Ex-TxDOT commissioner swipes back at Col. Allard's column asking to rein in TxDOT

Link to Letter to Editor here. TxDOT had to head all the way to Ohio to find an ally willing to attack the intelligence of a distinguished retired Colonel, Ken Allard. There’s nothing “snide” about shining some light on the corruption and total mismanagement at TxDOT. When our PUBLIC highway system is being hijacked by the road lobby for private interests at the taxpayers’ expense, it’s heroic not lacking intelligence, to speak up and demand accountability. Mr. Barnhart isn’t pointing out anything that hasn’t already been vehemently criticized, the Legislature’s raiding of gas tax funds and refusal to properly fund our public highway system.

Comment: Where’s the ‘intelligence’ in attack on TxDOT?
San Antonio Express-News
11/07/2007
The snide commentary on the Texas Department of Transportation by retired Col. Ken Allard, a former army intelligence officer, makes me wonder if those in his former profession were as cavalier in their analyses of the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan as he has been in analyzing the factors leading to the highway funding crisis that Texans face (“Give TxDOT red light before it goes too far,” Oct. 18).

If so, it’s a wonder our military hasn’t been driven from the Middle East already! Thank God he’s retired and not directing our government’s policies today.

Fact I: In chastising TxDOT for its funding shortfall, I assume Allard feels it’s irrelevant that even though state motor fuel taxes generated $3.1 billion this year, the Legislature allowed TxDOT to use only $1.4 billion for road purposes.

Fact II: Apparently this former “intelligence officer” thinks it’s not important that despite TxDOT engineers calculating 20 years ago that overweight trucks were annually causing some $450 million in damage to the road system, for 18 years now the Legislature has, by law, required TxDOT to issue permits to truckers that allow them to exceed the legal axle and gross weight limits. That law has added more than $8 billion in damage to the road system, and there’s not a darned thing TxDOT or the Department of Public Safety can do to stop issuing those permits until the Legislature repeals that stupid law.

Fact III: The Texas Legislature has for years violated the state constitution (Article 8, Section 7a) by diverting billions of dedicated highway taxes to fund nonhighway projects, but that doesn’t seem to matter to Allard.

This year alone, more than $26 million was directed to aviation projects, almost a million to the Intercoastal Canal, more than $30 million for public transportation, $50 million to the Texas Education Association, plus $10 million to Health and Human Services, as well as more than a million to the Commission on Arts.

These are but the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, and the diversions go on and on. The Texas Legislature writes the laws and TxDOT has no choice but to obey them.

Mr. Intelligence Officer, you sure owe TxDOT an apology.

Ray Barnhart, former administrator,

Federal Highway Administration;

former commissioner, Texas Department of Highways and Public Transportation; former member, Texas Turnpike Authority,

St. Clairsville, Ohio

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