Larson, business community team-up to stop toll roads in Bexar County

Link to article here.

Exclusive: New effort launched to kill Bexar toll roads
Business, government leaders join in effort

By Jim Forsyth
WOAI Radio
Thursday, January 4, 2007

A powerful coalition of north side businessmen, led by auto dealer Ernesto Ancira and Tetco Chairman Tom Turner, Jr. is leading a new push to get all plans for new toll lanes on Highway 281 eliminated, 1200 WOAI news reported Thursday.

It’s part of a multi-faceted effort to fight back against efforts by the Metropolitan Planning Organization in Bexar County and by the Perry Administration in Austin to turn to toll roads to alleviate the state’s transportation crunch.

In separate letters to the MPO, Ancira and Turner urged the Organization to remove all consideration of tolls from its long-term plan for 281.

“We own five convenience store locations along the proposed tollway,” Turner wrote. “Each one of those stores is worth $2 million to $3 million apiece. The addition of toll roads along this stretch of 281 has the great potential to have a catastrophic impact over each one of these convenience stores. We would definitely not have chosen these locations had we known of the possible existence of a toll road.”

Ancira’s letter is even more strongly worded.

“The addition of toll roads to this stretch of 281 has the potential to have a long term negative impact on my business,” Ancira wrote, pointing out that he has invested millions in his Chrysler-Jeep dealership on 281 outside Loop 1604 ‘with the understanding that 281 would remain a freeway.’

Bexar County Commissioner and toll road opponent Lyle Larson says the message he gets from businesses large and small along 281 is the same, and it proves that the county and state should never add tolled lanes to existing highways, highways where businesses currently exist.

“We made those investments based on the fact that it was a freeway,” Larson quoted businesses owners as telling him. “You build tollways, and essentially your traffic is cut in half. This sentiment goes all the way up that corridor and down the other, the business people are against it.”

A plan to build additional tolled lanes on U.S. 281 between Loop 1604 and the Comal County line was ordered to begin in 2006, but has been temporarily halted due to environmental concerns.

Larson says it’s time for the MPO and the Perry administration to put a halt to all toll road construction in Bexar County. He says if the money which has been looted from the state highway construction and maintenance fund by greedy lawmakers and moved to other projects over the past two decades was returned, there would be no need for toll roads.

“You stop the diversions, and then you back pay the $9.3 billion, you fix a lot of the issues statewide, and you fix all of the issues in Bexar County, without having to build toll lanes.”

Larson says legislation will be introduced in the upcoming session to stop diversions of money from what is called “Fund Six,” the state gasoline tax fund. Larson says over the years, gasoline tax money, which is supposed to be used to build and repair public highways, has been used to pay for the operations of the State Department of Mental Health Mental Retardation, to build new cemeteries, on auto theft prevention efforts, and even to fund a bureaucrat’s dream called the “State Office of Administrative Hearings.”

Larson pointed out that estimates are that the state will have a surplus of up to $15 billion in the coming session, and the first place that money should go is to fund highways and replenish the gas tax money which has been looted.

“If you look at the basic structure of government, I think infrastructure should be one of the primary focuses, before you start using discretionary allocations for things I don’t think the state government should be involved in,” Larson said.

He said the ‘next six months’ will be critical in efforts to kill toll road plans in Bexar County.

0 Replies to “Larson, business community team-up to stop toll roads in Bexar County”

  1. Jerry W and Patricia K Brantley

    I completely agree with Commissioner Larson and believe that he is one of the most sensible politicians in the State. Toll roads have been shoved down the taxpayers” throats without a chance for us to have any input. This is the typical mode of operation for the Perry administration and it has to stop. My wife and I are available to work on this project as volunteers in any way we can!

  2. Harvey Beierle

    As I have stated before, the push for toll roads is a scam, much like the Transguide scam. These totally non-essentials are all part of the looting process, which started in the late 1980’s and have continued to the present time. The mis-directed funds would have funded all of the stalled projects, such as the Wurzbach Parkway, the missing interchange at US 281 at Loop 1604, and the missing bridges on US 281 at Encino Parkway, Evans Rd, Stone Oak Parkway, Marshall Rd, Bulverde Rd, Borgfeld Rd, etc, etc, with money to spare. How can this corruption and extortion within TxDOT continue. As a TxDOT retiree of 13 years I am embarrassed by what these clowns are doing.

  3. David Ramos

    I for one am glad to see the business community is finally behind the bandwagon. It’s no secret that tolls will hurt the business community and I am glad that businessman like Ancira are coming out in the open.
    Are you listening Bill Thornton? Are you going to add Ancira and Larson to your “kook list” now? Or are you going to finally admit that toll roads are not favorably received by the citizens nor the business community in this town?
    I wonder if folks like Thorton will ever address the questions as to why toll-roads are being considered when it is now common knowledge that BILLIONS in gas-tax dollars are being diverted !

  4. Frank Hall

    One wonders why there haven’t been any FBI or other Federal investigations into the TxDOT/Zachary/Cintra partnership? If this operation isn’t a prime example of a RICO violation then the U.S. Congress needs to recind RICO. What we really need is for our alleged “representatives” in Congress to pass legislation to BAN the tolling of all Interstate and U.S. Highways. Also, there should be an outright BAN nationwide of any state, county or local government from entering into any agreement with any foreign company or other entity.

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