Although rates are set to go up on all Harris County toll roads in September, officials say the increase will help pay for future construction projects, including several in northwest Harris County.

"All the toll road revenue goes back into the system," said Eric Hanson, media relations coordinator for the Harris County Toll Road Authority. "It can be used for maintenance and operations, future construction and enhancements to new systems."

A portion of the money collected from tolls will go toward the Hwy. 249 toll road project, which will begin north of Spring Cypress Road, and the proposed Hwy. 290 managed lanes project. Construction on the Hwy. 249 project is expected to start by the fall of 2013 and includes the addition of tolled lanes from Spring Cypress northwest to FM 1774 in Magnolia. Harris County commissioners approved a proposal in April that would install an additional lane on Hwy. 290, along with a two or three-lane managed lane facility, which includes room for toll and high occupancy vehicle traffic.

"The rate increases help pay for the Hwy. 249 project, which should be under construction by the fall of 2013," Hanson said. "Between 249 and the 290 HOV lanes, that's a $600 million commitment from this agency alone, so this rate increase really helps out these projects."

HCTRA is also planning to construct a direct connector south from Hwy. 249 to the western lanes of Beltway 8, Hanson said.

The county's toll rates increase incrementally every year, as opposed to a larger increase every few years, Hanson said. Commissioners court adopted the rate-setting policy in 2007, which allows for adjustments based on inflation.

Rates on the Sam Houston Toll Road will increase on the main lane toll plazas from $1.30 to $1.40 for EZ Tag customers, and from $1.50 to $1.75 for drivers who pay cash.