Highway Lobby sends out memo to try and pose as stealth "citizens" in favor of tolls!

SAMCo Action Alert!
US 281 Public Meetings – March 29 and 30

SAMCo Members and Partners:

Supporters of toll express lanes will have an opportunity to provide supportive comments at two public meetings on the US 281 project to be hosted by TxDOT the evenings of March 29 and March 30. Times and locations are provided in the meeting notice that follows.

As toll opposition groups are targeting this event for a large negative turnout, I want to encourage our members and partners to help deliver a more positive and accurate message on the benefits (in other words – the benefits of taking money from our wallets to line theirs!) of the US 281 toll project. Please consider taking the following specific actions:

1) Forward this email to members of your boards, committees, government relations councils, and other potentially interested individuals and groups.
2) Encourage anyone in support to attend either of the two meetings. Numbers and turnout will be a major factor in this!
3) Encourage them to provide brief supportive comments – either orally or in writing.
4) Even just a brief sentence or two will do. What is important is that they hear from what we believe is a large – and up to this point – silent majority on this.
5) Attached for your reference are two recent documents on US 281 (TxDOT) and on the overall need for toll express lanes (AlamoRMA).
6) Key points you may want to mention in your comments, keeping in mind this is an environmental public meeting:
a. The project is in response to growth that is already occurring. Most land along this corridor has already been platted for development. Several major employers (i.e. Mutual Savings, PGA Resort, etc.) have already announced plans for expansion in the general area of this project.
b. Economic and population growth is occurring at a rapid and sustained pace in northern Bexar County.
c. Traffic along this corridor is increasing about 15 percent annually.
d. Air quality will be enhanced as more cars will be freed from congestion – rather than idling at long traffic lights.
7) Please call or email me at the numbers that follow if you plan to provide testimony! During the next few days, I will be working with several task forces to refine our comments. I will be glad to share this information with any of you.
8) The official TxDOT information follows. Thanks in advance to all of you for your assistance with this!

NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETINGS

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will conduct two (2) Open Houses/Public Meetings relating to the preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the portion of the proposed U.S. Highway (US) 281 project which runs from approximately Loop 1604 to Borgfeld Road in San Antonio, Texas. The proposed project covers approximately 7.5 miles.

The Open Houses/Public Meetings will be held:
Wednesday, March 29, 2006 at 6:30 PM
Ronald Reagan High School Auditorium
19000 Ronald Reagan
San Antonio, Texas 78258

and

Thursday, March 30, 2006 at 6:30 PM
Barbara Bush Middle School Auditorium
1500 Evans Road
San Antonio, Texas 78258

The meetings will begin with an Open House from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., followed by a formal presentation and comment period beginning at 7 p.m. Information presented will be the same for both Public Meetings.

The purpose of these Open Houses/Public Meetings is to discuss ongoing environmental studies currently being conducted along US 281 from approximately Loop 1604 to Borgfeld Road. The environmental studies would identify and explain potential changes to the natural, social and economic environment that could occur as a result of construction of the US 281 project.

All interested citizens are invited to attend these Open Houses/Public Meetings and provide verbal or written comments on this project. Citizens will also be afforded an opportunity to view project exhibits and ask questions at the Open Houses and Public Meetings. Written comments not provided at one of the Public Meetings should be submitted to the following address: HNTB Corporation, Attn: Lena Camarillo, 85 NE Loop 410, Suite 304, San Antonio, Texas 78216. Fax: (210) 349-2101 or e-mail: US281@hntb.com. All comments must be postmarked or received by Monday, April 10, 2006, to be included in the public record.

Persons interested in attending these Public Meetings who have special communication or accommodation needs should contact Lena Camarillo at (210) 349-2277, at least two (2) working days prior to the first meeting so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Because the Public Meetings will be conducted in English, any request for language interpreters or other special communication needs should also be made at least two (2) working days prior to the first meeting. Every reasonable effort to accommodate these needs will be made.

Victor M. Boyer
Executive Director
San Antonio Mobility Coalition, Inc.
602 E Commerce Street
San Antonio, TX 78205-2620
(210) 229-2125; Fax (210) 229-1600
vboyer@samobilitycoalition.org
www.samobilitycoalition.org

0 Replies to “Highway Lobby sends out memo to try and pose as stealth "citizens" in favor of tolls!”

  1. Vic Boyer

    Terri,

    Thank you for helping distribute SAMCo’s call to action to a wider audience.

    One correction, I used the term “toll express lanes”, not just “express lanes”. I believe the term I used denotes both the cost and a least one potential benefit of the proposed additional express lanes.

    Also, nothing is “stealth” about our efforts. Many of our members live along or near the US 281 corridor, drive the corridor, and have professional expertise to offer on this topic.

    This is America, afterall, and they have an equal right to present their views. They won’t be “posing” as citizens, they are citizens! Do you really mean to imply that anyone with an opposing view from the Toll Party is somehow less of a citizen?

    As for the wallet issue, please remember motorists will gain an additional option or choice to avoid congestion. Each would decide themselves whether to use the facility and pay any toll. Just like a parking garage, a taxi or bus fare, a train or plane ticket, cable TV, etc.

    Terri, I do love your enthusiam and passion, and respect your point of view.

    Vic

  2. terrih Post author

    Mr. Boyer,

    I beg to differ, those who will personally profit from the toll roads off the pocketbooks of their neighbors are no less a citizen, BUT their personal profiteering should be openly exposed so that their comments are taken in the proper context of self-interest (if not outright conflict of interest). Rather than abstain from this discussion due to a clear conflict of interest as would be honorable, you’re advocating that your members attend a public meeting to promote a toll plan for their own personal gain! You’re essentially asking the rest of us to lay down and allow you to ram through a lifetime toll tax on an EXISTING FREEWAY where even the IMPROVEMENTS are paid for!

    How many of your folks will willingly admit in a crowded room of fellow taxpayers that they’re a member of SAMCO, get contracts from TxDOT, or seek to get contracts from TxDOT before they declare their allegiance to the highway lobby by promoting tolls on a highway we drive on today for FREE? “Planted” attendees posing as ordinary citizens in favor of tolls are far different than average citizens who will pay for your members’ personal profiteering.

    I have no problem with pro-tollers showing up to voice their opinions, but let’s be honest about financial connections to the highway lobby and these projects in so doing!

  3. Vic Boyer

    Terri, a few facts about SAMCo that may be of interest to you and those reading our exchange:

    1) SAMCo currently has 74 member entities, including the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, VIA, Greater Kelly Development Authority, CPS, the Free Trade Alliance of San Antonio, HEB, USAA, the Medical Center Alliance, the SA Greater Chamber, the SA Hispanic Chamber, the North SA Chamber, the South SA Chamber, and several financial institutions. We are a rather broad-based, public-private coalition.

    2) While about fifty SAMCo members are in some way involved “in the transportation industry” (engineers, construction companies, aggregate suppliers, etc.), most are not involved directly or indirectly in the US 281 project or in the two CDA proposals that are on the table for the proposed Loop 1604/US 281 toll express lane projects.

    3) I am aware of only four SAMCo members that are associated with either the Cintra-Zachy or Kiewitt teams bidding on the toll projects. I believe that three other SAMCo members provide legal, engineering, or other professional services to the AlamoRMA or TxDOT on the toll projects.

    4) Thus, only about 7 of our 74 members (slightly less than 10 percent) have any direct association with the US 281 project. Most (about 90 percent) are not involved in the project from a financial standpoint.

    5) Of the 7 members who have been associated with the toll projects, only 4 have served on our 17-member Executive Committee (our policy making body) currently or at any time in the past. Of these four, three made decisions to let their terms on our Executive Committee expire last summer. As with other projects that we may discuss or address, individuals or entities with potential conflicts are expected to abstain from votes/discussion on these issue.

    6) I believe our members have acted with high ethical standards. To the best of my knowlege, SAMCo Executive Committee decisions regarding toll projects are being made exclusively by individuals who are not financially involved with TxDOT and/or the AlamoRMA on these specific projects.

    Thank you for the opportunity to provide this information.

    Vic Boyer

  4. Esteban Erik Stipnieks

    Boyer shame on you…..lies lies lies…does the lobby ever get tired of telling them. After Casteel got shown the door and others you need to lie lie lie.

    HOW ABOUT GIVING UP RECORD SURPLUS ON GAS TAX MONEY how much of my sweat in a warehouse is enough for you? How much of my hard earned effort is enough? I work in private industry if we pulled half the stuff TxDOT does our CEOs would be in jail and we would be looking for other jobs.

  5. terrih Post author

    I fail to see how the numbers of those directly involved on the 281 project changes the focus of your organization. By your own admission, 50 of the 74 are highway interests, and the others are in bed with them. Your organization is pushing the MOST EXPENSIVE MOBILITY OPTION….TOLLS! The majority of your membership will directly profit from road building and can’t seem to wait to get their hands on a limitless toll road slush fund.

    Since when does increasing taxes, increasing the cost of doing business (by 25 to 100 times more than gas taxes), and increasing the size of government grow the economy or benefit business? It doesn’t. There is NO EVIDENCE that a Nation or municipality can tax their way into prosperity. So why would a group of businesses and government interests push this? Their own self-interest at the public’s expense, period.

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