrace the toll roads. Harris Harold is out on Highway 71 to warn folks about coming toll roads.

"They're going to toll this highway, if we don't stop them," Harold said.

And he's not alone. Several anti-toll protesters spread the word that drivers shouldn't pay for roads their taxes paid for.

"Tell them no, we've already paid for this road, no tolls," said Virginia, who didn't want to use her last name.

"Somebody has got to stand up and say, hey is time to stop, you are being taxed enough,� Harris Harold said.

Some drivers don't want see Highway 71 become a toll road.

"Tolling a road that's already been paid for by taxes should be against the law, if it isn�t already," Joe Nichols said.

What some call highway robbery, others call convenient--even if they have to pay for it.

The tolls that kicked in Saturday morning are for Phase One. Tolling on Phase Two of the turnpike project is still open to public debate.

There are two public hearings coming up. The first is next Wednesday at LBJ High School, then Thursday at Kyle City Hall.

Most of the tolls cost 50 cents each way, but that price jumps to a $1.50 at the toll plazas along Highway 130.

© 2007 CBS Stations Group of Texas: