(NA) Texas Toll Roads Question

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by ARFlyer, May 5, 2013.

  1. ARFlyer

    ARFlyer Pattern Altitude

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    I will be in Austin and Houston at the end of this week. I saw while planning my route that I will have to take toll roads to get to my destinations. However, toll roads are a very very foreign concept to me. I'm use to FREE roads, however, bad and under maintained.

    So how does a out of stater navigate the toll roads since most of them are "cashless"? Do I just need to avoid them at all costs?

    I will be in Austin for two days. I'm staying in Cedar Park for a concert, but my girlfriend wants to go bar hopping at night.

    I will only be in Houston for a grand total of 30 mins. As I have a Global Entry interview with DHS.

    So any locals have any tips on navigating your state?
     
  2. PilotAlan

    PilotAlan Pattern Altitude

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    If you don't have a toll pass, they will send a bill to the registered address of the car. Do don't worry about how to pay, they take care of that :)

    I cant help with the "how to navigate" part.
     
  3. John221us

    John221us En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Apparently TX just sends you a bill, based on your license plate or a tag on your window. In CA and PA, where I have used toll roads, you get a toll pass, which uses RFID, I believe (rental car companies will usually provide these on request) or you can pay at a toll booth (much slower).
     
  4. dweyant

    dweyant Pre-takeoff checklist

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    As others have said they will send you a bill if you don't have a toll tag.

    The bill is more expensive than the toll tag, but not by huge amounts (i.e. it isn't a fine for running a toll both like it is in some states).

    -Dan
     
  5. John221us

    John221us En-Route PoA Supporter

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    In CA, the first time you run one, they mail you a notice and give you an opportunity to buy a pass, not a fine. I suppose if you continue to do that, fines would be involved. I never ran one, but my COO did and that was her experience. She bought the pass and they deducted the missed toll from her initial balance.
     
  6. PilotAlan

    PilotAlan Pattern Altitude

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    TX does like CO, non-stop tolling. There are no toll booths, they just send you a bill. No fine, no requirement for a pass.
    They figured out that sending bills was cheaper than paying all the tolltakers.

    There's a discount for having a pass.
     
  7. Archammer

    Archammer Cleared for Takeoff

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    FYI, you can also choose not to use toll roads in your trip. Just remove that option from your navigation and you'll avoid the extra costs, and trade for time.

    :)
     
  8. ausrere

    ausrere Pattern Altitude

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    I don't know of any destination in Austin where you HAVE to use a toll road. You'll get to your destination faster if you do in most cases. Substantially faster if your route is I-35 or Mopac during rush hour traffic.

    They will send a bill to the address on your car registration if you don't have a toll tag. It's about .35 cents higher toll rate on average for each segment of your route if you don't have a toll tag. If you are driving a rental car, you'll get a bill in the mail from the rental company (or actually from a third party billing service) that will be substantially higher than the normal toll rate because of the large service fees they tack on, so be prepared for that. I've seen an additional $3.00 service charge per segment tacked on to those toll charges by third party billers. It's a racket for sure.

    If you are not in a rental, and you are going to be here for a while, I'd stop at one of the service centers and get a toll tag.
     
  9. DaytonaLynn

    DaytonaLynn Line Up and Wait

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    We have a tag for each Texas and Florida.
    If you are staying in cedar Park. You will be very near a tx tag office, just pick one up, takes about 10 minutes to set up.
     
  10. Doggtyred

    Doggtyred En-Route

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    The ones in Austin will send you a bill to the registered address of the license plate. If thats a rental car, that comes back to you eventually. You can get just about anywhere in Austin without being forced to use the tollway, but I35 can be pretty oppressive during rush hour. Dont plan on speeding, APD enforces and patrols the freeway pretty well.

    The ones in Houston area are run by the county, not the state (like in Austin).. and Counties are prohibited by state law to extend credit... so.. if you dont pay, or go through a cashless toll plaza, you will get a mailed violation notice for the dollar toll or so, and every 3 or so violations earns its own $15 dollar fine. In Houston, if unfamiliar, the best recourse is to avoid them altogether.

    That being said, if you keep some coin with you, the only toll roads to avoid are:
    Hardy extension from IAH to Hardy Toll Road - its maybe a mile in length
    Westpark Toll -entire length, cant think of any reason you'd use it.
    North Sam Houston parkway East of US 59/I69 east to US 90 (there are free 3 lane access roads all the way around)
    Fort bend Tollway south of the South Sam Houston Parkway. Cant think of any reason you'd use it.
    The rest have toll booths of some sort, that even if unattended will take coins.

    The toll roads that exist in Houston are the aforementioned Hardy, Westpark, Fort bend and then the outer beltway called the Sam Houston parkway/Tollway. There are free feeder/access roads the entire circumference of the Sam Houston except where it crosses the ship channel. There is also a few sections of the outer outer loop called the Grand parkway, and I cant think of any reason to use those either.

    Average speed in Houston is 10-15+ the posted freeway speed, with minimal enforcement. May the odds ever be in your favor.

    PM me if you need specific answers to specific questions involving Houston.
     
  11. Doggtyred

    Doggtyred En-Route

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    Just in case you missed it buried in my long post.

    DO NOT .... I repeat DO NOT.... run on Houston's toll roads without paying or having a tag. They will FINE YOU. $15 fine for a $1 toll. It adds up quickly.
     
  12. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser!

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    What if my license plate is really dirty? How do they bill me?
     
  13. Doggtyred

    Doggtyred En-Route

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    The cop who pulls you over for an obscured plate will ensure your mailing address before having you sign your ticket promising to appear in court.
     
  14. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Hasn't happened in 20+ years of driving. Hell, I haven't even put my renewal stickers on my license plates in 4 years.
     
  15. ARFlyer

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    I'm only going to IAH. It looks like the Sam Houston Tollway from 290 to JFK is coin payment. Am I correct?

    Can you get a a TxTag for a rental car ? I will be renting from Enterprise as not to put more miles on my car.
     
  16. ausrere

    ausrere Pattern Altitude

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    Unfortunately no. If you have a toll tag on another car, they say you can call and give TxTag the rental car plate and they will charge your toll tag. But I've yet to get it to work that way.
     
  17. rsleeds

    rsleeds Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    That's correct. And in Houston, be sure you stop and pay. The Harris County toll roads (Houston area) are not like the Central TX and Dallas area toll roads as far as the "just get billed" option goes. If you run through the EZ Tag lanes, you'll get a bill with a steep admin fee added. The Sam Houston has cash lanes at the plaza you'll pass through.
     
  18. 3393RP

    3393RP Cleared for Takeoff

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    When they went to electronic billing in Dallas, the 700+ toll booth operators weren't let go...they found "other positions" for them. So the technology advancement which was supposed to lower costs did nothing of the sort.

    They also have discovered there is no law which provides for the scofflaws to be taken off the road. Right now the 100 or so most egregious toll runners in Dallas continue to use the roads every day...some owe close to $100K including fines and there's no mechanism to collect the money or stop them from using the toll roads.

    The legislature is considering a bill right now which would prevent abusers from registering their cars, this coming three years after the implementation of electronic billing.

    As usual, a well thought out procedure brought to you by the bright minds in municipal government.

    :mad2: :mad2:
     
  19. N2124v

    N2124v Line Up and Wait

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    Ask Enterprise, they have a way for the rental cars to go on the toll roads.
     
  20. Doggtyred

    Doggtyred En-Route

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    The portion of the Sam Houston you will be using does have coin lanes. The portion to the east of IAH DOES NOT have attended booths or coin lanes, but that should be no factor for your trip. I'm thinking one, maybe two main lane toll plaza's tops... for IAH to JFK to tollway to US 290.

    During peak times the coin lanes or attended booths can be VERY long. Some rental companies have toll tags on their cars and you pay the balance when you settle up. If a toll tag is good for Harris County/Houston, by agreement the systems in Dallas and Austin accept it as well.

    Good luck.
     
  21. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah: Fly. :D

    Texas is really, really big, and driving anywhere takes freaking forever.
     
  22. Gmaper

    Gmaper Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Enjoy it. In my little Georgia town and surrounding county the police cars now have cameras that read license plates and do instant database searches to determine if the tag is valid, the car has valid insurance, and the assumed driver does not have any outstanding warrants. I frequently see a PD car parked alongside US-441 and he moves as soon as he gets a hit. I believe that the system is fast enough to check every tag passing by. Last week the city PD "captured a desperado driving a stolen car".

    If this system works as advertised, I'm impressed with the computer implementation because I'm a retired software engineer and understand the mechanisms involved. It wasn't too many years ago that here in Georgia it took many minutes to get a response to a single query to Georgia and FBI databases.
     
  23. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I have my tags with me. They just ride around in the glovebox. We're supposed to put stickers on the plates every year, but I never do. If they run my plate, it will show that I'm legal, even if the sticker isn't on.
     
  24. N747JB

    N747JB Final Approach

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    But why give them a reason to stop you in the first place???:dunno:
    Put on the stupid little sticker and give the cops one less thing to pull you over for. :D

     
  25. tmyers

    tmyers En-Route

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    Put a bike rack and bicycle in front of the plates.
     
  26. RussR

    RussR Line Up and Wait

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    I read once that there was a toll road somewhere that took absolutely no measures at all to try to collect tolls from toll runners. The reasoning was that most people would pay just because there was a sign telling them to, and the amound they'd get back from scofflaws wasn't worth the effort of having an enforcement infrastructure to catch them.

    I have no idea where this road was, or if it's still the same way. But regardless of if it's even true or not, there's actually quite a lot of wisdom in that reasoning. (At least until it becomes public knowledge.)
     
  27. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Eh, I figure if they waste their time on me, I can let a fellow driver get away with speeding. :D
     
  28. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    DO NOT go there.

    Rental cars (including Enterprise) will add a DAILY "convenience fee" for using the tolls, in addition to the actual tolls. Even if you go through one toll both. How that scales to a daily cost is a massive mystery.

    It adds up really quickly, and for nothing.

    I got bit by that after an extended trip to Waco. Not wanting to chance an ATR-42 in thunderstorm season, I flew out of Austin, in a 737. The ONE hour-long return trip to Austin (on a football day -- I-35 goes right by UT) cost more than $100 due to that "convenience fee."

    I really don't like charging BS like that to the taxpayers.
     
  29. ausrere

    ausrere Pattern Altitude

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    We have a state contract with them that is supposed to exempt the tolls and we still can't get them to stop third party billing at the high rate. I've tried three times so far on personal rentals to have the tolls charged to my TxTag account. Haven't been successful there either. And it's not just Enterprise, TxTag isn't holding up their end of the bargain by auto-charging the TxTag account either. I would highly recommend people avoid toll roads around here in rental cars.
     
  30. PilotAlan

    PilotAlan Pattern Altitude

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    Yep, it works. My old department used them.
    At start of shift it downloads a cached and compressed dataset from the state CJIS, with only the exceptions (expired, no insurance, warrants, etc).
    It's not running all plates, it's checking against the local cache for hits only.