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Will This Toll Road Ever Be Free?

Will This Toll Road Ever Be Free?

For many of us, driving on a toll road is part of our daily commute. Day after day, those tolls add up, and you may be wondering “When will this toll road finally be paid for?”

It’s a question we hear a lot, and we understand why you’d ask.

Unlike city streets, county roads or state or federal highways, NTTA doesn’t receive any of the taxes or fees you pay when you pump gas, shop at the local market or even register your vehicle. In fact, NTTA doesn’t receive any tax funding for any part of its operations or road maintenance.

Without tolls, there wouldn’t be a way for NTTA to maintain the roads you depend on to get to work, soccer practice or the seemingly millions of errands you have to run each week.

Our road funding is a little bit like when you buy a car. NTTA’s road construction is funded through bonds we sell to investors. Like your car loan, we eventually pay off that original debt. But your car will need new tires, several new batteries and quite a bit of other maintenance (not to mention gasoline) during its lifetime, if you want it to perform at its best.

Now, imagine if you plan to keep that car running for the next 40, 50 or 60 years. It’s going to need a great mechanic and a whole lot of upkeep. And what if that car gets too small for your growing family? Did you save enough to pay for a bigger car? (In our case, think more lanes and extended roads.)

You may wonder why the state doesn’t take over maintenance of NTTA’s roads once the original bonds are paid off. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) depends on a budget that’s funded by the gas tax you pay and is approved by our legislature. The limited funds in that budget are already stretched to maintain the nearly 73,000 centerline miles of roads for which TxDOT is responsible. That doesn’t even take into account building new and expanding existing roads.

And consider the fact that tax collected for each gallon of gas you buy hasn’t increased in more than 25 years. Most vehicles on the road are much more fuel-efficient than they were 25 years ago, so people are buying less gas and paying fewer gas taxes.

That leaves a big gap between demand for quality roads and the money to build and maintain them.

In addition to road maintenance, the tolls you pay on NTTA roads fund our life-saving 24/7/365 Roadside Safety Services, which helped more than 23,000 stranded drivers last year alone.

Your tolls are also used to help fund future road expansions. In fact, no new bonds were sold to build the additional lanes under construction on the Dallas North Tollway and the President George Bush Turnpike. We’re adding those lanes with saved toll dollars in response to the booming population and increased traffic on our roads. Every toll you pay on an NTTA road is reinvested in our roads and programs here in North Texas.

It’s all to provide you with a better commute and a smoother drive.