Toll rates for 281 approved by MPO Board

Link to article here. See the Toll Party assessment of what happened at the MPO here.

ARROGANCE: “Nobody wants to pay tolls,” tolling authority board member Reynaldo Diaz said. “It’s just a fact of life, it’s going to happen.” That’s the attitude of UN-elected appointees of the tolling authority (Alamo RMA). You’re gettin’ these toll roads rammed down your throats whether you want them or not….we’re the elitists and we know best. Public vote? Bahumbug…we aren’t going to trifle with a little thing like democracy! Of course, he doesn’t tell you the overpasses have been paid for since 2003 and we don’t need toll roads to fix 281, period! This is a money grab!

The article misstates how many pro-tollers showed up. The reporter was sitting in the front, I was standing in the back. When the tollers stood up, only the first 5 or 6 rows stood. A good chunk of the last several rows were filled with city and county employees as well as TxDOT staff. I only counted about 40 people in favor. Also, at least 40 of our supporters were stuck outside and not allowed in due to the room reaching capacity.

This is not representative government. Critics outnumbered proponents (who will profit from the roads) 3 to 1, yet they Board still voted in favor. What does that tell you? As long as 9 appointees whose jobs depend on them voting for the establishment, we’ll NEVER have representation!We’ve been in front of this MPO for more than 2 years and no matter how many people turn out to oppose tolls, these bought and paid for board members continue to ram toll roads through! Let the people vote!
See the voting record of the MPO Board members after the first story.

First toll lanes on 281 set for December 2010
Patrick Driscoll
Express-News
12/04/2007

Just one day after getting more public funds to help pay for a planned U.S. 281 tollway, a local agency Tuesday set a schedule to open the first toll lanes in December 2010.

Those 4 miles will run from Loop 1604 past Stone Oak Boulevard, according to the timetable approved by the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority board.

Another 4 miles, to Comal County, would open in June 2012, six years ahead of a calendar used in a finance study that had all 8 miles opening in stages from 2011 to 2018.

“The timeline schedule that we set on this is just screaming,” authority Chairman Bill Thornton said.

The tollway could open even sooner if the contractor works fast, collecting $10,000 for each day shaved off of each of the project’s two segments.

But if the contractor’s late, daily penalties would be $10,000 for the first 4 miles and $20,000 for the rest.

Motorists will ride free the first two months and pay just half-price the third month when each section opens. Full fees in 2012 will be 17 cents per mile for cars and will rise annually with consumer inflation.

The existing highway lanes will be replaced with non-toll access roads.

“Nobody wants to pay tolls,” board member Reynaldo Diaz said. “It’s just a fact of life, it’s going to happen.”

On Monday, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, an intergovernmental board that signs off on area tollway and highway projects, voted 12-4 to approve U.S. 281 toll rates.

The MPO board also shifted $43 million in public funds from other toll projects to help pay for U.S. 281 toll lanes. A total of $112 million in public money will subsidize the $476 million cost to ramp the system up.

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December 04, 2007
Board sets U.S. 281 toll rates
Express-News
It took toll roads to turn a quiet planning board into a red-hot public forum, and it took a vote Monday on setting toll rates to pack in a record crowd.

11545196 - TOLL ROAD 1 JD - 12_03_2007.jpg
(John Davenport / Express-News)
Toll critics, who mostly congregated on the east side of the aisle at a VIA Metro Center room Monday while advocates stuck to the west side, applaud one of more than 30 speakers at a Metropolitan Planning Organization board meeting Monday.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization, an intergovernmental board that until a couple of years ago was familiar mostly to policymakers and road industry officials, voted 12-4 to approve rates for the proposed U.S. 281 tollway.

Unlike years ago, before “toll” became a buzzword on talk radio and in the media, the vote didn’t happen in a sedentary meeting where officials fought back yawns.

How they voted

FOR

  • Windcrest Mayor Jack Leonhardt
  • Selma City Councilman Bill Weeper
  • County Commissioner Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez
  • County Infrastructure Director Joe Aceves
  • San Antonio City Councilwoman Sheila McNeil
  • San Antonio City Councilwoman Diane Cibrian
  • San Antonio Aviation Director Mark Webb
  • San Antonio Deputy City Manager Jelynne Burley
  • Texas Department of Transportation engineer David Casteel
  • Texas Department of Transportation engineer Clay Smith
  • VIA Metropolitan Transit board member Ruby Perez
  • VIA Metropolitan Transit board member Hank Brummett

AGAINST

  • State Rep. Carlos Uresti
  • State Rep. David Leibowitz
  • County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
  • County Commissioner Lyle Larson

ABSTAINED

  • AACOG Director Gloria Arriaga

ABSENT

  • San Antonio City Councilman Philip Cortez
  • San Antonio City Councilman Justin Rodriguez

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