The Watchdog loves nothing more than sticking his head out the window and cruising down the road.
David Rogers of Overland Park also loves the open road, but he isn’t enamored with the stops and starts of the Kansas Turnpike, especially since he’s seen that things are faster in Colorado, where there’s no stopping at booths on the toll roads.
He kept rolling down the highway while a picture was taken of his license plate. Then he got a bill in the mail with his toll fee. It’s electronic open tolling.
David suggested perhaps a portion of toll money in the Sunflower State could be used to “bring Kansas into at least the 20th century.”
Why, he wonders, does the Kansas Turnpike continue to have arms that come down, even in the K-Tag lane?
Apparently, those empty Kansas roads are partly to blame.
“Many states have gone to open road tolling because of congestion, and right now Kansas doesn’t have this problem,” said Rachel Bell, Kansas Turnpike Authority communications manager.
In addition, the turnpike authority is worried about losing the money used to keep up the roadway.
“You’re going to have a certain amount of traffic that never pays the toll bill,” she said.
Matching up the license plate to a driver is also a concern.
Colorado officials say open tolling is going pretty well on the three roadways that adopted it in 2009. Those include E-470 and Interstate 25 in the Denver area.
While it’s a bit more complicated technologically, David Kristick, deputy executive director and director of operations for E-470 Public Highway Authority, said it’s working.
Drivers can open an express toll account with a prepaid balance. They put a sticker in the car and the toll money is taken out of the account.
Everyone else gets tracked down based on license plate photos.
About 92 percent pay their bill immediately. Of those sent a follow-up notice, 96 percent pay before being sent to a hearing or collection service, Kristick said.
Despite the non-payers, Kristick said, the system is “a cost saver for us.”
“It’s simpler to maintain this equipment than the booths and coin machines,” he said.
Still, the state is cracking down on some scofflaws who refuse to pay tolls on I-25 and E-470 east of Denver. Their ability to renew vehicle registration is blocked until they pay tolls and fines.
So are there plans for open tolling in Kansas? Not at the moment.
That means most drivers need cash in paw in home sweet Kansas.
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