Dallas Morning News: CDA moratorium seeks to halt toll roads

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Measures take aim at toll roads
Legislature: Proposal halting creation of private routes for 2 years gains steam in Senate
Dallas Morning News
March 7, 2007

AUSTIN – The majority of senators have endorsed legislation to prevent the creation of new private toll roads for two years.

Two measures offered Tuesday by Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, also would prohibit conversion of existing roads to toll roads. At least two dozen senators have signed on as co-sponsors of the two bills, indicating that both should easily pass the chamber.

“We must closely evaluate private toll contracts before we sign away half a century of control of our transportation system,” said Mr. Nichols, a former state transportation commissioner. “Many provisions in recent toll contracts are alarming.”

Senate leaders have been increasingly critical of a series of private toll road projects approved in recent years by the transportation commission, including a $3 billion deal announced last week to make State Highway 121 the first privately operated toll road in North Texas.

Senators have warned that some of the projects might result in skyrocketing tolls for motorists in the future and could hamper the ability of the state and local governments to improve public roadways near the toll roads.