February 15, 2008
Toll Road Authority Will No Longer Rely on "Honor System"Cash Payers Should Have Exact Change Ready at Unattended Ramps.
The Harris County Toll Road Authority's Violations Enforcement division will begin electronically monitoring unattended entrance and exit ramp lanes with newly installed cameras. The first of eight new cameras went online Friday at the Sam Houston Tollway's Fondren/Hillcroft exit and entrance ramps. Cameras will capture images of those vehicles which travel through the unattended ramp lanes during overnight hours, and the Toll Road Authority will begin issuing violation invoices to vehicle owners as early as the end of the month.
Several years ago, the Toll Road Authority stopped staffing certain low-traffic ramp collector booths, for both reasons of collectors' safety and due to the low volume of transactions during overnight hours. The gates were raised at unattended lanes to allow passage to emergency vehicles. For cash-payers, an "honor system" approach was taken. These ramps were never free, and cash-payers were always expected to use the Automatic Coin Machines to pay their tolls. Some patrons took advantage of the raised gates, while EZ TAG customers were charged. "We realize this situation is one of our system's limitations," said Toll Road Authority Director Gary Stobb. "As a result of public input, we are installing the cameras and violation equipment. Now, you pay cash, use your EZ TAG or use the next attended ramp." In addition to the equipment, crews will install signs warning drivers about the cameras and fines when they fail to pay.
New cameras and equipment are scheduled to be completely installed by the end of February 2008 at the following locations: Sam Houston Tollway's exit and entrance ramps at Fondren/Hillcroft, South Main, Almeda and Fuqua. The Toll Road Authority intends to install violation cameras and equipment at all tolled entrances and exits during 2008.