Each year, tolls on roads operated by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority are increased to keep up with inflation. The mobility authority ties those increases to inflation—specifically, the consumer price index, which measures changes in how much consumers pay for goods and services over time. This year, that CPI increase is 1.37%, which means toll rates will increase Jan. 1 by 1 to 2 cents per gantry.

The mobility authority had an option at its Oct. 28 to raise the rates further, up to 2.3%, according to a forecast by engineering consultant Stantec in a report on financing for a project that would add toll lanes along US 183 from Leander to Liberty Hill. However, the board opted to stick with the lower increases.

"I have a concern about raising the rates beyond inflation, particularly in this economy. People are suffering," Board Member David Armbrust said.

The board also chose to keep the base toll rate on the MoPac express lanes at $0.35 rather than to adopt a scheduled 5-cent increase Jan. 1. The board's policy is to increase the base rate by 5 cents per segment each year in order to eventually align the MoPac rates with the $0.50 base rate on the forthcoming US 183 North toll project, which would see the construction of express lanes in Northwest Austin.

The new toll project is expected to start construction in 2021 and to open in 2025. Board Member John Langmore said the mobility authority is still evaluating the project along 183, and therefore, a one-year pause in difficult economic times made sense.