Williamson tries to say tolling a local issue…HAH!

See Driscoll’s blog here.

Isn’t it interesting how Ric Williamson, Governor-appointed Chair of the Transportation Commission, is responsible for diverting gas tax money to projects NOT related to transportation when he was a State Rep. (See this post for proof.) and now tries to scare us with cooked-up stats that make it look like we had better tax the living daylights out of Texans just to get us to work! To hear Williamson is to hear “the sky is falling!” Message to Williamson: taxpayers aren’t going to allow you to charge us a whole new toll tax on what we’ve ALREADY BUILT AND PAID FOR, especially when we’d be dumping more money into your leaky boat!

Williamson also says we need to throw in some free market principles into the mix to ENCOURAGE private investment. You and I know what that means, it’s what Collin County Commissioners say “automatically translates into the highest tolls for our citizens” (See post here.) Another message to Williamson: as I stated in my presentation to the Commission Feb. 23, 2006, what you’re doing doesn’t remotely resemble free market principles. This is granting a monopoly to a private company over our PUBLICLY OWNED FREEWAYS! Read this post for more on how private investment in highway corridors DOES NOT CONSTITUTE FREE MARKET PRINCIPLES!

Then, David Casteel, our SA District Engineer, who apparently drinks the same Kool-Aid as the rest of the pro-tollers, starts spouting off growth and traffic “projections.” Read about faulty traffic projections for toll roads here. TxDOT clearly DOES NOT HAVE ONE SHRED OF CREDIBILITY LEFT!

March 07, 2006
Who really decides toll issue?

When state officials began talking about building toll roads in San Antonio a few years ago, they said they’ll do it whether the local community wants to take part or not.

But when it comes to using gas taxes to help construct local toll roads, that’s purely a local decision — at least that’s what state officials are saying now.

“The San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization is in control of those funds,” Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson said in a recent letter to state senators Jeff Wentworth and Frank Madla.

“This is a local and regional control issue,” the letter says.

Williamson was responding to letters from the senators, who were reacting to requests from county commissioners Lyle Larson and Tommy Adkisson to consider non-tolled options for widening U.S. 281 north of Loop 1604.

Besides saying the matter is out of the state’s hands, Williamson also said it’s important to look to free market economics and invite private-sector innovation to deal with tight budgets. He also threw in some scare stats:

Over the last 25 years, population increased 57 percent and driving increased 95 percent while new road lanes went up just 8 percent, and in the next 25 years, population will go up 64 percent and driving will jump 214 percent.

Meanwhile, David Casteel, district engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation in San Antonio, sent a letter to Larson and Adkisson to try and set a few things straight.

Casteel used a lot of space to explain why simply adding overpasses on U.S. 281 isn’t enough, that access roads would almost have to be continuous, which is similar to current express-lane/frontage-road designs. To build it without tolling the express lanes, money would have to be pulled from other projects.

“However, as part of the analysis for this corridor, our consultants will examine various alternatives and we will have them analyze your proposal,” the letter states.

See this post on why TxDOT is redoing its environmental evaluations for the U.S. 281 project.

Casteel also said 91,000 vehicles a day travel U.S. 281 just north of Loop 1604 and that those numbers will balloon to 160,000 by 2035.