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The NTTA Texas toll road experience

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Rates are going up.

In my time here in the Dallas Fort Worth area of Texas, I've purposely traveled certain roads just to experience them. One is the NTTA (North Texas Tollway Authority) system.

Recently, I made a long drive from near Plano to Fort Worth and back.

On the way there, I avoided the tollways, and from that encountered gridlock traffic due to some other motorist that got into an accident that jammed up the highway.

On the way back, I said okay, let's purposely take the tollways to see if the trip is any better.

From Fort Worth back to near Plano, the main tollway used is the PGBT (President George Bush Turnpike) before heading east and then picking up US-75.

When comparing PGBT to US-75, the only reason PGBT is any better is because it's much newer and has fewer cars on it at any given time. For the moment, that makes it worth traveling on. And yes, it was a faster, smoother trip back to near Plano from Fort Worth because of PGBT's newness.

Another part of the NTTA system I've traveled is Frisco on the northern side back to near Plano. Depending on route, this can use one or two tollways. DNT (Dallas North Tollway) and SRT (Sam Rayburn Tollway.)

Neither of these are as decent as PGBT is at the moment, but there is construction going on, so maybe they will be better in a year or two.

In this instance however, the only other "highway" choice is TX-289, a.k.a. Preston Road, which is not all that different from Coit Road or Custer Road. You don't get anything as large as US-75 unless you purposely go out of your way just to get to it.

Even though DNT and SRT aren't as nice as PGBT, it's absolutely faster for basically one reason. No traffic lights. If traveling south from Frisco and take TX-289 or Hillcrest or Coit or Independence or Custer or whatever, it's lights, lights and more lights. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Absolutely unavoidable. This being true, that makes the tollways the better roads by default.

Yes, the rates are going up

It's June 2021 as I write this and the rates are going up next month. For people with the toll tag (sticker on the windshield,) the price doesn't go up that much. NTTA states it averages to a $0.01 per mile price increase. That's not terrible.

But for those without the tag and do the ZipCash pay-by-mail thing, a 50% price increase.

Ouch.

While I have a tag, I don't routinely take tollways. And I do wonder how much worse the already-bad traffic congestion will get once the ZipCash price increase happens next month. US-75 is the one I'll be watching in particular, as it would not surprise me in the least if that route gets blasted with a bunch of new traffic right when July starts.

I also wonder what this is going to do with the push north. Just north of Frisco is Prosper, and NTTA plans to expand up that way. Traffic is sometimes enough of a reason for people to move. If traffic gets too nasty south of US-380, people may move north of US-380 just to get some traffic relief sooner than later.

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