Talk about misleading…the claim that there is no valid non-toll plan for US 281 is flatly UNTRUE. Go here to see the TxDOT documents for a $100 million gas tax funded plan distributed in public hearings in 2001 that were also adopted into the MPO’s plans for 5 years before being turned into a $1.3 billion toll road in 2004. The “let” date on this non-toll plan was 2004. How is a 5 year old plan “outdated” by TxDOT’s standards? Wurzbach Pkwy, just approved by the Transportation Commission, is a 20 year old plan. The interchange at 1604 & I-10 used a 15 year old plan. Nearly all of TxDOT’s planning is long-term, and its plans are meant to meet the needs of future projected traffic forecasts years into the future.
The cost escalation for the fix to 281 going from $100 million to a $1.3 billion toll road has NEVER been justified by TxDOT or the tolling authority (RMA) nor scrutinized by Commissioner Kevin Wolff, the MPO, or any elected officials except Commissioner Tommy Adkisson and Rep. David Leibowitz. Inexplicably, Wolff now advocates unprecedented scrutiny be paid to the far more affordable non-toll option, and he wants more taxpayer money spent on yet another non-toll study.
This unneeded wasteful spending of $200,000-$500,000 of taxpayer money on something TxDOT already has on the books but refuses to sponsor or advance due to its pro-toll agenda is a gross abuse of taxpayers and congestion weary commuters on 281. Fiscal conservatism and responsible government is absent from such “studies”…
Non-toll option needs valid study
The problem is that no up-to-date non-tolled option exists. As County Commissioner and Metropolitan Planning Organization Chairman Tommy Adkisson discovered in September, there is no plan or study available that can serve as the basis for non-tolled improvements to U.S. 281.
That didn’t stop him from pushing the non-existent non-tolled plan at last month’s heated MPO meeting. Fortunately, a majority of MPO board members voted down a proposal that would have put hundreds of millions of dollars in state and federal transportation funding at risk and delayed progress on U.S. 281 by years.
Read the rest of the editorial here.