Letter to Editor highlights unintended consequences of toll projects

Unintended consequences
Letter to the Editor
June 10, 2008
Express News

In a rush to find the “silver bullet” to solve the energy crisis, Congress quickly latched on to two technologies: compact fluorescent bulbs (CFBs) and ethanol. Now that Congress has committed the country, it comes out that both products cause problems.

CFBs, which contain mercury, will contaminate our landfills and will not work with dimmer switches. The wholesale shift to ethanol has led to a worldwide food crisis resulting in civil unrest in places like Haiti, Indonesia and Afghanistan. Members of Congress refer to these outcomes as “unintended consequences.” They can do so truthfully because they never bothered to study the subjects before making these decisions on behalf of the American people.

Now we are seeing the same practice on the state and local level when it comes to toll roads. Despite numerous requests to do so, TxDOT, the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, etc. have refused to perform routine impact studies before committing our region to toll roads. So ultimately when traffic reroutes itself through surrounding neighborhood streets to avoid paying tolls, it will be an unintended consequence.

When businesses close along toll road corridors because tolls have absorbed the discretionary spending dollars of families, it will be another unintended consequence. When toll receipts prove insufficient to pay off the bonds and the bonds become the burden of taxpayers … well, you get the picture.

You would think that before these organizations bind our region to 50-year obligations, they would want to check these things out. Of course, the members of these organizations expect to have moved on long before the chickens come home to roost and expect that voters will forget who got us into this mess.

Marc Smith
San Antonio