NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid tolls has officials with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and statewide toll authorities asking lawmakers at the Capitol for help.
Time was set-aside during the Senate Transportation Committee public hearing in Austin to address the potential for new toll collection and enforcement tools.
TxDOT executive director Phil Wilson suggested the implementation of three tools to track down the top tollway scofflaws. “A vehicle ban and vehicle registration block would be extremely effective,” he told the committee. “Another possible tollway enforcement remedy that has been discussed is publishing a list of repeat violators.”
TxDOT wants the right to publish the names to the biggest offenders…something the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) already does.
Several states across the country, including Florida, California and Massachusetts, have had success with blocking vehicle registration and impounding cars of the biggest toll offenders. Wilson called on lawmakers to adopt similar programs.
According to TxDOT, the department is owed hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid tolls. Wilson said most tollway driver pay as they should and it’s a small portion of individuals who owe astronomical amounts. “The top 11-percent of violators account for approximately 80-percent of the $10 million we’re owed,” he said. “The top one-percent drives a big part of that. So you have 4,000 violators and over more than 2,000,000 violations.”
NTTA Chairman Kenneth Barr assured the committee that the penalties would not be applied loosely. “These would only be used against the habitual violators who have more than a hundred unpaid tolls.” NTTA officials say last year alone their agency lost more than $12 million in unpaid tolls.
Officials agreed that while electronic tolls have helped speed up traffic, they’ve also led to multi-million dollar toll losses each year.
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