TEXAS, USA — On July 1, the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) increased the toll rate from 19 to 20 cents per mile.
ZipCash (pay-by-mail) customers who do not get a TollTag pay toll rates at least 50% higher.
This led to many viewers asking about where these payments go and what the NTTA does with the money raised.
Does money paid through NTTA tolls go back into North Texas roads?
Yes, whether it be for a project already built or about to be built, the money paid through NTTA's tolls goes back into North Texas roads.
WHAT WE FOUND
The NTTA was formed in 1997. In 2008, the NTTA's board of directors implemented a "biennial toll rate schedule," meaning every other year on July 1, management would make adjustments to the toll rate.
“This incremental increase in toll rates will help NTTA repay $9.5 billion borrowed to construct its system of safe, clean and convenient toll roads and fund nearly $2 billion of improvements over the next five years,” NTTA Chairman John Mahalik said in a June press release.
The change made on July 1, 2021 was a scheduled increase.
The NTTA is a not-for-profit government entity, which means the organization does not receive tax funding. Only drivers who choose to use the toll roads pay for them.
So the money raised through NTTA tolls goes directly back into North Texas roadways, which Michael Rey said was a key reason the organization was created in the first place.
"We want to make sure that toll money spent in our region remains in our region," Rey said. "Whatever we take in goes into our toll roads and our NTTA system."
While some of this toll money is used for upcoming projects or maintenance, Rey says 58-60% of it goes towards debt services, meaning roads and lanes already built.
"We want to put the roads on the ground," Rey said. "To get the use of them now, and then we pay them off in the future. Much like mortgaging a house and paying that off over the years but getting to live in the house."
Tolls also fund NTTA’s safety and roadside service programs and high-quality road maintenance.
In terms of upcoming projects, one of the main things NTTA is focused on is widening roads and adding lanes to cut down on congestion issues, according to Rey.
This toll increase is also specifically for NTTA tollways. TxDOT toll rates on TEXpress Lanes are not impacted.