Driscoll’s blog gets it right: what TxDOT says and what it means are two different things!

See Driscoll’s blog here.

Note how TxDOT doesn’t consider its own ORIGINAL funded plan for 281 (See it here) an option they’re considering. It’s only build it as a tollway or no build as the options. Read more analysis here: satollparty.com/post. This is the sort of defiance we’ll continue ot see from this unelected bloated bureaucracy until there’s a change in leadership in Austin. A vote for Perry is a vote for tolls, find out about Strayhorn’s support of our cause on our home page.

What they really mean …
By Pat Driscoll
March 27, 2006

State officials made an odd statement Friday, saying they’re cancelling a construction contract for U.S. 281 toll lanes, which in January were stalled for at least two years by a lawsuit.

The statement’s pretty much meaningless because stopping payments for stand-by time was a given … you have to look deeper for the real meaning.

First, there’s the timing …
The statement was issued less than a week before holding public meetings (Wednesday and Thursday) to redo environmental evaluations for the toll lanes. The lawsuit called for a full-blown impact study, but we won’t know for another year or so if that’s going to be done.

Then there’s the meat of the message …
The Texas Department of Transportation’s long missive goes on to talk about how the new evaluation affects timelines for toll roads:

•The $84 million project to build toll express lanes and free frontage roads on U.S. 281 from North Loop 1604 to Stone Oak Parkway will be two years behind even if a less-intensive environmental assessment is approved. The assessment will cost $800,000 and construction could jump another $8 million. The lanes would be finished in 2010 instead of 2008.

•If federal officials decide an impact study is needed, that could cost another $2 million and add up to another five years of evaluation plus up to four years for any redesign. The lanes would be finished between 2014 and 2019. Officials assume construction inflation will be at least 5 percent a year.

Non-tolled express lanes aren’t mentioned as an option (a point of attack for critics since the construction money was coming from gas taxes) but a no-build option is. Coming up with another project would have to be studied, and there’s no estimate on how long that will take.

•A $21 million underpass at U.S. 281 and Borgfeld Road has also been put on hold since the environmental evaluation must cover planned toll lanes all the way to Comal County.

And what this means is …
Motorists won’t see any lanes, toll or non-tolled, added to U.S. 281 for years to come … and the more involved an environmental evaluation gets the longer they’ll have to wait.

Is that scary? Is that a tactic? (Note: You bet ya…it’s how TxDOT will try to get away with installing a 16 lane toll nightmare over our sole source of water without a study of the impacts!)

TxDOT’s statement ends with a quote:

“We regret the inconvenience to the driving public and urge safe driving habits as we work to resolve this matter.”

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