Toll 49

Plans are underway to extend Toll 49 northward, toward Interstate 20 in the eastern part of Smith County.

TYLER — Smith County and the Northeast Texas Regional Mobility Authority will work together on enforcement of toll collections.

The Smith County Commissioners Court approved an agreement Tuesday with the agency to allow the county tax assessor-collector to refuse to register certain vehicles with outstanding toll balances.

Under Section 502.011 of the Texas Transportation Code, vehicles can be refused registration if they are considered habitual violators. In this case, the cars or trucks would need to be habitual violators on Toll 49.

Chris Miller, the executive director of NETRMA, said habitual violators are drivers who run up 100 or more unpaid charges in one year. He said nine places on Toll 49 track tolls, so the violations add up quickly.

“Our goal is not to put someone in this situation. Our goal is to try to get that resolution,” Miller said.

He said some of the ways to work with people include payment plans or reducing the fines.

“But this is a last resort,” he said.

“In some cases, there are some that are commercial vehicles that are using the road, and they’re affiliated with the company and that company is just ignoring us,” Miller said.

Smith County Tax Assessor-Collector Gary Barber said he does not intend to use the last resort lightly.

“This is not going to be somebody’s kid who drove their car over the toll road accidentally,” he said. “This is people who are driving on the toll road with no intention of paying their toll.”

County Judge Nathaniel Moran said he likes the agreement because the goal is compliance with the tolls, instead of punishment.

“I’m appreciative of the fact that we’ve worked together, (that) the two entities worked together to find some good common ground on how it’s going to move forward,” Moran said.

Commissioner Terry Phillips said the language in the contract allows the tax assessor-collector to refuse to register vehicles but doesn’t require him to take that action.

Moran added: “It keeps the discretion with the elected official so he can make the final call.”