NOT TOO LATE TO GET YOUR COMMENTS ON RECORD!
Be sure you’re on record against the tolling of 281 by submitting comments to US281@hntb.com through April 10. If you do not receive an automatic reply that they received your email, call (210) 349-2277.
Some major points to make:
(Feel free to use the wording from our petition here. Click on “Send this Message” to view and copy wording.)
• Not USER fee, EVERY TOLL PLAN USES OUR GAS TAX DOLLARS (but can’t drive on it unless you pay a toll , too…it’s DOUBLE taxation)See Larson’s comments here.
• Plan to charge 281 drivers to fund toll lanes on 1604…this is a totally unnecessary tax grab by unelected bureaucrats!
• They say you’ll have a choice, but the choice is tollway or access roads, NO NON-TOLL EXPRESSWAY! ONLY NON-TOLL is frontage lanes. Once interchange built, no non-toll interchange!
• (Hwy 45 outside Round Rock just had heated public meetings a few weeks ago because the free lanes have been REMOVED from that project…there will NOT always be a non-toll choice as they promise.) TxDOT and the pro-tollers cannot be trusted!
2) HNTB hired by TxDOT to conduct “independent” environmental study
• Member of SAMCo/Greater Chamber, both pushing tolls
• Conflict of interest/bias
• By law, supposed to consider alternatives…glaring choice is TxDOT’s own plan already funded for 2 years. It’s less invasive, less expensive, less construction time and it’s free…that everyone can drive!
3) Foreign management/secret contracts, no cap on the toll rates, spending $1.2 million just to negotiate contract for a year. 83% of Americans OPPOSE foreign management of our public infrastructure and yet they’re spending your tax money and taking your land and handing it over to foreign companies. (Info here.)
• Suing AG to keep secret (Houston Chronicle)
4) COST: Original plan, $48 mil. Tollway $83 mil.
• Gas tax, pennies day, tolls are dollars a day
• Toll rates of 29 cents to a $1.00 a mile in TxDOT’s own documents…tolls will add $3,000 a year average commuter. Economic hardship to consumers and business alike will hurt the economy, affect home values in corridor, etc.!
The very unscientific study TxDOT presented at the 281 public meetings is detailed on Express-News reporter Pat Driscoll’s blog today.
Of the 97 (TxDOT self-selected) people who submitted a survey, 65% want the congestion relief but don’t want to pay a toll to get it. Yet TxDOT is in negotiations right now with two foreign companies to control our publicly funded infrastructure, Hwy. 281, for the next 50 years. Sure seems TxDOT has already arrived at a pre-determined conclusion and this is just going through the motions. It’s also abundantly clear TxDOT and politicians proceed at their own peril! It was mentioned how the Toll Party vote helped un-seat Carter Casteel in District 73 and how that will have a ripple effect come November! The public is not behind this and will NEVER be behind this money grab, DOUBLE tax scheme that takes what belongs ONLY to Texans and hands it over to a foreign company! Are we Texans or what? Are we going to stand a stand and draw a line in the sand or not?
March 29, Reagan High School:
WE had a TON of folks turn out to speak against the toll plans, demand the original plan to be installed, and much more! We had a petition table and our “toll booth” box as well as fine citizens handing out fliers. We’ve subsequently added dozens to our membership and even got some donations. Well-informed citizens spoke eloquently touching on just about every major concern with the toll plans, economic, impact to residents, our aquifer, the economic impacts, the foreign management, etc. The audience was clearly behind us as evidenced by the animated applause for those who stood against the tolls.
Those in the highway lobby who dared show their faces were SAMCO (Joe Krier and his Exec. Dir., Vic Boyer, were both there) as well as the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Terrell McCombs, and others.
March 30, Bush Middle School: TxDOT’s POWER grab OUTRAGEOUS!
Right out the gate, the most outrageous abuse of power took place! Clay Smith of TxDOT, who moderated the public comment period, told one our supporters to face him instead of the audience. Our guy said, “But I would like to talk to them, not you.” After speaking back and forth a bit, Smith called armed police officers over to escort him out of the building for simply wanting to face the PUBLIC while he gave PUBLIC comments about a PUBLIC highway! Who does TxDOT think they are? What law was this gentlemen breaking? They actually tried to eject a concerned citizen for not paying hommage to TxDOT!? Now a state agency can demand what direction one’s body is facing in a public meeting? Share your thoughts with the Governor and how you feel about his toll plan and how his Department of Transportation treats the citizens of this state.
Like the night before, the audience was clearly behind us and firmly entrenched against tolls! However, the highway lobby was present. The RMA had a heavy presence which I thought was interesting since Bill Thornton went out of his way to mention at the debate (See blog here.) that the 281 lawsuit and project was a TxDOT project not theirs. Hmmm, why is it that you were at the public meeting for the 281 project, then, Mr. Thornton? I can tell you why…TxDOT along with the RMA are in negotiations right now with two foreign companies to control our publicly funded infrastructure, Hwy. 281, for the next 50 years. RMA Board member Bob Thompson, Lyle Larson’s appointee, stood up to speak (and DID NOT IDENTIFY HIMSELF AS AN RMA BOARD MEMBER), his comments were weak (basically said we ought to proceed carefully), and DID NOT ACCURATELY REFLECT Larson’s very STRONG stand against the tolling of 281! Share your thoughts with Commissioner Larson here.
TxDOT also did a BIG no, no in how it collected comments on this project….BREAKING NEWS SOON!