Many motorists have reported being billed hundreds of dollars in late fees for relatively small toll violations on the North Texas tollway system -- and state lawmakers are a step closer to passing a law that limits those dollar amounts.
A Senate transportation committee on Thursday passed SB 469, which was authored by state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound. The bill limits the North Texas Tollway Authority to a single $25 invoice fee -- regardless of the number of toll transactions -- for drivers who pay within 30 days. Also, a sliding scale allows fees up to $225 for second notices sent to drivers with multiple transactions.
"I fully recognize that toll authorities need tools at their disposal to deal with toll violations and delinquent collections. However, I have heard from more than 160 constituents who have seen relatively small unpaid toll bills balloon into invoices totaling hundreds -- in some cases thousands -- of dollars," Nelson said.
Supporters say the limitations are important, as more Texas communities embrace all-electronic tolling, in which motorists either pay tolls automatically with a transponder device known as a TollTag, or have their license plate photographed and get a bill in the mail. The North Texas Tollway Authority's entire system is now all-electronic, meaning there are no longer staffed toll booths. And later this year the authority is scheduled to begin full-blown construction of a new Southwest Parkway/Chisholm Trail Parkway toll road from downtown Fort Worth to Cleburne.