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Old 08-28-2011, 11:11 AM
 
10 posts, read 37,224 times
Reputation: 17
Default How do the Toll roads work?

Hi Guys -

I've just arrived in Houston - transplant from NY.

This will sound a bit silly

Was driving around last night (seems the best way to get a sense for the sheer size of the city!) and wanted to go west on I-10 from downtown...but started seeing signs for "EZ Tag Only" ... a bit later I saw sign for another tollway that said the same...

I'll surely get one of those devices, but in the meantime, going from downtown west to Katy, can you pay cash at a tollbooth or are you just not allowed to drive on these roads until you have a device?
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:17 AM
 
Location: Katy,Tx
29 posts, read 59,345 times
Reputation: 26
no toll road on i-10 is eztag only. if you go on there they will mail you a ticket. if it is rush hour and you have 2 or more people in car then you can go in hov lane. best thing to do is get eztag but that toll is pricey heading from 610 out to katy or vice versa. welcome to houston btw! get ready for the heat. fortunately fall is coming and it is the best time of year down here.

Last edited by 51gator50; 08-28-2011 at 11:19 AM.. Reason: add content
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:29 AM
 
Location: Sugar Land
1,916 posts, read 2,196,630 times
Reputation: 2053
Toll Roads = A great example of Houston citizens being screwed by our own Government and Corp. America. Use our TAX money to build private roads and then we get charged to use them. How skewed up is that?
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:44 AM
 
Location: city-suburbia west...Houston, TX
1,229 posts, read 992,882 times
Reputation: 1359
You can drive on the I-10 w/o paying a toll, just stay out of the center tollroad lanes. Westpark is ez tag only, the SamHouston beltway 8 is a tollway but with booths. Go for the "Change made" booths. Some entrances and exits are eztag only.

We kept $1 notes and quarters in our cars until we got eztags. Note, you can get eztags with temporary plates. The staff in the eztag store (on the west side of beltway 8 just north of the I-10) are very helpful. You can do it online too.
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:59 AM
 
328 posts, read 716,853 times
Reputation: 187
There are plenty of non-toll lanes the entire length of the Katy Freeway. If the traffic is bad, you can opt for the "managed lanes" to avoid the traffic -- and you do need an EZ-Tag for those lanes or have 2+ people in your vehicle to qualify as an HOV driver. The toll rates for the Katy Freeway lanes go up and down with the traffic, so there is a demand-based pricing component.

The newer toll roads -- Westbend Parkway and Fort Bend Tollway --are EZ-Tag only also. The Sam Houston Parkway and Hardy Toll Road do still allow the option of cash payment (although the Hardy Toll Road connector to IAH airport is EZ-Tag only).

Go to the Harris County Toll Road Authority's website for EZ-Tag information (www.hctra.org). You can order tags on-line or go to their stores to pick them up.

Finally, you will find most people refer to freeways here by their name rather than the highway number. Don't worry, you'll learn them soon enough!

By the way, the multi-billion dollar Katy Freeway widening project would never have happened as quickly as it did if there wasn't the prospect of some toll revenue to help fund the construction sooner. We'd probably still be dealing with the construction delays today if that deal hadn't been done...
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Old 08-28-2011, 12:02 PM
 
10 posts, read 37,224 times
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Ok...so I can go on I-10 as long as I stay out of specific lanes...good to know.

Thanks for the welcome...definitely the heat is something I wasn't prepared for -- but the people are very friendly!
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Old 08-28-2011, 12:38 PM
 
90 posts, read 115,927 times
Reputation: 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by jalapenochips View Post
Ok...so I can go on I-10 as long as I stay out of specific lanes...good to know.

Thanks for the welcome...definitely the heat is something I wasn't prepared for
You just needed to plan for a winter or fall arrival and you would have been fine. Welcome to houston! If you have pets do not let them out for a month or so until the temps break or you will have vet bills in your future. They do not handle this well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jalapenochips View Post
but the people are very friendly!
Yes we are!
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Old 08-28-2011, 02:27 PM
 
1,170 posts, read 1,334,366 times
Reputation: 1202
Related question: who are the tickets from? I'm under the impression that they are not 'real tickets' and can't be legally enforced, though I do believe if you use it you should pay.

Is this right, or can a police officer show up at your door and shake your lunch money from your pockets?
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Old 08-28-2011, 02:59 PM
 
Location: League City
580 posts, read 518,667 times
Reputation: 304
The tickets are from the toll road authority for whichever booth you ran (Harris County, Ft. Bend, etc). The only way you can be arrested is if a police officer sees you running the toll. If you don't pay it, fees add up and I believe it can be sent to a collection agency. There have been stories on the news here many times about people owing thousands of dollars in unpaid tolls and fees and a constable will stake out a toll plaza waiting for that person to run it again so they can be arrested. Since they know what days and times you are going through which toll plaza, it's not all that hard to figure out when to sit and wait. Of course that has only happened on the extreme cases.

Also, you can get a TXTag instead of a EZTag. I believe the TXTag is still free and has a lower mininum balance and replenishment than the EZTag does. Nice if you don't use the toll roads a lot. It will also (like the EZTag) work on all the toll roads in Texas.
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Old 08-28-2011, 03:14 PM
 
286 posts, read 332,630 times
Reputation: 194
You also get a discount on some of the tolls if you have an EZ Tag versus paying at the booth -- I think it's about 25 cents less (this only applies to the plazas where they have people collecting tolls -- not the EZ Tag only lanes). If you're going to be using the toll roads often, then it's definitely worth getting the EZ Tag; it makes life so much easier. It is, however, annoying that the new tags are stickers so if you have to replace your windshield or sell your car etc., you have to cough up the dough to get another toll tag.

You don't need a tag for I-10 unless you're planning on driving solo in the managed lanes.

More info here: https://www.hctra.org/
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