Opinions by Joe B. Hewitt


Comments Welcomed.

































Quit Feeding the Toll Troll

NTTA has announced that it will increase toll rates July 1, 2015, from 16.16 to 17.06 cents per mile for TollTag drivers, while other users pay 50 per cent more.

This action comes shortly after the Texas House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that requires the Texas Department of Transportation to come up with a plan to eliminate all toll roads in Texas.

Toll road authorities don't die easily. Remember the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike? The toll takers fought tooth and toenail to keep it a toll road, but public opinion forced the State to do as it had promised and revert the turnpike back to public, free use. Now, it's I-30, and traffic moves smoothly.

New public highways cost lots of money, so do toll roads. The bureaucracy is cumbersome and wasteful, that's true, but so is the toll road quasi-bureaucracy.

It costs lots of money to maintain highways. Does it cost less if you funnel that money through a toll road entity? No. Rather, it costs more, because the toll troll takes a cut.

The toll road authorities have to be paid out of the tolls. The giant cumbersome electronic monitoring and charging apparatus has to be paid for and maintained. The money collecting apparatus that threatens toll debtors with fines, operates with the power of a governmental entity. All that costs money that public highways do not.

Financing the Interstate Highway System was an ideal of equitable taxation. A per-pound tax on tires paid to build the roads and was supposed to pay for maintaining them. Gasoline taxes are another equitable way of paying for the roads. With those financing methods, the people who use the roads pay their fair share. Those who don't use them don't have to pay.

If your car gets 20 miles per gallon, and gasoline is $3.00 a gallon, one mile of fuel will cost you 14 cents. Much of the cost of that fuel is tax. You also pay tax on your tires. When you buy a car, you pay tax on that too. If you drive on a toll road, add 17 cents a mile. You get some convenience for your money, but it costs you dearly. If the road became a freeway you could have the convenience at much less cost.

I say, let's keep the momentum going. Let's make all highways in Texas free.