Driscoll: Dealing with gas prices and how it relates toll roads

Driscoll’s blog.

Dealing with gas prices
By Pat Driscoll
April 25, 2006

With average gas prices nearing $3 a gallon, officials are turning up the heat and taking pause …

President Bush on Tuesday called for a probe to see if any price gouging is going on. He also wants oil companies to use record profits to invest in new energy sources and said more refineries should be built and technologies used to explore for domestic oil.

Regular unleaded now averages $2.92 a gallon nationwide, up 70 cents from a year ago, AAA reports. Prices in San Antonio ranged from $2.62 to $2.91 this morning, according to postings on SanAntonioGasPrices.com.

With the busy summer driving season looming, prices are expected to stay high for months. Meanwhile, two-thirds of Americans say prices are causing financial hardships, a CNN poll shows.

Toll-road critics in San Antonio say the high prices could jeopardize plans for 70 miles of local toll roads. People won’t use tollways if they can’t afford to pay, Terri Hall of San Antonio Toll Party told the Metropolitan Planning Organization on Tuesday.

“I think it does require us to pause at what’s going on,” she said.

Hall punctuated her point by referring to a newspaper story about two New Jersey toll roads losing millions of dollars in toll collections last year because of rising gas prices and a winter storm.

Bexar County Commissioner and MPO board member Tommy Adkisson said he’s concerned, too. He plans to ask the board next month to approve an independent study to find out how escalating gas prices over time could change travel behaviors and impact highway projects worth tens of millions of dollars.

(See this USA Today story about drivers flocking to mass transit.)

“It’s incumbent upon this community to have a serious moment of introspection,” he said. “We don’t want to throw our good money after bad.”