FYI, Sen. Tom Carper is the guy who introduced an amendment to allow tolls on all existing interstates in all 50 states during the last highway bill debate. This would lift the ban on tolling existing highways built with federal funds in Texas. BEWARE! This is who is at the table deciding what goes in the next highway bill on Congress!
Senators Agree on Highway Bill Principles
April 11, 2014
By Oliver Patton
A bipartisan group of Senators has agreed on the outline of bill to reauthorize the federal highway program.
The terms of the deal cover policy principles such as a long-term bill and maintaining existing programs but they do not cover the key question of how to pay for the program.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, announced the deal on Thursday and said the committee will act on the bill when it returns from recess the last week of April.
P3s are not a good deal for taxpayers or the public interest. They don't bring money to the table, the taxpayers are still going to pay for every cent of these projects - and pay more because of the private corporations doing them. What's the point of getting a project done faster if no one can afford to actually drive on it?
We're not solving congestion with P3s, just manipulating traffic for private profit. The cost of borrowing private capital versus public capital makes P3s cost more, not to mention politicians who allow corporations to control and set toll rates and extract the highest possible toll from the traveling public upon threat of losing their car registration or even going to jail (for failure to appear in court)!
Private money, public projects: More U.S. states doing deals
By Hilary Russ
April 14, 2014
(Reuters) - Visitors to New York who land at LaGuardia Airport could be forgiven for not realizing they've arrived in one of the world's swankiest cities.
The airport's leaky ceilings, threadbare atmosphere and meager food and public transit options put it at or near the top of lists of the worst airports in the United States.
They should have pulled the plug on this toll road long ago. It’s a dangerous boondoggle to benefit well-connected developers, not the average commuter. It barely passed the public vote in the first place. There are better uses for scarce road funds.
Dallas council briefed on risk of Trinity toll road floods
By ROBERT WILONSKY
Dallas Morning News
April 14, 2014
A 9-mile toll road proposed inside the Trinity River levees would extend about 535 feet into the floodway for much of its length and run right next to the river in some spots.
Dallas City Council members also learned during a presentation Monday that the road would include a “flood separation wall” that’s not even as high as the existing levees and would necessitate an evacuation plan in the event of a 100-year flood.
From the Daily Paul:
Since 1803 when the Louisiana Purchase was completed, there has been a controversy over the boundary between Oklahoma and Texas. The boundary is supposed to be the vegetation line on the south side of the Red River. But the River has moved over time. The problem is the definition of that boundary line - Oklahoma and Texas each use different semantics to define it. And the BLM is finding ways to use the disputed words to give them the ability to seize the land.
According to the BLM, the Red River is always Accretion (gradual accumulation of sediment) to the south, and always Avulsion (rapid formation of a new river channel) to the north. So according to the BLM, the boundary only moves one direction, never in the direction that favors the ranchers. They are looking to re-draw the entire portion of the Red River boundary. That includes 90,000 acres of land along a 116 mile stretch of the river.
U.S. Officials End Tense Standoff Between Nevada Rancher, Federal Government
By Oliver Darcy
April 12, 2014
A tense standoff between a local Nevada rancher and the federal government concluded Saturday, with U.S. officials citing public safety concerns as they ended a controversial week-long cattle roundup that drew nationwide attention.
“Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public,” Neil Kornze, director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, said in a statement.
Oklahoma has a better toll road system than Texas
By Letters to the Editor
Dallas Morning News
March 20, 2014
Recently I traveled to Oklahoma, and I paid my toll at a manned toll both in Chandler. It also had a Prairie Speed Pass option. Manned booths coupled with electronic booths are necessary everywhere. The REAL people can help drivers who are lost or help find gas stations, and one doesn’t have to pay the enormous processing fees when the toll bill comes in the mail.
It also provides local jobs which support the local economy.
I have been on toll roads in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas. Unfortunately my home state of Texas is the only with all automated tolls where the poor and visitors end up paying the most fees. We have eliminated manned booths and jobs that help the local economy, and we are not available to help visitors and those who are lost to help with directions and services.
Please bring back at least one manned booth on the automated massive and growing toll road system in Texas.
— Gabrielle Gordon, Unincorporated Tarrant County
The Washington Times Editorial Board is exactly right. P3s do not benefit the traveling public -- only the private cronies who walk away with the booty.
EDITORIAL: Innovative cronies
‘Private’ toll roads lead to good fortune only for the boodlers
Friday, March 21, 2014
Budget season is here, and an endless stream of lobbyists are making their annual pilgrimage to Capitol Hill to beg for alms. It’s something the transportation industry does well, considering that the promise of eliminating potholes pleases everybody but mechanics and tire salesmen. Some of the lobbyists, even some conservatives with more appetite than conviction, are pushing toll roads and mileage-tax schemes in the guise of reducing traffic congestion. It’s a trap.
Toll roads are all the rage with those who expect to get rich with deals called “innovative” public-private partnerships. The idea of tossing a coin into a basket for the privilege of traveling on a road is a stale and frayed idea that only seems fresh.
Share of State & Local Road Spending Covered by User Fees and User Taxes
January 07, 2014
By Richard Borean
This week’s map comes from a report we released earlier this week that looks at how state and local road spending is funded. This map looks specifically at the share of state and local road spending covered by user fees and user taxes.
As Joseph Henchman explained in his report:
The lion’s share of transportation funding should come from user fees (amounts a user pays directly for a service the user receives, such as tolls) and user taxes (amounts a user pays, based on usage, for transportation, such as fuel and motor vehicle license taxes). When road funding comes from a mix of tolls and gasoline taxes, the people that use the roads bear a sizeable portion of the cost. By contrast, funding transportation out of general revenue makes roads “free,” and consequently, overused or congested—often the precise problem transportation spending programs are meant to solve.
Delaware comes in first place due to 78.6 percent of its road spending being funded by user fees and user taxes. Hawaii (77.3%) and Florida (68.8%) are close behind. By contrast, Alaska (10.5%), South Dakota (21.5%), Wyoming (24.5%), and Louisiana (25.4) raise little of their transportation spending from user fees and user taxes, instead subsidizing it heavily with general revenues.
All maps and other graphics may be published and reposted with credit to the Tax Foundation.
Is this really the best use of our law enforcement officers? It's likely to cost more to contract with law enforcement to collect the unpaid tolls than the cost of the tolls themselves.
Watch out, toll scofflaws: TxDOT may impound your car
By Andra Lim
Austin American Statesman
Friday, March 21, 2014
ROUND ROCK — Each month, Charles Ackridge is supposed to make a dent in the $40,000 or so a court decided he owed for thousands of unpaid tolls.
The Austin man sent his one and only payment, about $350, in 2009. But for years he’s taken the Texas 45 and Texas 130 tollways to get around town.
TxDOT plans to soon try a new way of reeling in the top toll scofflaws like Ackridge. It will partner with law enforcement agencies to impound cars that have racked up at least 100 violations within a year but continue to drive on tollways. A vehicle wouldn’t be released until the owner made good on the toll bill.
Tax hike? Lawmaker tells road lobby gas tax hike coming
By Terri Hall
March 21, 2014
Texas State Rep. Drew Darby told a friendly crowd of road builders that he’ll continue to push for a gas tax hike to help shore-up the State’s road funding shortfalls at yesterday’s San Antonio Mobility Coalition (SAMCo) luncheon. Darby supported a bill to capture half of the vehicle sales tax receipts, raise the gas tax 10 cents a gallon, and double vehicle registration fees during the legislative session last year. So his support of gas tax hikes are well known. But what makes his comments to SAMCo so newsworthy is his open mockery of those who have a problem with ending the raid of gas taxes for non-road purposes.
The biggest diversion of gas tax goes to public education by constitutional amendment (twenty-five percent). The next goes to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) which gets roughly five percent. The constitution does say the gas tax can go to policing state highways, but that’s a small amount of the DPS budget. The Texas legislature has raided additional sums to the tune of billions over the last several decades for anything from computers in the Comptroller’s office to enhancing employee benefits in the Attorney General’s office. Taxpayers want accountability for those funds and restitution before any tax hikes are contemplated.
New York uses toll tags to track motorists
By Kit Daniels
March 24, 2014
New York traffic agencies are tracking motorists across the state by connecting to their toll tags mounted to their windshields, even when the drivers are no where near a toll booth.
Both the New York City Department of Transportation and Transcom, a traffic management agency, admitted that for nearly 20 years they have been using antennas to connect to E-ZPass toll tags in vehicles driving across more than 3,000 miles of public, non-toll roads, not just in New York but neighboring states as well.
Lawsuit alleges overcharging by Florida SunPass
By David Tanner
Land Line Magazine
March 20, 2014
A Florida car hauler has filed a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Transportation’s toll collection agency, SunPass.
John Northrup, doing business as Angie’s Transportation out of Plant City, Fla., seeks to “recover excessive tolls charged under FDOT’s SunPass system,” according to the lawsuit filed Feb. 21 in the Circuit Court of the Second Judicial Circuit for Leon County, Fla.
In addition to monetary damages, Northrup seeks declaratory and injunctive relief for breach of contract by the named defendants – the Florida Department of Transportation and FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad in his official capacity.
We say 'Amen' to Larson's thoughts that the $92 million in road funds that were stolen to build the street car downtown where there's no congestion should be reallocated to fix 1604 or 281 without tolls. We've been saying that since the street car first came online...
Larson: Streetcar "Unethical and Possibly Illegal," Should be Killed
By Jim Forsyth
March 18, 2014
The heat on VIA, Bexar County and the City of San Antonio is being cranked up to boiling levels as pressure increases to kill the controversial downtown streetcar plan, or at least call an election to see if there is any support at all for the project.
In letters to the county, VIA Chairman Alex Briseno, and the Texas Transportation Commission, influential State Rep. Lyle Larson says he has not seen a 'more divisive issue in this community over the last two decades.'
Drew Darby is trying to re-write history and say he didn't advocate for gas tax hike to a room full of road builders last week, but he's parsing words. His chief of staff insisted that the WOAI news story below be edited. However, Darby did indeed advocate for a gas tax hike without directly saying, "I'm for a gas tax hike." He used phrases like 'smart' and 'courageous' lawmakers know we need to raise the gas tax. He supported a bill to do just that last session as well as one that would have doubled vehicle registration fees. Darby also mocked those who want an end to gas tax diversions before any gas tax hike is on the table. Read my article on it here or here.
Gas Tax Hike Touted for Transportation Woes
By Jim Forsyth
March 21, 2014
The Texas Legislature’s point man on transportation funding says Texas motorists need to understand that a higher gas tax would be a more 'open and transparent' way of dealing head on with the state's transportation crisis than the 'congestion tax' that motorists are currently paying every day.
"I think we need to revert to pay as your go," State Re. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) told the San Antonio Mobility Coalition. "Nine times members of the Legislature have raised the gasoline tax to pay for our transportation infrastructure, but that hasn't happened since 1991. Since then, however, we have said we don't want to deal with the open and visible tax, we would rather pay an invisible tax."
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- Senate reaches deal on highway bill
- States turn to P3s to get projects done
- Council briefed on risks of Trinity Toll Road
- Feds seeks to seize 90,000 acres at Texas border
- Stand-off with Nevada rancher ends for now
- Gas Tax Hike Touted for Transportation Woes
- Larson: Streetcar "Unethical and Possibly Illegal," Should be Killed
- Trucker files lawsuit for overcharging by Florida toll system
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Latest Press Releases
- TURF prevails, lawsuit moves forward, allows depositions of TxDOT’s top brass
- Texas Senate votes to gouge citizens with "market based" tolls
- Anti-toll candidates sweep in many key races
- Public drain for private gain: Prop 6 rural water raid to benefit developers
- Dirty trick: TxDOT bypasses legislature to enact law using rule change
- Texans ask Perry to veto bill to hand 23 Texas roads to foreign entities
- Targeted tax: Residents ask Perry to veto fee hike on Bexar County
- Texas for Sale: Texas roads may be handed to private, foreign toll operators