Cops to Crack Down on Toll Cheats

Posted in Commentary, Road Issues, Williamson County at 1:16 am by dembones

KXAN is reporting that Cedar Park Police will be stopping drivers without TxTags who fail to pay the $1.50 toll at the 183-A plaza.

Those pulled over Friday for not having a tag said there were not enough warning signs leading to the highway, and part of the toll road accepts TxTags only, no cash.

Cedar Park Police Chief Harry Fluck announced the crackdown today. Left unexplained was the rationale behind diverting law enforcement resources from other priorities in order to help the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) collect tolls. Since the CTRMA is responsible for operating the 183-A toll road, taxpayers in Cedar Park should not be subsidizing the toll collection apparatus. UPDATE: No resources have been diverted. CTRMA has a contractual agreement with the city of Cedar Park to provide law enforcement services on the 183 A toll road.

It is not as if CTRMA has done everything they can to help clarify matters. Quite the contrary, their marketing of the radio frequency identifier (RFID) decals known as TxTag has created intentional confusion.

The CTRMA has created a carrot and stick approach to encourage Williamson County motorists to get on board with TxTags. The incentives have included a 10 percent reduction in tolls and an extra month or two of no-toll time as the roads open. The “stick” comes with a flashing blue and red light atop a Cedar Park Police Department cruiser. It’s a great deal for the CTRMA. The tax payers in Cedar Park foot the bill, the CTRMA understaffs or omits cash toll collection booths, and stories like this one on KXAN earn free media. UPDATE: CTRMA is paying for the law enforcement services, but the message remains the same: Avoid arrest. Get your TxTag now.

CTRMA has done little to clear up the confusion over when tolls would be required. Drivers are understandably puzzled. Before signing up for your TxTag, consider this: The free roads still go all the same places they always have. Taking long trips away from home on $3 per gallon gasoline should be painful. Perhaps that trip to Lakeline Mall isn’t really that great of an idea.

UPDATE: The reporter had incorrectly stated that the cost of this operation was being borne by Cedar Park tax payers. CTRMA is paying for the operation. Eye On Williamson regrets the error.

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