For those who use toll roads it can be a love-hate relationship. The roads are promoted as a convenience, for a price, which certainly adds up for drivers like Jamey Paul.
"It adds to the bills, my wife takes it too, I can maybe take it one way, but she takes it each way, each day, and it all adds up, especially with kids,” said Paul.
Unlike Paul, there are those who don't pay, essentially taking toll-roads for a free ride. According to TXDOT records, 2016 ended with $41.7 million in unpaid tolls and fines on the books. So far this year, the tab has reached $12.5 million with a combined total of $54 million.
Paul believes there needs to be a collection crack down or , "make it free for everyone."
TXDOT issued the following statement to FOX 7 about the unpaid bills:
“TxDOT is committed to being a good fiduciary of resources related to the toll roads it operates. Allowing those in arrears on their toll charges to get away with non-payment is not fair to the tens of thousands of those who satisfy their obligations. Those who choose not to pay will continue to incur additional fees and will have their cases escalated to court.”
TXDOT got the authority to impound vehicles of habitual offenders a few years ago, but so far they have not seized a single car. There is also the option of getting county officials not to issue car registrations to those who owe money. But that hasn't worked out.
"I think if we solve the unfunded mandate part of this and the technology we would certainly consider working with TXDOT,” said Travis County Tax Assessor, Collector and Voter Registrar Bruce Elfant.
Being a bill collecting road block for TXDOT, according to Elfant, could cause longer lines in his already crowded office.
"Ideally if we were going to develop a program like this we'd want to do it in such a way, where when people came to our counter and found that they owed fines and fees or toll road fines that we would be able to take a payment or at least partial payment for what’s owed and release the registration right there,” said Elfant.
Having one stop shopping would not require a return trip to the registrar's office. But so far Elfant's idea has not gained any traction.