Austin toll road to open early

| Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A portion of a Texas toll road will open a year ahead of schedule, but there's still time to take a free pass or two.

The high-tech Central Texas Turnpike System in the Austin area will be equipped with cash lanes and electronic toll lanes for a quicker way through and a discounted rate.

About 27 miles of the 65-mile toll system will open a year ahead of schedule, according to TxDOT.

Opening early are the three-mile Loop 1 Extension from Parmer Lane to State Highway 45 North; State Highway 45 from Route 620 to State Highway 130; and State Highway 130 from U.S. 79 to U.S. 290.

Officials are set to allow traffic to use the roads beginning Nov. 1.

In November and December, all vehicles can use the road for free.

Starting in January 2007, tolls will be charged for the first two axles of any vehicle ranging from 75 cents to $1.50, depending on a driver's on-and-off points. The charge will be slightly more per additional axle for trucks, according to TxDOT.

Toll rates for trucks will be officially posted on the Web site, www.TxTag.org, later this year, a customer service representative told Land Line Magazine.

People, including truckers, who act early and get electronic transponders to use the TxTag lanes, will be given free passes through the end of January.

TxTags that attach to the inside of a vehicle's windshield will be free until Jan. 1, and then they will cost a one-time fee of $9.65 per vehicle.

The TxTag will work for cars and trucks. The user puts a minimum of $20 into a TxTag account and on each pass through the toll road, the tolls are automatically debited to the account.

TxTag users will get an account card to add money to their accounts or to set up other accounts.

For more information, call the TxTag toll-free number, 1-888-468-9824.

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