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Dallas 2011 Super Bowl: Visitors Could Get Gouged On Toll Roads

Michael Lindenberger of DallasNews.com has an important tip for those in town renting cars for Super Bowl week: stay off of toll roads or plan ahead. Otherwise visitors could get gouged badly by automated toll roads and car rental companies. 

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Here's the situation: Our system of toll roads -- and it's a large network -- is the first the U.S. to completely switch from toll booths to electronic toll collections. That means drivers, including visitors in rental cars, are more than welcome to use our toll roads, so welcome you will never even be asked to stop to pay a single toll.

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Instead, thousands of cameras stand ready to take pictures of your license plate so armies of clerks can send you a bill in the mail. Except, there's a renal car catch that seems custom made to bilk Super Bowl fans: If you are in a rental car, the owner of that car is not you, but the rental car company. And that's who will get the bills.

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But by the time that bill gets to you, chances are it will be very large indeed. Here's why:

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Look at the fine print of your rental contract and you might find that your company treats unpaid tolls just like unpaid parking tickets or other "violations" -- and will charge you a flat fee for every toll you incur, on top of the actual tolls themselves.

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Given how spread out North Texas is, it wouldn't be hard to incur dozens of toll charges -- usually just $1 or so a pop -- in as little as a week. But with rental cars attaching $10 or even $25 fees to each one of those tolls, your bill can get real high, real fast.

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Avoiding toll roads can be easy or hard, depending on where you stay. Those staying on the north side of town are going to struggle to avoid them without opting to sit on 635, 75, 183 and 360 for much of their visit. Lindenberger suggests prearranging a flat fee with the rental company or a temporary toll tag as safe alternatives.

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Given that so many of our visitors next week will be media, I would think that local leaders would arrange to accommodate folks by working with the rental companies or making temporary tags easy to get, but this is DFW we're talking about.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.