Comments to Bexar County Commissioners
April 7, 2009
The Alamo RMA is on life support. After spending tens of millions of taxpayer money, they have not one thing to show for it but a trail of dishonesty, and abuse of taxpayer money on every front like its 411 on 281 propaganda campaign and high-priced lobbyist to lobby lawmakers to keep their own jobs, not to mention relentless below the belt attacks on ordinary citizens, especially housewives and homeschooling moms.
The Alamo RMA and TxDOT are trying to convince the public NOTHING can be done on 281 for 7-9 years (3-5 years for a new environmental study and 3.8 years to build it). The law plainly shows this mantra is patently false. The clearance got pulled for the toll project only. There are provisions in the law that would allow the scaled down, non-toll original overpass expansion plan to move forward in months not years.
The ONLY thing that’s delaying the fix to this freeway now is the Alamo RMA’s REFUSAL to work with the community on a smaller scale, non-toll solution to 281 north. This isn’t about a lack of funding or lack of clearance, it’s about a lack of political will by those who want to tap the vein of congestion-weary commuters to make money off this freeway.
The “slice & dice” interchange – an RMA bailout!
Here’s the rub over the stimulus money. WOAI news radio reported January 14 that the RMA submitted a proposal to fix the main lanes on US 281, without making them toll lanes. Yet in the project list submitted to the Transportation Commission for stimulus funds, it clearly lists 281 as a toll road! RMA Chairman Bill Thornton promised it would remain a freeway if they got stimulus money for it. But they never submitted 281 as a non-toll project and never intended to do a non-toll fix as these documents show. Then in yet another twist, the RMA abandoned the freeway fix completely to pursue the interchange.
It’s a bait and switch and the public is SICK and TIRED of the misleading information, broken promises, and outright lies.
Clearly, the Alamo RMA is NOT an honest broker.
An Express-News article states only the southbound connectors would be built using the stimulus money. The RMA says the reasons they sliced and diced the interchange is because that’s all they have money to build. Just last year, the entire interchange cost was listed at $150 million. Now they say $143 million will only build half if it.
The interchange is a red herring to use up the stimulus money on something other than fixing the BIGGER problem, which is getting overpasses built to remove the stoplights from our freeway and get traffic moving again. This interchange is an “RMA bailout”!
Short of the environmental work for 281, they’ll be twittling their thumbs for the next 5 years. They’re grasping at straws to find anything they can call “shovel ready” to keep their doors open.
The reason they don’t want to build the northbound connections is because they plan to toll them (as shown in MPO documents dated February 23, 2009, that stated “connections to managed lanes optional” — managed lanes are toll lanes). When angry taxpayers made such a stink about using stimulus money on toll projects (which is a TRIPLE TAX), the RMA subsequently backed away from building the whole interchange knowing they’d get blowback if they came in later and tolled those ramps that were paid for already.
So instead of building the entire interchange, they scrapped the northbound connections and will let all of 281 north wither on the vine for 7-9 years until they get their toll road built.
They’ve promised if a new pot of money appeared, they’d keep them freeways. Now they’ve got it (stimulus money), and they’re still going to end-up tolling our freeways.
We do not need new legislation to get rid of this out of control agency. Simply direct them to vote to dissolve. And please do it quickly since they’ll say and do anything to stay on life support, and keep us doling out their lavish $1 million dollar salaries and benefits, instead of serve the best interest of the taxpayers. A bill in the Legislature to merge the RMA into a new agency just had a public hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee yesterday. So time is of the essence!