Toll road confusion could heighten with opening of final MoPac Express lane

Driving on the northbound section of the North MoPac toll. (KXAN Photo/Alicia Inns)
Driving on the northbound section of the North MoPac toll. (KXAN Photo/Alicia Inns)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — All of the MoPac Express lanes will officially be open by Saturday morning. Drivers can begin using the southbound lane at 8 a.m.

But, chances are — if you drive on toll roads across the Austin-area, and you don’t have a TxTag — something might catch you off guard: toll bills from different entities.

All this week, KXAN has been asking for TxTag toll bills from drivers who say they’ve had issues navigating the payment system and can’t seem to get the help they need from TxTag customer service.

We’ve been told that with so many different toll roads and operators of those roads in our area, the process is confusing.

One viewer emailed us saying they didn’t realize the two toll road operations were separate entities. So, when they paid their Pay By Mail TxDOT balance online, they didn’t know they still owed money to Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

Another viewer told us that after reaching out to customer service representatives for both TxDOT and CTRMA, she was passed back and forth from representatives of both operations and never had her questions answered by either.

There are three toll road operators across the region: the Texas Department of Transportation, CTRMA and the SH 130 Concession.

There are two key players: TxDOT and CTRMA. TxDOT collects tolls for sections of SH 130, in addition to its own facilities — Loop 1, SH 45 N, SH 130 and SH 45 SE.

CTRMA operates the 183A toll, the 290 toll, 71 toll and the new MoPac Express Lanes.

“There’s a statewide organization — TxDOT — but in a lot of regions around the state, you have communities that wanted to decide tolling issues themselves, so they created organizations like the Central Texas Authority,” Aman Batheja, political editor for the Texas Tribune told State of Texas In-Depth Host Josh Hinkle during a panel discussion.

Ben Wear, the transportation reporter for the Austin American-Statesman added, “Well, it will be interesting with the new MoPac toll road because for the first time you have a toll lane in the middle of Austin. So, there’s a whole lot of people who may have had sporadic tolls up until now. They’re going to be facing that option day after day, morning and evening. Even the people with the Mobility Authority have said we wonder what will happen after people get their first bill.”

Representatives with CTRMA say they just started issuing bills for the MoPac Express Lane, so if they haven’t already, customers should begin receiving bills for driving on the recently opened toll road.

Pay By Mail billing options are available for both TxDOT and CTRMA-operated tolls for drivers who do not have a TxTag. These bills are sent in distinct envelopes to distinguish between the two toll entities.

TxTAG handles customer service for anyone with a TxTAG account in good standing and travels on CTRMA and TxDOT toll roads.

For drivers who travel on CTRMA roads but do not have a TxTag or whose TxTag account is not in good standing, the Municipal Services Bureau, or MSB, is the authority’s pay by mail billing contractor.

Loop 1 is a TxDOT operated road. The MoPac Express Lane is CTRMA’s road.

If a customer believes they’ve received a CTRMA Pay By Mail bill by mistake, the authority says they should contact their tag provider — whether that be TxTag, Toll Tag, EZ Tag, or K Tag — for assistance in disputing toll charges.

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