MPO wkshps silent on tolls in public but tolls likely in 25 yr plan

Link to article here.

In another deceptive, underhanded way, the San Antonio Metropolitan Planning Organization (SAMPO)is seeking public participation on its 25 year plan without allowing citizens a say in how future roads get financed. The toll roads got placed in prior MPO short and long-range plans under the radar, and now that federal law requires public participation in MPO planning, they’re holding meetings but refusing to discuss the elephant in the room…toll roads! It’s imperative the public shows up and makes this an issue. If they sneak in toll roads in the long range plan, they can toll them at ANY time over the next 25 years and the public will have little to say in the matter! Go the events page to see dates, times, locations.

Toll roads absent from transportation talks
By Patrick Driscoll
Express-News
09/16/2007

Metropolitan Planning Organization officials will hold public meetings to get input on how city growth and transportation should be shaped through 2035, but they aren’t prepared to say how toll roads could impact various scenarios.

At four MPO workshops scheduled over the next two weeks, people will be shown three options for living, working and traveling:

Same ol’, same ol’, which means a lot more sprawl that shackles people to cars.

Compact development along key corridors to make transit and walking more viable.

Higher densities in the city’s core so there’s more places to go that are closer together.

But the issue of the day — toll roads — won’t be included as a factor.

Tolling speeds up financing of road construction by years and even decades. Could a spurt of toll lanes quicken development of sprawling subdivisions?

Also, toll roads don’t eliminate congestion, which is needed to make them financially successful, but rather pushes growing traffic to frontage roads and other streets. Could toll fees, coupled with an option to stay stuck in worsening gridlock, change development patterns and encourage more transit riding and carpooling?

People who go to the workshops won’t find out.

“It’s not an answerable question at this stage,” said Jim Harvey of Alliance Transportation Group, a consultant helping the MPO update its 25-year plan.

Nevertheless, toll critics will likely attend the meetings to object to toll plans.

“Folks need to turn out to these meetings to be sure toll roads aren’t part of our future,” said Terri Hall of San Antonio Toll Party, which has members in Bexar and Comal counties. “Let’s say no to tolls.”

The long-range plan, updated every five years in a year-long process, is a framework for how more than $200 million a year in federal and state gas taxes, along with local matching funds, get spent in San Antonio.

New this time around is a MySpace page — www.myspace.com/mtp2035 — to reach a larger and younger crowd. Another site — www.mtp2035.org — has been set up as a one-stop place for information. Also, people can call (210) 785-0888.

The current plan, Mobility 2030, programmed a total of $8 billion. A fourth was earmarked to help build more than 70 miles of toll roads, while a tenth was flagged for non-toll lanes.

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