Toll rate increases stir up debate at Central Texas mobility agency

Toll 183A

Toll 183A

Two proposals to increase toll rates on some area toll roads were met with hesitation by a few board members from the Central Texas agency that oversees toll facilities.

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority usually increases toll rates each Jan. 1 based on the Consumer Price Index increase, which is 1.7%. Agency staffers proposed increasing rates by $0.01 to $0.03 per toll gantry to board members Oct. 30. The agency manages Toll 183A, Toll 290, SH 71, SH 45 SW, MoPac express lanes and Toll 183 South.

Ultimately, the board opted not to take action on any changes to the proposed staff-recommended increases. This means the toll rate increases will move forward as planned starting Jan. 1. The rates will remain the same on SH 45 SW and Toll 183 South. The board could still consider changing the staff recommendation at its Nov. 20 meeting.

The board also did not take action on changing its policy for increasing the base toll rate on the MoPac express lanes. The agency’s policy states it will increase by $0.05 per segment every year until the base rate reaches $0.50. The base rate will increase to $0.35 per segment Jan. 1.

Toll 183A


Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein said the agency has had conversations over the past couple of years about how to make toll rates on Toll 183A more equitable.

The Park Street toll plaza in Cedar Park has the highest rate in the agency’s system and is currently $1.54 for TxTag users or $2.31 for pay by mail. Drivers who enter Toll 183A at RM 1431 or Brushy Creek Road and take the next exit pay the same rate as someone who travels a much longer distance. The rate would increase to $1.57 on Jan. 1.

“Without [revenues from the] Park Street [toll gantry], we couldn’t have built [Toll] 290, he said. “The toll rate per mile there is significantly higher. Without that gantry there would be no RMA as we know it. This is an opportunity for us to readjust that.”

Board member Mark Ayotte, a Cedar Park resident, agreed and proposed moving the $0.03 increase elsewhere in the system and freezing the rate at Park.

“It doesn’t change the revenue model,” he said. “It’s just moving pennies around in the system.”

Mobilty Authority staffers recommended, based on analysis from traffic consultants, increasing the rate at three other toll plazas to make up an estimated $2.1 million in lost revenue: an additional $0.02 at Crystal Falls Parkway to $1.13, an additional penny at Lakeline Boulevard to $0.59 and an additional $0.02 at Giles Lane on Toll 290 to $1.22.

“Now we have a large enough system, and you’re talking one or two pennies, and it would at least show some consideration for the situation we have [at Park],” Heiligenstein said.

However, board member David Singleton said he was not comfortable with shifting the burden of increased rates to drivers passing through the Crystal Falls toll plaza.

“It kind of undoes what we’ve been trying to accomplish,” he said. “We’ve always tried to be fair across the board.”

Drivers wanting to bypass the Park plaza, however, will have relief in a few years. In May, the Texas Department of Transportation was awarded $75 million in funding to add the missing frontage roads to Toll 183A between RM 1431 and Brushy Creek. Heiligenstein said that project could open in 2021-22.

MoPac base toll


When the US 183 North toll project opens in 2025, the base toll rate per segment is proposed to be $0.50, Chief Financial Officer Bill Chapman said. The agency’s policy has been to increase the base rate in the MoPac express lanes incrementally each year instead of all at once, he said. The original base toll rate was $0.25 per segment.

“They will be connected roadways, and we’re trying to keep the rate policy the same for the minimum rate,” Chapman said.

Board member John Langmore and Heiligenstein both favored freezing the rate for a year.

“I have heard this more than a few times when [the base rate] went up a nickel that did resonate; [drivers] did notice,” Heiligenstein said.

The motion to change the policy failed, however, and the rate will increase Jan. 1.
SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

The Hyatt Place hotel in the Four Points area should be complete by April, according to the owner. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Hyatt in Four Points area slightly delayed, expected to begin booking rooms by May

On Dec. 6, Karedia said that due to some normal delays in construction, the timeline has been stretched slightly.

Byron Smith, left, and Tim Manson are planning to break ground on their new storage business called XSpace in late January. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Australian businessmen betting on success of innovative storage model in western Travis County

A primary difference between their model and more traditional storage models, they say, is the fact that their units are for sale and not for rent. But there are other differences.

The Microtel Inn and Suites is located in Southeast Austin, only a 4.5-mile drive from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. (COURTESY GOOGLE MAPS)
City Council eyes $6.8 million purchase of 71-room hotel in Southeast Austin for second homeless shelter conversion

The Microtel Inn and Suites is a 4.5 mile drive from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Following allegations that an assistant chief used racist and homophobic language, the Austin Police Department may have to suspend future cadet classes. Austin City Council supported an investigation into the department at a Dec. 5 meeting. (Courtesy Austin Police Department)
Austin City Council supports expansive investigation into police department culture and training, likely suspends one future cadet class

The move follows allegations that a former high-ranking officers regularly used racial slurs throughout his career with no recourse from department leaders.

Residents in District 10 look over proposed zoning map during a meeting in October. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
City Council will hear thoughts from residents on comprehensive revision to land use rules at weekend hearing

City Council will take its first of three votes on the land development code revision Dec. 9.

Sarah House, a Wells Fargo Securities senior economist and director, speaks at the Austin Chamber of Commerce's annual economic outlook, held Dec. 5 at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Economic analyst: Austin economy still strong, but growth has tapered off heading into 2020

At the Austin Chamber of Commerce's annual economic outlook, Sarah House of Wells Fargo said Austin faces challenges of affordability and a tight labor market.

Signage is up at the new SPENGA coming to the Lakeline area. (Denise Seiler/Community Impact Newspaper)
SPENGA to open first Austin-area studio near Lakeline Mall

SPENGA—a fitness studio that incorporates spin, strength training and yoga into a high-intensity 60-minute workout—is building its first studio in the Austin area.

A "closed" sign is in the window of the door at the Texas Land and Cattle Steakhouse east of Lakeline Mall. (Denise Seiler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Land and Cattle Steakhouse near Lakeline closes

The Texas Land and Cattle Steakhouse, which was east of Lakeline Mall at 14010 Hwy. 183, Bldg. B, Austin, has closed.

Courtesy Fotolia
City Council wants to know whether some public drinking prohibitions are equitable

The city of Austin allows the public consumption of alcohol except in six designated areas.

Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty in May addressed constituents in Bee Cave regarding the $23 million Bee Creek Sports Complex. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Longtime Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty will not seek re-election following end of current term

Daugherty has served western Travis County for the last 14 years, with terms from 2002-2008 and 2013 to the present.

The city of Austin authorized the purchase of a Rodeway Inn at 2711 S. I-35 on Nov. 14. The city plans to convert the property into a homeless shelter. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
City staff must be more transparent as city moves toward motel shelter strategy, Austin City Council says

Austin City Council is preparing to purchase another motel for conversion into a homeless shelter, but urged staff to be more transparent as motels are chosen.

A Dell Children's Medical Center mobile clinic provides pediatric primary care services in North Austin.
Dell Children’s launches mobile pediatric care clinic in Northwest Austin

Dell Children’s Medical Center on Dec. 3 began providing pediatric primary care services out of a mobile clinic in a partnership with Texas Women, Infants, and Children.

Back to top