Central Texas agency approves program to waive tolls for qualified veterans

Under a new program, qualified veterans will have their tolls waived on certain area toll roads, including Toll 183A, starting in November.

Under a new program, qualified veterans will have their tolls waived on certain area toll roads, including Toll 183A, starting in November.

Starting in November, qualified veterans will be able to have their tolls waived when driving on certain Central Texas toll roads.

On Wednesday, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority board approved the new program that will be available for those who meet the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles’ requirements for the Congressional Medal of Honor, Legion of Valor and Purple Heart awards as well as disabled veterans license plates.

“I think what we’re doing here is a token of appreciation of what veterans do for our country,” said board member David Armbrust, who is a veteran himself.

Toll agency staffers will be crafting the program over the next several months and setting up an online portal for those with a qualified plate to register for a TxTag through the Mobility Authority’s website.

The discount will be for only one license plate per qualified veteran, and the plate must be connected with an electronic toll tag account. The program will only waive tolls on Toll 183A, 290 Toll and SH 71 as well as on the future US 183 south toll lanes and SH 45 SW toll road when those open. It will not apply to the MoPac express lanes because those tolls are variably priced based on traffic congestion.

The Texas Department of Transportation already offers a Veteran Discount Program on its toll roads, including SH 130 from Georgetown to near Buda, SH 45 N, SH 45 SE and Loop 1 north of Parmer Lane.

Later this fall, the Mobility Authority board will still need to amend its toll policy code to allow for the program. In hopes that the Legislature ultimately finds money to fund the program statewide, the board members also added a sunset clause on the program for it to be revisited at the end of 2021.

Over the next eight years, the program is estimated to cost the Mobility Authority at least $14.3 million in toll revenue, or about $1 million up to $2.5 million per year. The DMV estimates there are 347,000 qualified veterans plates in Texas.

“It seems like a lot of money when we thought [the program] would be funded by the Legislature and now it’s not,” board member John Langmore said. “Although I’m in favor of supporting our veterans, I’m wondering if this is the best way to do it and if it’s appropriate for the Mobility Authority to spend $14 million by waiving tolls.”

The program passed unanimously despite Langmore’s concerns. Board member Nikelle Meade said she is supportive of waiving tolls for qualified veterans.

“I thought about the dollar amount, too, and supporting veterans in the community rather than taking this approach, but I came back to the fact that the veterans are asking us to do this,” she said.

In 2009, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3139 that allows toll authorities to offer discounted or waived tolls for certain veterans.
SHARE THIS STORY
By Amy Denney

Amy has been reporting in community journalism since 2007. She worked in the Chicago suburbs for three years before migrating south and joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2010. Amy has been editor of the Northwest Austin publication since August 2012 and she is also the transportation beat reporter for the Austin area.


MOST RECENT

State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, announced Feb. 27 that his is exploring a run for Kirk Watson’s state Senate seat. (Courtesy Eddie Rodriguez)
Rep. Eddie Rodriguez exploring run for Kirk Watson’s state Senate seat

State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, announced his resignation from the District 14 seat Feb. 18 and will leave office April 30 for a position at the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs.

Cori Roberts, a member of the three-person Camp RATT council and resident of the state-sanctioned homeless encampment in Southeast Austin, has been homeless since she was a teenager. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
State to lease sanctioned homeless encampment in SE Austin to chamber-led coalition; plans for 150-bed shelter underway

Representatives of the ATX Helps coalition said they hoped to get the shelter up and running "as soon as possible."

The Travis Central Appraisal District will not increase home appraisal values this year. (Courtesy Fotolia)
After offer, Travis Central Appraisal District and Austin Board of Realtors at market data impasse

After the Austin Board of Realtors offered what it called a possible solution to an ongoing dispute over market data access Feb. 27, the Travis Central Appraisal District said it would not change its decision to use last year’s home appraisal values again this year.

Texas Sake Co. will open at The Yard later this year. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Sake Co. to open new location at The Yard in March

The company’s current location in Central Austin will remain open.

Austin ISD board President Geronimo Rodriguez (left) sits next to Superintendent Paul Cruz at a Feb. 24 board meeting. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD to develop superintendent transition plan, timeline

Austin ISD board of trustees released a statement about Superintendent Paul Cruz's resignation.

Central Health off East Cesar Chavez Street.
Central Health establishes new executive medical board as first step to begin employing physicians

Following a change in state law that allows Central Health to employ and appoint physicians, the agency took its first step to hiring its own medical professionals.

The Texas Transportation Commission will consider a plan Feb. 27 to add $4.3 billion to fund an I-35 improvement project through Central Austin. (Courtesy TxDOT)
TxDOT poised to secure $4.3B for I-35 improvements in Central Austin

The Texas Transportation Commission will consider a plan to provide the funding for the project at its Feb. 27 meeting.

Home Court Training Center has an indoor basketball court. (Courtesy Home Court Training Center)
Home Court Training Center now open in Manchaca community

The South Austin training facility offers classes and an indoor basketball court.

A rendering of Medical Plaza at Onion Creek
Medical Plaza at Onion Creek on its way to South Austin

A 36,000-square-foot development will bring a variety of health care providers and wellness businesses to the Onion Creek area.

A photo of several children cooking with aprons on.
Cooking, crafting business Pinny and Trowel open in South Austin

Pinny and Trowel is offering after-school programs, cooking classes and camps.

School of Rock is celebrating its grand opening in Southwest Austin. (Courtesy School of Rock)
School of Rock Southwest Austin celebrating grand opening event Feb. 29

School of Rock offers music lessons for guitar, drums, piano and singing and focuses on classic rock styles and techniques.

Austin ISD trustees met Feb. 24 for a board meeting at the new Austin ISD headquarters in South Austin. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Preliminary budgeting presentation shows Austin ISD could again face spending deficit in fiscal year 2020-21

The district is anticipating its next budget will include a spending deficit of about $16.3 million.

Back to top