No sooner than our call to contact your congressman and Senator Hutchison to call off the Federal Highway Administration dogs trying to interfere with STATE legislation, HB 1892, did we find out that U.S. Congressman Nick Lampson (Houston area) went after Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters in the House Committee on Transportation THIS VERY MORNING!
Your calls and interaction with our federal representatives are working, not to mention Harris County and its toll authority wants HB 1892 to pass as much as we do! HB 1892 is also a bill that allows counties, not TxDOT and thus private partners, the FIRST right of refusal to build toll projects. The battle over 121 in North Texas is being exploited by Perry to defeat HB 1892.
Here’s a glimpse of the gems by Lampson:
“Madam Secretary, NTTA (North Texas Toll Authority), declined to bid on SH 121 because of extortion by TxDOT, not out of it own free will.”
“Proffering policy advocacy by FHWA at this delicate juncture in our legislative process is HIGHLY INAPPROPRIATE.”
Kudos to Rep. Lampson.
May 11, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing today, Congressman Nick Lampson (D-Stafford) strongly questioned U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) Secretary Mary Peters regarding DOT’s interference with a bill passed by the Texas state legislature concerning public control of state toll roads. The Texas Department of Transportation (“TxDOT”) had recently coordinated with the DOT”s Federal Highway Administration (“FHWA”), resulting in policy letters to TxDOT that highlighted certain policy disagreements with the state legislature’s bill, H.B. 1892, as passed. The bill now awaits a publicly acknowledged, forthcoming veto by Texas Governor Rick Perry.
“The federal government should not be interfering with Texas counties’ control over their own toll roads, and more importantly, should not be interfering with any state issue, period,” said Congressman Lampson. “I am pleased to be working with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison on this issue so that we can protect matters that are rightfully within the jurisdiction of the Texas state legislature.”
H.B. 1892, as originally passed, would allow for the North Texas Tollway Authority to bid on the development of toll roads on State Highway 121, located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. This legislation, and FHWA’s subsequent letters, have major implications for several major toll roads throughout Texas, including Harris County. At today’s Committee hearing, Congressman Lampson questioned Secretary Peters as to why the DOT issued multiple letters highlighting its views on this particular state legislature issue. These letters, in no uncertain terms, threatened to block federal highway funding for state roads if H.B. 1892 is implemented in its current form as passed.
“County officials are rightfully upset about the actions of Governor Perry, TxDOT, and the FHWA, and I will continue to work with them and my Texan colleagues in Congress to address their concerns in the future,” added Congressman Lampson.