NTTA is Slashing Its Ridiculous Late Payment Fees -- Sort Of

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As anyone who's ever forgotten to pay a toll bill or is capable of doing arithmetic knows, the eye-popping amounts owed by the North Texas Tollway Authority's top toll violators is mostly fees. As an example, take reigning scofflaw champion Melissa Martinez. To rack up the $153,046.47 she owed the agency as of May 3, she would have had to take the George Bush Turnpike from her home in Sachse down to its terminus at Interstate 20 somewhere in the ballpark of 16,000 times.

The absurdity of those fees is one of the many, many reasons it's so easy to bag on the NTTA. Typically, such criticism is met by the agency with threats to start impounding cars. This time, the agency has listened and is taking positive steps.

The NTTA announced today that it will revamp its system of administrative fees so that habitual toll violators will owe dramatically less than they would under the current system, which charges $8 on the first notice of nonpayment and, on the second, $6.60 for each trip down a tollway.

See also: Collin County's Kenneth Maun is the Only Thing Standing Between the NTTA and Your Car

The new fees: $10 for the first notice, $25 for the second, and $29 if it's sent to collections.

This means that those well-intentioned folks whose toll bill gets lost in the mail will pay a bit more. But those absurd, six-figure fees will be slightly less absurd. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram gives the hypothetical example of a driver who takes 120 trips on NTTA roads without paying. Under the old system, he'd owe $1,109.70. Under the new regime, it's $425.50.

Try not to be too grateful, which would be a bit like thanking the executioner for being gentle with the needle. The NTTA is simply swapping one stick (fees) for another (blocking vehicle registrations).

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James080 topcommenter

Gotta love the NTTA.  They leave the barn door open, then wonder why the horses wander about on the ranch. Then they get all Guido and loan shark unpaid balances. NTTA past due fees make title and pay-day loans look like good financing options. Finally, NTTA sloughs off collection enforcement to county tax offices. What a cool racket. 

Look, I don't excuse toll dead-beats, I have my toll tag and pay for my road use. But NTTA's business model seems to be designed to invite violation so they can tack on astronomical late fees, then NTTA demands others agencies enforce their collection options. All the while NTTA funnels agency contracts to legacy contractor at inflated rates. I suppose it's just damned expensive running a corrupt agency these days....

ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Oh the NTTA,  I got a bill in the mail 45 days ago.  I go online to pay and it says nothing exists.  I call and get told they do not have that invoice id in the system.  Ok, yesterday I get a pink notice in the mail that I owe tolls from the tolls that didnt exist.  I go online to try to pay, and nothing comes up again.  I call and get the same reply.  What a fucking joke.  They better not be coming for my car... asshats


This is 100% about refusal to raise the Gas tax.  Politicians know that raising the gas tax is the third rail and career suicide.  So they approve contracts for toll roads which don't require the same political sacrifice and barely make the news.

The secondary effect is how toll roads creat social, economic, and race boundries in our cities.  Don't see a lot of poor folks or minorities going north into Frisco or along Sachse area (unless they are cleaning house or mowing lawns) b/c they can't afford $5 bucks every time they leave their house. 


The Dallas North Tollway has been paid off. End the fucking tolls. Dallas doesn't need to be paying for roads in Collin or Denton Counties.

Montemalone topcommenter

Do ya'll remember way back in the 70s when I-30 was called the DFW Turnpike and was limited access and charged tolls? When the road was paid for, the tolls went away.

Dallas North Tollway used to be a quarter, now it's 5 bucks.


Monte is correct, as is Tim. If you take a toll road then expect to pay, or pay the consequences. If you don't want a toll road, then figure out how to pay for the highway some other way. Existing funding sources are simply insufficient to rebuild all our fifty year old highways AND build new ones too.


I'm another one of those people who has gotten a toll tag to make paying the bill easier. And, when I could not afford tolls, I did not take toll roads.

The thing is, these people with ridiculously high bills can not claim they are ignorant of the requirement to pay the tolls. And, as Montemalone said, there are other ways to get where these people are going. They choose not to pay the tolls. I have no problem with taking their vehicles and driver's license away when it gets over $5000.

ChrisYu topcommenter

rather than target the irresponsible, they threaten everyone equally.

Montemalone topcommenter

What about us poor fools who buy a sticker and fork over a credit card number to pay to use the tollway?

If you don't want to pay, don't get on.

There are other roads.

Oh, and if you don't like tollways, quit electing all the assfucks that refuse to raise the gas tax and use the money to build and maintain roads.

scottindallas topcommenter

@Anon existing funding is insufficient for toll operation.  We guarantee the investors that they will make a profit.  IF we have that kind of money, then we can indeed afford to do it ourselves cheaper.  This is gov't upside down.  The gov't should be in utilities markets, and roads, military, banking, electricity, water, major healthcare are all utilties, but we've been privatizing them.  And, the free market should be gov't free, but that's where it's going.  It does both of these things, too much in one arena and too little in another simply for crony capitalism.  In fact, TXDOT can build a highway for less than we can contract it out for.  

scottindallas topcommenter

@Montemalone I don't know.  I have basically zero need.  9 months ago, I was trying to get around the Inwood/LBJ area, and with all the construction couldn't avoid getting on for a minute.  I have no toll tags, and never got a bill for my one incursion.  I wonder what happened.  It really wouldn't even be justifiable to send a bill, as that would cost more than it would hope to collect.


Scott, you are entirely correct as well. I lost count of how many different funding mechanisms were introduced in this year's legislative session. The legislature killed all but the least effective measures. Raising the gas tax alone won't get us where we need to be, but a combination of measures will certainly get us a lot closer. Repeal the gas tax and replace it with a sales tax (that accounts for inflation), apply at least a portion of the incremental increase in vehicle sales taxes to highways, increase the registration and inspection fees - these are the kinds of measures that combined might give TxDOT the ability to build a highway. The least expensive way to build a highway is for TxDOT to do it.

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@scottindallas @Anon 

But then beast doesn't get fed in all of the churning of loot and those job creators won't be able to create jobs.

There is just too much money at stake to not take an obscene profit from huge public works type projects.

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