HOUSTON - The teachers at Spring Forest Middle School asked KHOU 11's Verify team whether Beltway 8 has been paid off and if the tolls will ever go away in the foreseeable future.
"Why do we still pay for toll roads?" wondered 7th grade teacher Rebecca Mustachio. "To be honest, I thought we would be done paying for toll roads."
We are not even close to paying the bill for those roads, according to Roxana Sibrian of the Harris County Toll Road Authority.
In a statement emailed to KHOU, the authority says it will be paying off construction debt until at least the year 2049. That doesn't include the cost of new construction projects as the county's mobility needs continue to grow.
HCTRA says construction of Beltway 8 and the Hardy Toll Road costs $2.5 billion, and even after that is paid off, tolls will continue to be collected to pay for maintenance.
Sibrian says the false perception that tolls would one day be eliminated has long haunted the toll authority.
She says HCTRA never promised it would remove tolls.
The Texas Department of Transportation says the Grand Parkway will also continue charging tolls for the foreseeable future.
TxDOT spokesman Mark Cross says even after the project is paid for, tolls will be continued to be collected to pay for maintenance and as a revenue stream.
Cross says there was never a plan to remove tolls.
Roxana Sibrian, Harris County Toll Road Authority
Mark Cross, Texas Department of Transportation
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