Thursday, February 14, 2019

It Takes A Toll

We are extremely grateful that Pastor Larry Lamb and his church in Sweeny had evangelist quarters available for us to stay in during revival while the BoggsMoble was in the shop. It was a huge blessing to us and a great savings to us as well. 

We stayed there for 12 nights. That would have translated to over $1000 in motels easily. Thank you, Bro. Lamb and Full Gospel Lighthouse.

Staying in Sweeny and preaching revival put us 80 miles from the bus at Prevost Houston. I drove that round trip in the Green Machine 8 times in 13 days. That was quite a little commute. In the mid nineties, I worked in construction in the Cincinnati area and drove one hour each way most of the time. I do not miss that.

The 80 mile commute back and forth to the bus varied in time tremendously according to the time of day. Rush hour traffic in Houston can grind to a halt and I learned to respect it quickly. I drove that 80 miles in as little as 1 hour and 19 minutes and as much as 2 hours and 30 minutes! If I left at 5:00 AM, fine. If I left at 5:20 AM, Whoa!

Beginning in Sweeny I had about 40 miles of two lane state highways. Then I joined the interstate for about 17 miles with the first 7 miles under construction. After that was 20 miles of the Sam Houston Tollway and a few more miles of surface streets to Prevost and the BoggsMobile.

On 20 miles of Sam Houston Tollway I had to go through 3 toll gates and pay cash. The first 2 gates were $1.75 each and the last one was $1.25. That is $4.75 for 20 miles of highway. In contrast, the Turner and Will Rogers Turnpikes in Oklahoma are about $4 for 80-100 miles. I thought that was steep. Apparently not steep enough for Texas!

I made that round trip 8 times at $9.50 each trip. That is 320 miles of the tollway for $76 just for the tollway section of the drive. Thank God that the other 320 miles of roads only cost me gas money!

We took the bus on the tollway for a short section during the test drive and that cost $3.50. Then as we departed Houston we paid $7.00 at another gate with the bus and car hooked together. Get this, the charge is $3.50 for the 3 axle bus and $1.75 for the 2 axle car. Hook them together and the charge is $7.00 for the 5 axle rig. Do the math. Rigged is exactly what that is.😇

The kicker is the sign we came to next. "EZ Tag only, No cash." What? I am on the road with a 65' rig and I have about 10 seconds to decide if I should stay on the tollway or take a city exit into an unknown maze of city streets.

I stayed on the road, looked up the number to Harris County Toll Road Authority that owns the tollway and the conversation went like this.

Harris County: Hello Harris County Toll Road Authority.

Davy: Hello, Mam, this is Davy Boggs. I am from out of the Houston area and I am driving the Sam Houston Tollway. The last two weeks I have been driving the northwest section of the tollway and have been stopping every few miles to pay the tolls in cash. I am now leaving Houston driving south in a 65' rig on the northeast section. I just came to a sign saying, "EZ Tag only, No cash." There is no way for me to exit the road and I would like to know what I can do.

Harris County: Sir, you need an EZ Tag.

Davy: Mam, I am from out of town and I do not have an EZ Tag. I have an Oklahoma Pike Pass, but that does not work on the Sam Houston. I would like to pay this toll. Can you help me or direct me to the right number?

Harris County: That is right, Sir, the Pike Pass will not work. You need an EZ Tag. That is the only way to drive the Sam Houston.

Davy: Mam, I just came through a gate and paid cash. I was expecting to pay cash for the rest of the way. I am just visiting Houston and I do not have an EZ Tag, what can I do to pay this toll. I do not want to receive a ticket in the mail, so I am trying to be proactive and find out what I need to do.

Harris County: You will have to call the Harris County Toll Road Authority and pay the toll.

Davy: I am sorry, I thought that was the number I called. Can you give me that number?

Harris County: Yes, Sir, you are correct, this is the Harris County Toll Road Authority.

Davy: Great, I am from out of town and have driven in a 65' rig onto a section of the Sam Houston Tollway that accepts only EZ Tag and does not accept cash. I would like to find out how to pay the toll today.

Harris County: Sir, you will have to call the Harris County Toll Road Authority.

Davy: I thought I was talking to the Harris County Toll Road Authority.

Harris County: You are, but you will have to call back.

Davy: Why?

Harris County: It will take a few days for your toll to show up in our system. Call back each day until it shows up, but if you wait more than a week there will be an additional penalty OR if you go through more than 3 toll readers without an EZ Tag you will be charged an additional $11 per toll. Sir, it would be easier if you would purchase an EZ Tag, they can be purchased at ......

Davy: Can you maybe make a note of my call so that I am not charged a penalty. There was no way for me to avoid this road and I  would really like to pay the toll.

Harris County: Yes, the best way is to purchase EZ Tag before you drive on the Sam Houston, they can be purchased online or ......

Davy: Thank you, mam

Blah, blah, blah, blah and blah.

It really does take a toll.

Thank you for reading.


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