This is sorely needed in Texas where not only are ALL unelected boards setting and raising toll rates at will without voter consent, the unelected Transportation Commission is also imposing tolls on previously free lanes in a DOUBLE TAX rip-off of Texas-sized proportions! Texas does nto have statewide initiative referendum, which is why this horrible transportaiton policy has not been remedied. So much for the fantasy image that Texas is freedom-loving and a low tax state. Tolls represent the largest tax increase in Texas history.
Washington: Voter Initiative Kills New Toll Roads
State official rules Transportation Commission can no longer set tolls in Washington state.
Converting freeways into toll roads is one of the most popular types of project among transportation bureaucrats and certain politicians. When asked their opinion on the wisdom of tolling, voters have expressed a far different sentiment. In Washington state, for example, there is now no question that Initiative 1185, which took effect last December, will block a number of tolling projects that have been in the works.
"There will be no unilateral increase in tolls by the Transportation Commission because the voters said no to agency-imposed increases in November," initiative sponsor Tim Eyman said in a statement. "That means no tolls for 405 HOT lanes, no tolls for the Alaska Way Viaduct, no tolls for the Columbia River Crossing, and no toll increases on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge."
Here's a few of the articles resulting from our press conference at TURF Lobby Day at the Texas Capitol.
Texans to lawmakers: no more tolls
By James Jeffrey
Austin Business Journal
March 13, 2013
Texans from across the state gathered at the Capitol Tuesday to urge Senate and House budget writers to accept long-term road funding solutions and avoid raising tolls.
State Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, and State Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, have filed Senate Bill 287 and House Bill 782, respectively, that would allocate revenue from motor vehicle sales tax to the state highway fund.
Representatives from Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom are concerned those bills have been sent to budget committees to die. They oppose an alternative solution, SB 1632 by State Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, that would fund transportation projects and authorize fees, which they argue would result in more tolls for Texas road users.
(Austin, TX, March 12, 2013) - On Tuesday morning, Texans from across the state converged at the capitol to stress the need for Texas Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, Speaker Joe Straus, and House and Senate budget writers to prevent the most fiscally sound, long-term road funding solutions from being held hostage to more tolls, debt, and tax hikes.
Activist leaders Terri Hall (TURF) and JoAnn Fleming (TEA Party Caucus Advisory Committee Chair and Grassroots America director) sounded the alarm to Texans that soon every major road will be tolled, and foreign corporations can take over our roadways, driving up the cost of daily travel with unfettered tolling.
Charging Texans an extra 15 cents to 75 cents per mile to get to work, isn't fiscally conservative or sustainable. Taking away existing free roads by slapping tolls on them and building those toll projects with tax & fee money, so the road is 100% paid for, is highway robbery. No one should have to pay a toll to drive on it, period. Ebullient politicians gleefully announced their double tax rip-off. Texas doesn't have a road policy -- it has tolls, tolls, tolls by default and lack of leadership.
Those who have tried to solve the problem with higher taxes, get cut-off at the knees, yet what are tolls if not a Texas-sized tax increase -- by unelected boards to boot? Tolls are the MOST expensive and unaccountable way to fund roads. It's time for government to tighten its belt. Texans are sick and tired of being asked to bail out our politicians from their bad decisions and their refusal to properly fund a core function of government -- building roads!
Wear: If all else fails (politically), toll
By Ben Wear
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Austin American Statesman
Listening to transportation officials last week extol the virtues of what will be Austin’s seventh tollway, I couldn’t help but think of John Carona.
Carona, make that state Sen. Carona, is a Dallas Republican who just about broke his legislative pick in 2009 trying to get a “local option” transportation bill into state law. His measure, which passed the Senate, would have allowed county commissioners in urban areas to ask voters to OK a local gas tax or to increase existing automobile fees. The point was to raise money for local transportation projects.
Instead of return the excess money for the project to build other badly needed highway improvements eleewhere, they plan to spend it on 'enhancements.' This is what happens when you have unelected toll boards in charge of building public highways -- they spend, spend, spend and only think of how to keep their doors open and feed their own bureaucracy, not provide affordable travel with our scarce tax dollars.
Contract for MoPac toll lanes lower than expected
By Ben Wear
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013
The low bid for adding express toll lanes to North MoPac Boulevard came in well below expectations, toll authority officials said Wednesday, allowing engineers to consider up to $20 million in enhancements to the project.
The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority board awarded the contract for final design and construction of the 11-mile project Wednesday to a consortium led by the Colorado-based engineering firm CH2M Hill. The $136.6 million bid was more than $62 million below the second-lowest of the three bids submitted, and about $33 million below the mobility authority’s estimate of $170 million.
Link to article here.
TxDOT has worked a deal to spend the $100 million concession fee it received for increasing the speed limit on SH 130 to 85 MPH for non-priority projects. I use the interchange at I-10 & Hwy 46 in Seguin frequently and it may have a bump in truck traffic, but nowhere near the gridlock of the 100 Most Congested Roads. Both of these projects serve as feeders to Cintra's toll road. So basically Cintra's payment helped itself.
Also note, despite a whole lot of legislators claiming you can't toll existing roads in Texas, TxDOT does it routinely (note plans to convert existing Hwy 71 in Austin to toll lanes with Cintra's money, leaving frontage roads as the non-toll as they allowed Cintra to do to Hwy 183 in Lockhart to build its SH 130), which is why HB 1054 needs to pass to protect taxpayers from such outrageous double taxation.
TxDOT revives Texas 71 tollway project
By Ben Wear
Austin American Statesman
Wed., Feb. 27, 2013
The Texas Department of Transportation, in part using money generated by the Texas 130 tollway, has revived dormant plans to build toll lanes on Texas 71 from near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Texas 130.
Officials estimate the 2-mile-long project, which could begin before the end of 2014, will cost about $140 million and take two years to complete.
There's growing concern that our personal information is being sold or divulged without our permission by any number of government or private institutions. Now there's proof that the Texas DMV has indeed been selling Texans' private personal information to a plethora of businesses with a keen interest in driver information -- over $2 million/yr's worth!
Texas DMV Sells Personal Information To Hundreds Of Companies; Drivers Not Allowed To Opt-Out
February 13, 2013
Fun, dubious, privacy-violating stuff happening out in Texas where the Dept. of Motor Vehicles has made a tidy sum selling the information it collects (including names, addresses and makes/models owned) to a variety of private companies.
The Texas DMV claims its "top priority" is protecting drivers' information, but that hardly seems to be the case when it's pulling in $2.1 million a year selling it off. There are protections in place, but they are flimsy at best.
The $1 billion in reserves that the Harris County Toll Authority holds may end up being used for more than just road expansion. With the pressures of unreimbursed healthcare costs to counties rising, road users may end up being the 'gap-funding' of choice to fill holes in the county's budget. Read more about the Harris County Commissioners have already used toll road revenues as their own personal slush fund here.
Harris County is in good shape, but shoulders staggering health care burdens.
February 22, 2013
When Harris County Judge Ed Emmett delivers his 2013 State of the County speech to a friendly Greater Houston Partnership audience on Monday, he will be able to say what few others in his position around the nation can. We're in good shape.
But shhhhhh! We're going to need to spend more at the county not merely to keep up, but to anticipate future growth.
The county's position is strong and getting stronger, thanks in large part to a booming economy; but also because of forward-looking decisions made by county leaders across the decades. That's a tradition Emmett aims to continue, and one we strongly support.
Entities such as the Harris County Toll Road Authority help position the county to continue to meet the pressures of a rapidly expanding population at a time when the Texas Department of Transportation is literally going broke. The Toll Road Authority, with its $1 billion in reserves, is a large reason Harris County maintains a AAA bond rating, which shaves millions off of interest expenses annually. This isn't to say that Harris County is problem-free. Far from it.
Eminent domain for private gain is alive and well in Texas. Texans are supposed to have Constitutional protection from this, yet here it is.
Soccer field owner battles Dallas plan for horse park
By JONATHAN BETZ
February 17, 2013
DALLAS — Activists are fighting efforts by the City of Dallas to seize a private soccer complex to make room for a golf course and equestrian center.
“They’ve just told me they need the land, and they’re going to get it,” said Rhadames Solano.
In December, the City Council approved the use of eminent domain to seize Solano’s 23-acre soccer complex on Elam Road near Interstate 45 and Loop 12.
It shows how far off their rockers Republicans have gone...they're actually considering selling off the Capitol, the PEOPLE'S building, in a public private partnership (P3) for commercial developers to wreak havoc with and profit from, including a 47-story building, grocery stores, and tearing down the ONLY public parking garage to make way for condos!
Note that it's primarily Democrats opposed this nonsense, though they're without excuse since they all voted for this disastrous bill (that TURF tried to stop, SB 1048), which opened the floodgates to P3s with NO oversight, accountability, or ANY input from lawmakers or the public.
Guess they had to pass the bill before they knew what was in it!
Legislators addressing development in Capitol complex
By Laylan Copelin
February 17, 2013
Concerns about plans to build out the Capitol complex have some lawmakers reconsidering the role of public-private partnerships, including changes in state law that could afford Austin neighborhoods some protection from commercial development on state lands.
Public-private partnerships — commonly called P3s — aren’t going away, but powerful legislators are telling Terry Keel, executive director of the Texas Facilities Commission, that the controversial financing option might not be right for the heart of the Capitol complex.
Link to article here.
The wave is coming: Trade and debt will overwhelm Texas absent new funding
By Terri Hall
February 18, 2013
The eighth annual Texas Transportation Forum hosted by the Texas Transportation Institute and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) kicked off yesterday in Austin with all eyes on the future - the future of international trade in light of the Panama Canal expansion, the future of road funding, and even the future of driving (like driverless cars).
The big question the Panama Canal discussion tried to answer was whether or not Texas is ready for the coming tidal wave of trade and super-barges (and cargo that will be off-loaded onto super-trucks). The answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no.’
- Video nails lawmakers with road debt, presses them to stop tolls
- Washington citizens seek ballot measure to ban freeway tolls
- TxDOT tells lawmakers of funding crisis
- U.S. building more highways, letting old ones crumble
- Virginia's 495 Express Lanes attracting much less traffic than needed
- Perry calls for end to diversions, Rainy Day raid for roads
- Transportation chairmen want existing vehicle sales taxes to boost road funding
- Lawmakers mull tax on electric cars
- Alamo toll agency lays off nearly all its workers
- Boycott success? TxDOT keeps Cintra's early traffic data on SH 130 secret
- Victory: Ohioans reject sale of Ohio Turnpike
- TxDOT says it needs $4 billion more for roads
- State leaders taking Texas off fiscal cliff with road debt
- Street car draws criticism in Virginia
- Orange County toll system falling short of paying its debt
- Brits face threat of yet more toll roads
- Priorities for the 83rd Texas Legislature
- Virginia governor proposes repeal of gas tax
- Austin toll authority manages to hit age 10 despite opposition
- NTTA wants ability to seize cars for failure to pay tolls
- Toll authority wants its own courts, power to jail
- North Texas bureaucrats drive transportation-toll regime
- Highway Robbery: How P3s extract private profits from public infrastructure
- Houston toll system an unaccountable slush fund
- Cintra snags P3 for Hwy 460 toll project in Virginia
- Austin tollways require double taxation to be profitable
- Oregon officials eye road use tax on hybrid, electric cars
- Editorial: Lawmakers must get serious about funding transportation
- WARNING: DFW officials seek two more P3 toll roads
- Caddell: Three-quarters say America no longer run by consent of governed
- Trans Texas Corridor alive & being built
- Book Review: I-69, the Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway
- Tolling Texans: Impact of Trans Texas Corridor lingers
- Tolling Texans: More cities plan toll lanes
- Tolling Texans: Toll projects spread as state funds lag
- New Chair won't rule out gas tax hike
- Time to re-think VA's public-private transportation act
- Cato scholar slams street car as obsolete 'fantasy'
- Government waste taking us off fiscal cliff
- TxDOT cashes-in by slowing free routes
- Big exec pay-outs despite Aussie's failing toll road
- NAFTA leaders push to deepen integration with Mexico, Canada
- NAFTA cargo to get inspection-free border crossings
- Public interest group cautions against Ohio turnpike lease
- Spanish firms dominate toll road market
- Texans to boycott first foreign-owned toll road
- HOV policy changes to benefit private tollway
- England quietly plans new round of road tolls
- Perry's budget compact should dictate adjustment to gas tax
- Spain's highway bubble: Empty highways lead to bankruptcy
- Putting lipstick on the P3 pig - 'availability payments'
- Loop 1604 could be handed to private toll operator for 50 years
- TX lawmakers vote to sell-off 20 roads to private entities
- Highway Trust Fund needs to be cut 92%?
- VA Residents protest toll lanes on I-395
- Reasons to be wary of public private partnerships
- Legislators pass law to use property tax to build TOLL roads
- Trans Texas Corridor update: Hwy 59 gets I-69 designation
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Latest Press Releases
- Texas for Sale: Texas roads may be handed to private, foreign toll operators
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