Mckinney Courier-gazette > News
From pocket change to pocketbooks: NTTA raises rates
Berenice Quirino/Staff Photo - As of July 1, drivers have to pay a higher price to drive on the North Texas Tollway Authority's roads.
COLLIN COUNTY -- Drivers across Collin County are already feeling the pain at the pump and can now add another stress to their quickly emptying pocketbooks -- higher toll rates.
The North Texas Tollway Authority is raising its rates again. This time the regularly scheduled toll rate increase will be up 0.8 cents, less than 1 cent per mile. But for drivers already paying 14.5 cents per mile, the increase might be too much.
The new rate took effect July 1. County Commissioner Matt Shaheen is already hearing groans from his precinct's residents, as the city of Frisco is landlocked by toll roads.
"I'm hearing quite a few comments about the increase and the necessity of toll roads in this region," Shaheen said. "It's not only going to affect Frisco drivers, either; you've got the whole system from the Dallas North Toll[way] to Sam Rayburn that's going to be impacted. As a reminder, the reason we even have toll roads is because the federal and state governments are doing an insufficient job at transportation. As a result, a greater burden is being placed on the commuter."
Shaheen said the average driver will definitely notice the change.
"The NTTA automatically increases toll rates every two years and implements it in the month of July," he said. "The driver is unfortunately getting triple-hit by tolls, state and federal gas taxes and rising gas prices."
But the NTTA said the increase will protect its credit rating, ensure NTTA low-cost borrowing, help deliver regional transportation projects and will help the agency battle its $30 million in debt.
NTTA Board Chairman Victor Vandergriff said the NTTA board reviewed the scope of the committed projects as well as the resulting debt load and determined that the toll rate would have to be gradually increased over time for the foreseeable future in order to maintain investor confidence and debt coverage ratios.
"NTTA has become the primary provider to new highway construction in North Texas," Vandergriff said. "The cost of this leadership position is significant and continues to grow as the authority adds additional projects. The automatic rate increase that took effect July 1 is the next step in the 2009 plan and will have the effect of keeping NTTA in the road-building business."
This increase follows a schedule that requires toll rates be increased every other July at a compounded annual rate of 2.75 percent. This incremental change is required to meet the financial needs of the NTTA while ensuring drivers see only small increases to tolls, according to a press release.