Chip Haass seeing the light on tolls?

Click here to go to Driscoll’s blog chock full of links to supporting articles.

Little faith in toll roads
Toll roads are not the answer, according to Councilman Chip Haass.
April 14, 2006
By Pat Driscoll
Express-News blog

Haass kicked off a blog this week and in one post made a pitch for a city bond referendum that would emphasize traffic congestion and drainage projects.

“In my gut, I know one of the ideals which separate SA from other similarly populated cities is our relatively short commutes,” he wrote. “Right now, the public works department has a back log of over 1 billion in street congestion and drainage capital improvement projects. What are we doing to get ahead of this scary curve?”

But …

… the real interesting part came after several people posted encouraging comments. Haass responded yesterday:

“I really am scared of what the future holds. I know toll roads have received a lot of publicity recently. Certainly, they are not the answer.

And …

“We have to study the big picture. I really believe strengthening our major arterial system around the highways will take pressure off the need for vehicles to use highways. Also, if we continue to increase levels of downtown and urban housing, then light rail will work here.”

Can this be?

Last August, as a board member of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, Haass voted with a majority to not pursue an independent review of about 70-miles of planned toll roads. That landed him on San Antonio Toll Party’s official de-elect list.

“When the chips were down, he didn’t come through,” Terri Hall said on her blog.

Until then, Haass had been hailed as a hero by toll critics who quoted him in their flyers. The quote, said at a City Council meeting in reference to officials keeping negotiations with toll companies secret, was, “You could not convince the constituents of San Antonio that this is a good deal.”

And what about …

… this stuff about more arterial roads and light rail?

Former city planning director Dave Pasley, who sounds like he speaks much more freely nowadays, suggested just that four months ago in a guest column, which toll foes have heartily embraced and repeat often.

The North Side needs more roads, not necessarily bigger roads, he said. And it would be great if politicians had the spine to limit development on the recharge zone or if more people wanted to live in transit-oriented, high-rise developments.

“While we are waiting for hell to freeze over, I suggest the City Council assign two tasks to the new city manager,” Pasley said.

“1. Complete the Wurzbach Parkway ASAP.”

“2. Make San Antonio developers provide a network of arterial streets as they do in Phoenix.”


… has Chip been talking to Dave lately?