Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"It’s not about recovering lost revenue, it is about sending a message."

Central Texas have to pay up or pull over.

December 4, 2007

KVUE-TV (Austin)
Copyright 2007

On a typical day, more than 50,000 commuters travel up and down the 183-A toll road. A few thousand don’t pay. Now Cedar Park Police are putting the brakes on toll running.

The crackdown began Monday. There were eight traffic stops -- Five involved warnings and three people got tickets. Number of those stopped on Tuesday was not available. Some people, like Cedar park resident Dick Spicer, are a little uncomfortable with having the local police department involved in toll road business.

“I don’t know why they would be doing that, they have enough work as it is,” said Spicer.

The Cedar Park Police Department is being paid $200,000 by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority to patrol the toll road. The contract made it possible for the department to hire extra patrol officers to do the job. Authority spokesman Steve Pustelnyk says the partnership with CPPD it’s not about recovering lost revenue, it is about sending a message.

“Our main goal is to crackdown on the chronic offender,” said Pustelnyk.

First time offenders get a warning, and a bill, similar to this one, in the mail.

Those with four or more toll running violations will get an expensive ticket, about $200.

“We pulled somebody over who had 197 violations, those are the people we really want to find and track down and ticket if we can,” said Pustelnyk.

Commuters who use the toll road and pay, like Dr. Jeff Swanson, are glad to see the crackdown take place.

“I think they should pay, obviously everybody else is paying and I think they should be paying just like I am,” said Swanson.

But others like Katie Pittman, have a mixed opinion about the crackdown. .

“I don’t think it is appropriate for the Cedar Park Police to be enforcing that, I do love the toll roads though, I think they should have people from the TxTag community to enforce that and that doesn’t seem like something Cedar Park Police should have anything to do with,” said Pittman.

Not every offender will be caught, but a record of each individual violation is kept. At some point, for each violator, eventually it will be the end of a free ride.

© 2007 KVUE Television, Inc. www.kvue.com

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