(KYTX) - More people than ever are now using Toll 49. The Northeast Texas Regional Mobility Authority, or NET RMA, sees this as a huge success, but will these user numbers stay high once fees are raised once again?
Former Athens firefighter James Camp has been using Toll 49 since the day it opened to the public.
"I take it from Athens, west going east, out to Lindale," he says.
Camp says paying a few bucks is worth all the time the road saves him each way.
"Oh yeah, 20 minutes!" he says.
He's one of about 29,000 transactions on the toll road every day. These peak user numbers are way higher than the number projected when the road was being built, but will these numbers continue to rise when toll fees increase once again?
When the NET RMA took over the toll road, the agency agreed to increase the rate until it was level with other rates across Texas, which is about 15 cents per mile. In the beginning it cost about 12 and a half cents per mile. In April it increased to about 13 and a half cents per mile, and in January it will increase to the final 15 cents per mile. After that, the rate is subject to rise every two years, equal to any inflation, deemed by the consumer price index.
"I think it's outrageous," says driverTonyy Casey. "I took it one time and I will not do it again."
He thinks it costs too much already and can't believe the rate will get even higher.
"I'll take the free roads," he says.
That is hisprerogativee. As leaders with the NET RMA have always said, it's your choice. You only pay the rate if you take the toll road.
"You make a decision," Camp says. "You can either pay it or go around!"
Camp says avoiding traffic in town is worth the extra couple cents per mile.
Tax payers do not pay for the maintenance and operation of Toll 49. That cost is paid for by the toll rates drivers pay to use the road.