Greater Chamber lacks understanding of basic economics, throws a tantrum over 281 lawsuit

Link to article here.

Pro-toll former City Councilman turned Greater Chamber President Richard Perez, has turned into the whiner-in-chief on behalf of the Chamber’s big dog, Zachry. This propaganda campaign is a bankrupt attempt to blame those looking out for the taxpayers and advocating for the economic survival of families for the greed of government and road contractors. The overpasses we’ve advocated for 3 years could be built tomorrow for one-quarter the cost, use half the footprint, take half the construction time, and 281 would remain a freeway we can ALL use.

If the big business community understood anything about economics, they’d know paying a toll to get to and from work equals a pay cut for employees. Good luck getting/retaining employees if you’re located in a tolled corridor. I just talked to a guy the other day who works along 281. He told me he’d have to get a new job and move since he can’t afford to pay tolls on top of high gas prices that are already killing him. Let’s start telling their stories…

These rabidly pro-toll whiners who stand to make four times the money off toll roads as freeways can cry wolf all they want. At the end of the day, San Antonio cannot afford toll roads. TxDOT’s own studies (toll roads aren’t viable at $3 a gallon for gas), the bond market (increasing cost of borrowing), and the declining dollar prove it.

Economic Leaders Fear Job Losses from Latest Anti Toll Move
Worry latest lawsuit will show a ‘polarized city unable to solve its infrastructure problems’
By Jim Forsyth
Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lose your job, or can’t find a job? Blame anti toll road groups.

That’s the powerful new message coming from the city’s business and economic development leaders as Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, an anti toll group, and the environmental organization Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas, filed a federal lawsuit this week seeking to block plans to build toll lanes on U.S. 281 outside Loop 1604, claiming the construction would threaten the Edwards Aquifer and endangered species, 1200 WOAI news reports.

Several economic development groups tell 1200 WOAI news that now that the decision has been made to proceed with toll lanes as a way to fight congestion, any attempts to delay the process threaten the entire region’s economic growth.

“I think what they’re doing through this lawsuit is hurting families,” Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce President Richard Perez said from India. The Greater Chamber has long supported toll road construction.

“At the end of the day, it’s families that need to get out of their homes to work, to shop, to live their lives.”

The argument among economic development officials is that the issue of toll lanes on U. S. 281 has been the subject of a robust debate over the past two years, with lawsuits filed before to attempt to block the toll lanes. Despite widespread opposition, the Metropolitan Planning Agency voted in December to begin construction of toll lanes this year, and now that the debate has happened, lawsuits have been settled and the decision has been made, it’s time to move on.

“All of this is going to cost us an additional millions and millions of dollars that we just don’t have right now,” Perez said.

Several economic development officials cited the weakening national economy, and pointed to the fact that congestion on the city’s north side can be accepted by companies looking to locate in the region if those companies know that the city has planned ahead and relief is on the way. But if companies see a city where transportation solutions are tied up in court, potentially for years, and traffic gridlock on one the most desirable sections of the city getting worse and worse, the image will be of a polarized community which is unable to solve basic infrastructure problems.

One person who helped with the latest lawsuit conceded that the group’s real goal is to tie up the toll lane construction indefinitely, in hopes of forcing the RMA to accept non toll alternatives for U.S. 281, including a long dormant plan to build overpasses at Evans, Marshall, and Stone Oak Roads.

“The last thing we need to be is alienating people who are putting our people to work,” Perez said.

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