Hutchison amendment progress, but won’t stop the trainwreck just yet


Hutchison amendment progress, but won’t stop Texas toll proliferation
Citizens say step in the right direction, but a long way yet to go

San Antonio, TX, September 13, 2007 – We applaud Senator Hutchison for attempting to begin the long process of reining-in not just our rogue state agency, TxDOT, but also many of her colleagues who claim banning managed lane projects (adding new toll lanes to existing corridors to “manage” congestion, which is also a DOUBLE TAX) was a non-starter.

This amendment does little overall to stop any current toll projects in the works throughout Texas. The State can still bulldoze our existing interstates to its heart’s content and re-arrange the pavement to make way for toll lanes down the middle. They call them “new lanes” but they’re using our existing right of way already paid for with gas taxes. So it’s still a DOUBLE TAX. The State can also continue to toll existing STATE highways, all or in part, unabated.

Consider TxDOT’s tricks to replace “existing lanes” with frontage roads or to narrow the width of the existing lanes (after they destroy them, then re-build them, taking twice the construction time as a freeway at more than double the cost), it will slow down or manipulate traffic in such a way as to maximize the number of people on the tollway (or steal the entire existing freeway making second class citizens out of those who cannot afford tolls by relegating them to frontage roads).

“So it begs the question, if politicians fell all over themselves to be the first to repudiate tolling existing interstates (like Texas State Senator John Carona, State Representative Lois Kolkhorst, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, San Antonio Councilwoman Sheila McNeil), then why won’t they stop TxDOT and the tolling entities from tolling our existing STATE highways?” asks a frustrated Terri Hall, Founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF).

“The people of Texas are tired of tough talk and no action. They’re tired of politicians playing games with the plain meaning of words. TxDOT is tolling EXISTING STATE HIGHWAYS and rights of way, which is no different than tolling existing interstates, which they claim to object to. So why don’t we stop the tomfoolery and end this. If they want to build toll roads, make them completely NEW roads, but stop tolling our existing corridors (whether federal or state highways),” Hall challenges.

“So this amendment is a start, but doesn’t come close to addressing the fundamental concerns of taxpayers outraged by what’s happening in this state,” notes Hall.

When the Texas A&M Study says we don’t need toll roads, it’s confounding that some politicians still march ahead over the people’s objections.

“This battle is far from over and Senator Hutchison vows to continue to fight this DOUBLE TAXATION in its many forms. We surely hope so!” said Hall.