Letter to Editor challenges Chapa pro-toll article

Read it in the Express-News. Jonathan Epstein and Tom Bergo both address the toll road debacle in their letters…WAY TO GO! The Express-News has been flooded with letters like these, and yet they only print drips and drops! Notice how Tim Tuggey, HUGE pro-toll proponent, gets all kinds of ink to tout Via without questioning his conflicts of interest. His law firm represents the highway lobby and he sits on the Via Board and yet he advocates gobbling up all available transportation dollars for highways without seeing to it public transit is properly funded.

LETTERS TO EDITOR
Put $200 million toward things we really need

It is amazing how quickly County Judge Nelson Wolff and his cronies can find $200 million to throw at a Major League Baseball team and I am driving on major arteries filled with potholes and trash.

Extending the hotel and rental car tax seems to be the answer to funding everyone’s boondoggle. The tax funded the SBC/AT&T Center, which, of course, had nothing to do with tourism. Now that it will soon expire, either rescind it or point it toward something that tourists actually use, such as our roadways and other infrastructure.

The tax itself is one of the highest in the country, and it is time to make good use of the funds on things the city actually needs and not pie-in-the-sky projects.

Jonathan Epstein

Toll roads stifle growth, slow everyone down

The Editorial Board needs to reconsider its stance on toll roads and their value to a community. I can think of no better way to stifle growth and slow down the efficient movement of people and goods. Having lived in Chicago for 10 years and seeing the tollways there in and around Illinois, I have concluded toll roads are no better than free roads during any period of heavy traffic — just more expensive.

The article “The logical route” by Rebeca Chapa seems to rely heavily on quotes by those interested in seeing the tollways built and not on those who oppose them. This myopic view pays a disservice to readers and exposes the paper to the criticism that it and its editorial staff are influenced by those who will profit financially from the toll construction and not by the people of the community who have already paid for the roads and will have to do so again.

It is not so much the fact that the construction will merely have to build frontage roads and call this “equivalent.” The fact is that the right of way that they will be assuming and charging me for was already paid for with my tax dollars once.

This pattern of missed opportunities for leadership seems to be rampant throughout the Texas government. Saying every future road should be a toll road allows Gov. Rick Perry to sidestep one of the hard issues, just as he and the Legislature have sidestepped other hard issues. Another example is school funding and property tax reform. By doing nothing, the politicos have had a solution forced on them by the courts so they can individually claim they are not responsible for the outcome.

Any publication worth its salt would investigate all sides of an issue and report both sides fairly — which the Editorial Board has plainly not done. The board has obviously missed the fact that improvements for “fixing” the problem with U.S. 281 were already funded and ready to go when the tollway solution was mandated on the unsuspecting public. My suspicion is that inflation will cause these funds to be insufficient when the toll solution is finally rejected and that my tax dollars will have to make up this shortfall.

Further, I have a problem with any deal made between the state and a private concern where the contracts are not available for the public to examine — especially when I’m paying for the service the firm will be delivering.

Please take a step back and re-examine this issue from the standpoint of a taxpayer who has already paid for a service once and will have to pay for many times more if the tollway issue is not stopped. It would not be so bad if the tolls were stopped when the road was paid for, but the profit motive of a private company will ensure they will live on forever.

Tom Bergo

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