The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Friday, May 25, 2012


There's a new danger on the road these days. Instead of those old tales of cops hiding behind barns, billboards, and bushes waiting for the unwary driver who doesn't see the speed limit sign (also carefully hidden) we now have cameras and toll roads.

Yes, I said "toll roads".

As we moseyed on back home from San Diego, we had to travel through Texas. And, in doing so, we had to go through Houston. I don't like Houston much. I am sure it is a fine city with nice people but it is also a traffic snarl.

A fellow golfer once asked me:

"Do you know the best time to drive through Houston?"

I responded with:

"At 3 AM?"

Now, they have (like many big cities these days) HOV lanes. But they are not simply HOV lanes, they are also toll lanes. This is something new. In California, near San Diego, there is an HOV/Toll lane on I-15. If you have 2 or more people in a car, it can use the lane during designated congested periods ("rush hours"). If you do not, you can still use the lane but must pay a toll. This is enforced through the use of traffic cameras in conjunction with something called an EZ-Pass, or similar, which can be a device or a sticker with a bar code. In either case, the car owner has an account out of which the tolls are paid.

We got nailed using the lane on a weekend... obviously no congested period. I missed getting off at the last "toll free" exit. The signs continued to state "2+ free" so I thought it wasn't a problem... until I received a letter from the "HCTRA" (Harris County Toll Road Authority). I requested an explanation for the fine through an email address the letter provided.

This is the answer I got:

Thank you for allowing Harris County Toll Road Authority the opportunity to assist you. We apologize for any inconvenience. The Katy Managed Lanes is a project of the Texas Department of Transportation and the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority. It is operated by the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA). The KML consist of four lanes (two eastbound and two westbound) located in the center of the I-10 Katy Freeway. The two outer lanes are toll lanes. During posted hours the two inner lanes (one eastbound and one westbound) are High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) lanes. The posted times are 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday - Friday. At all other times (including weekends) the two inner lanes are toll lanes.

I must pay the fine or avoid driving through Texas. Well, to be fair, I would likely only have to worry if I was pulled over for some other infraction or come across an over zealous traffic cop.




Traffic Sux said...

How much was the fine?

Douglas4517 said...

 $34 - a pittance, really, not enough to make one avoid Texas altogether but enough to raise the ire.