Here’s my response to this Editorial:
I take issue with you stating our side has misstated the facts or hurled heated rhetoric. Joe Krier and the slew of pro-toll proponents, all of whom will financially benefit from the toll plans, cannot name ONE FACT we’ve misstated! All of our figures are directly from the Comptroller’s web site, TxDOT’s own web site, and other reliable government sources in the public domain like the General Accounting Office.
No one in our group is saying that we shouldn’t address the congestion problems in San Antonio. On the contrary, we desire a true assessment of how to finance it without toll agreements in these 50 year sweetheart deals with foreign companies for improvements that are ALREADY PAID FOR! We’ve attended TxDOT’s numerous public meetings, the MPO Meetings, the RMA Meetings; if we’re misstating the facts, it’s these bureaucracies who are doing it because that’s who we get our information from. If we’re lying, then Lyle Larson and Tommy Adkisson and David Leibowitz, and other public officials are lying because that’s also who we get our information from.
I’m confident that once you see the FACTS laid out in front of you, the editorial you (or your staff) published today would never have been written.
Editorial: Toll plans warrant sober consideration
Web Posted: 03/12/2006 12:00 AM CST
San Antonio Express-News
The figures are stark: Hundreds of thousands of new people and vehicles will be moving throughout our community during the next 25 years.
As companies such as Toyota and Washington Mutual bring thousands of new jobs to the area, efficient transportation will become an ever-more critical component of our lives.
In 1980, 8,600 vehicles traveled along U.S. 281 north of Loop 1604 each day. Now, that figure is more than 90,000 vehicles, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Official estimates put the rate in 2035 at about 161,000 vehicles per day.
That’s a lot of cars, and they’ll require a lot of roadways.
The revenue from state and federal gas taxes isn’t sufficient to keep up with the demand for new and improved roads. Elected leaders haven’t raised the state tax in 15 years, and the political will isn’t there to do so now.
Enter toll roads as an option. They provide a way to get roads built more quickly, while giving motorists the choice of whether or not to ride them. Two private companies, one from Spain and one from Australia, are bidding to finance and operate toll projects in Bexar County and across the state.
State and local officials are considering the two companies, while at the same time looking at public financing solutions.
Unfortunately, the debate over tolls has become mottled on both sides with misinformation, no information and, sometimes, conflicting information.
We urge toll road advocates to be more transparent about toll road projects, and we recommend that those opposed to toll roads seriously consider the future transportation needs of this community. At a minimum, opponents should cool their rhetoric and exercise caution about the arguments they advance as facts. Overheated propaganda is detrimental to the debate.
It’s time for a sober discussion about transportation — one of the most significant policy questions that will affect our community for years to come.
Toll roads are essential if we are to add capacity in a reasonable amount of time, but the details must be examined thoroughly.
San Antonio is the eighth-largest city in the country. To continue growing at a healthy pace, we can’t sit back and let development overtake our community. We have to be pro-active and forward-thinking.
First of all, we’re attempting to have a sober discussion about the FACTS, but it’s a lot easier when the proponents aren’t allowing their judgment to be clouded by BIG MONEY. How else can such life-altering plans be treated? You bet thousands of concerned citizens are sober to the fact that our government is about to price us off our own freeways, plans to toll nearly every freeway in Texas, and then hand them over to private companies for profit! If the public financing option is still on the table, then why is TxDOT promoting these CDAs (public-private deals) in a workshop January 17, well-attended by the same folks who plan to profit handsomely by the toll roads? See the details here. Oh, and Cintra and Macquarie, the two foreign companies that remained nameless in the editorial, are PARTNERS on toll roads all around the world. Read about it here. This seems like important information to reveal before repeating TxDOT’s claims of “competitive bidding.”
Next point, all the added population also means more tax revenues. Gas tax revenues and who will fund the growing highway burden don’t stay fixed based on today’s population. The more folks that take up residence here, the more tax revenues go up. In a related article by Carlos Guerra today, he quotes TxDOT complaining the gas taxes have been raided and now there’s not enough money for highways. Well, look no further than Ric Williamson, the Chair of the Transportation Commission, to see who’s guilty of raiding those funds while he was a State Rep. here. Make Williamson pay for the improvements he can’t fund!
But for the majority of the trouble on 281, TxDOT already has a FUNDED plan to fix the increased traffic and it’s on our web site here. It would add overpasses at the stop lights, 2 more lanes of freeways, and 4 lanes of frontage road AND it’s already paid for. If there’s such dire concern over the high traffic volume, then why doesn’t the City and County start to curb development over the aquifer in that part of town rather than charge us a lifetime toll tax for highways we drive on today free of tolls?
Development has and will continue to takeover our community because our politicians would rather represent the BIG MONEY special interests than proper city planning and the public good. Too bad our newspaper has fallen for the propaganda. It doesn’t take much time to do a little research on how toll roads don’t solve congestion, they simply manipulate it for profit. It doesn’t take much, but we’ve amassed a whole web page devoted to links chock full of evidence to back up our contentions here. Our blog and the “In the News” section also chronicles our contentions with dozens of articles here. And it isn’t rhetoric; it’s the FACTS! How ’bout the Express-News Editorial Board investigate this and what the other side has to say before backing tolls?