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Austin adds free tolls for qualifying veterans

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Eligible veterans can now use toll roads for free as part of the new Qualified Veteran Discount Program.
Photo by David West

The Central Texas Regional Mobile Authority will now wave certain toll road fees for eligible veterans as part of the new Qualified Veteran Discount Program, launched Nov. 1.

Eligible veterans must either be a recipient of the Purple Heart, the Legion of Valor, the Medal of Honor or be a disabled veteran. Qualified veterans must have a vehicle registered in Texas, a qualifying special-issued plate associated with an electronic Tag account and have no outstanding Mobility Authority toll violations.

Texas law allows toll authorities to offer these discounts to qualifying veterans after Texas Veterans came forward with their difficulty affording traveling expenses, allowing the (Veterans Affair) House Bill 3139 to pass in Sept. 2009.

“While the Mobility Authority relies on toll revenue rather than taxing authority to deliver mobility solutions for Central Texas, we are pleased to be able to offer this program to veterans who have served our country,” said Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein in a Mobile Authority press release.

John Chaney served for two years in the U.S. Army and was a recipient of the Purple Heart when he returned back from Vietnam in 1968.

“I use to live down in San Antonio so I go down and visit every once in a while,” Chaney said. “I think it will be beneficial, its rough on people paying toll roads and you can get there quicker.”

Since 2012, Texas has featured many free toll roads for participating veterans, but recently has added Toll Roads 183A, 290 and State Highway 71, bypassing U.S. Route 183, Interstate 35 and creating a faster connection between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and Bastrop. In the future, they will be adding Toll roads 183 South and State Highway 45 SouthWest.

Vincent Garza, a Marine veteran, served for three-and-a-half years and he said he uses these roads frequently.

“183A and 71, I use to the Austin VA clinic and I have appointment sometimes at the Temple VA and I’ll take 130 to Georgetown, its pretty convenient and way less traffic,” Garza said. 

Eligible veterans can register online with the Mobile Authority. More information about the Texas Tag Veteran Discount Program at the TxTag website.

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