NTTA: Tollways aren't freeways, see you in court

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on June 20, 2012 at 10:05 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 21 at 10:15 AM

DALLLAS — The North Texas Tollway Authority is busy compiling a list of people who have racked up 100 or more unpaid tolls. About 25,000 people are on that list, said spokesman Michael Rey.

They owe a total of at least $12.5 million... maybe more. Rey said those numbers are just rough estimates.

"When we moved to all-electronic tolling, we saw numbers kind of bump up with drivers who drive along a toll road, and — because they didn't have to stop and flip coins in — they thought, 'I'll just go for free.' They've ignored at least 16 pieces of mail that said for them to please pay us," Rey explained.

"Ninety-two percent of people pay their bills timely. It's that percentage of people who decide that they're just not going to do it, we want them to be aware that ignoring it doesn't make it go away," he added.

So the NTTA announced Wednesday it will not only post the names of the top violators on their website in mid-July; they are also going to take the worst of the worst to court.

Until now, the NTTA could only pursue action through justice of the peace courts, but the agency's board of directors voted Wednesday to begin filing suit in civil courts.

"It's a change in philosophy," Rey said. "It does show our commitment to getting this money that is owed to the NTTA."

Outside the NTTA offices on Wednesday, motorists gave the announcement mixed reviews.

"If they're cheating and not paying for theirs, then why do I have to pay for mine?" asked Zach Brown of Plano, who agrees with the NTTA's action.

But Maria Mon of Frisco said she's been the victim of a bill mixup before, and she doesn't believe toll runners should be sued. "Their system sucks," she said.

The tollway authority disagrees, for 12-and-a-half million reasons.

Rey said anyone who wants to dispute their name appearing on the list is welcome to present their case to the NTTA.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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