Thursday, August 27, 2009

"It's going to be outrageous." Dallas toll roads put the squeeze on small businesses

Small business worries about toll hike impact

NTTA vampire squid


Copyright 2009

DALLAS — Behind the counter at Sal's Pizza Restaurant, Chris Jakova takes care of his customers. But he's worried that his neighbor — The Dallas North Tollway — will soon be taking a slice of his profits.

Tolls are going up an average of 32 percent, with the biggest increast at the Wycliff Main Plaza, next door to the restaurant.

Right now, it costs 70 cents (with a TollTag; $1 without) to pass through the portal at the tollway's southern terminus. But starting next Tuesday, the TollTag levy at that location rises to $1.26 ($1.89 without).

"It's going to be outrageous," Jakova said, making a trip to the restaurant's other location — right off the tollway in Plano — much more expensive.

Right now, a round-trip to the Legacy Drive exit costs $4.20 with a TollTag, $6.00 without. The price is going up to $5.92 with a TollTag; $8.88 without.

"We have five people going back and forth from here to Plano, three to four times — sometimes five times a day just to get between locations — so it's going to make a big impact on us," Jakova said.

According to the North Texas Tollway Authority, the new charges are based on the distance traveled from plaza to plaza. The Jakovas are now thinking twice about getting on the tollway.

"We are going to have to take less trips to the store, take different routes," he said. "Obviously, we are going to have to adapt."

Some drivers will actually save a few cents with he new pricing scheme. On the President George Bush Turnpike, the fee at the Belt Line Road toll plaza in Irving will be reduced by a quarter.

Motorists who don't have a TollTag pay 50 percent more than the base toll rate.

The NTTA board of directors voted last month to increase the toll rates on September 1 "to maintain a financially viable system."


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