Tolls to rise on Houston-area system

| Friday, August 29, 2003

Houston-area drivers will pay higher tolls starting Nov. 1, but truckers will bear a larger part of the increase than cars.

The Harris County Commissioners approved the increase Aug. 26. It applies to the roads that make up the Harris County Toll Road system, which includes the Hardy Toll Road and the Sam Houston Tollway.

According to the Harris County Toll Road Authority, most car tolls will increase 25 cents. However, a number of truck tolls will increase significantly more.

SHT Bridge tolls will increase from $4.50 to $6. Ramp tolls now run between $1 and $2.50; after the increase, they will run from $2 to $4.50 for a five-axle truck. Mainline tolls for big rigs will go from $3.75 to $5.

In addition, while cars will receive a discount on higher tolls for using EZ Tag, the authority’s electronic toll-collection system, trucks will not.

Mike Strech, director of the toll road authority, said in a statement that the higher tolls were directly linked to growth and improvements in the system.

“Our system has grown dramatically,” he said. “We have almost doubled the number of lane miles in operation with the 1997 opening of three new plazas on the Sam Houston Tollway’s south-southeast side; we now process over 5.6 million transactions weekly systemwide, over 56 percent of which are EZ TAG; and our EZ TAG program now manages over 1.2 million EZ TAGs representing over 550,000 accounts.”

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