Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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NOW ONLINE - Full movie!


Truth Be Tolled is essential viewing for anyone who wants to understand how big money interests and government bureaucrats are hell bent on tolling Texas highways in spite of an overwhelming taxpayer opposition.

Think tank rips 'anti-toll housewife'

Link to article here.

Reason Foundation comes unhinged at populist revolt against tolls
By Terri Hall
August 27, 2014

Bob Poole
of the Reason Foundation has decided to pick a fight he can’t win.

He just published an article personally attacking anti-toll group leaders across the nation, and he had a extra special below-the-belt attack saved just for yours truly. He’s responding to the populist anti-toll revolt taking place in America, and he can’t help but go on the attack because these grassroots efforts are finally making progress. He’s lashing out in response to a 5-page cover story in the Weekly Standard that slammed the new rage among transportation think tanks like Reason, called HOT lanes. It stands for High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. Sometimes they convert existing HOV lanes into toll lanes, other times they’re new lanes but only open to carpoolers and those who pay tolls.

The author, Jonathan Last, used many of the same terms to describe this wrong-headed policy as the anti-toll groups do - government picking winners and losers, crony capitalism, privatized profits, socialized losses, Lexus lanes, etc. If the shoes fits, and it does, it’s not hard for liberty-minded people to come to the same conclusions all by themselves. They can spot a scam when they see one. But Poole asks, ‘Where do these ideas come from?’ Or more to his point, who is promoting ideas in opposition to his libertarian ivory tower theory-world of road pricing?

Read more: Think tank rips 'anti-toll housewife'


Cintra's private meetings backfire in N.C.

Link to article and watch the tv report here.

Leaders, community question private meetings on toll lanes
By Jim Bradley
Wed., August 20, 2014

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Elected officials from towns north of Charlotte will have the chance to talk with the company that wants to build tolls lanes on Interstate 77 but the public won't be allowed in.

A series of private meetings have been set up for Thursday between the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Cintra and leaders in Huntersville, Davidson and Mooresville.  
Cintra was awarded a contract to build additional lanes along I-77 between Charlotte and Mooresville in exchange for collecting the toll revenue paid by drivers. 
The proposal has been controversial and so have the Thursday meetings.

"To me, it sounds like a secret meeting. When the DOT said they're going to have meetings with Cintra, they're going to be made available. I expected meetings that would involve everybody. Not just elected officials," said Huntersville Town Commissioner Rob Kidwell.  

Other critics of the toll lanes jumped into the fray too. 
Vince Winegardner, with the group WidenI77, said the closed-door meetings raise even more questions about the project. 

"If this is a done deal and the decision has been made, why do we have to have private meetings? Why can't they discuss this in public?” he said.

The DOT said the meetings with Cintra are to provide one-on-one time for local leaders to get information from Cintra.  
DOT said public meetings are scheduled in September. 

As for Thursday's meetings for elected officials only, Kidwell said he won't attend. 

"We should be able to ask those questions in the open, get the direct answers into the open because the people who put us in office deserve to know that," Kidwell said.

Editorial: Beware of P3s

Link to article here.

A caution on P3s: Let elected officials and the public beware
August 17, 2014 12:00 AM
By the Editorial Board
Pittsburg-Post Gazette

When it comes to public-private partnerships, so-called “P3s,” the old adage — let the buyer beware — needs to be updated for governments planning to join with private companies to do public work or assume a public function.

Let the public deal-maker beware. Let the public beware, too.

Read more: Editorial: Beware of P3s

Perry's indictment called 'suspect,' yet he ignored a crony's drunk driving arrest

Link to article here.

Perry’s indictment called ‘suspect,’ yet he ignored Krusee’s drunk driving arrest
By Terri Hall
August 16, 2014

The Republican Party is predictably coming to the aid of one of its own, Governor Rick Perry, who was indicted yesterday on two felony counts stemming from alleged abuses of power. Perry threatened to veto funding for the Travis County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit if District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg didn’t resign due to her drunk driving conviction. She didn’t resign, and Perry vetoed the unit’s funding. A Texas Grand Jury found probable cause that the governor committed crimes of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant when it handed down two indictments. If found guilty, Perry could face up to 109 years in prison.

Perry’s attorney, Mary Ann Wiley, says he was acting within his constitutional powers to veto such legislation last year. The Democrat-controlled Travis County District Attorney’s office has been called into question before for its highly political case brought against Republican Congressman Tom Delay for allegedly using corporate money to influence elections. He was convicted in Travis County, but it was later overturned by an appellate court. So many are crying foul that Perry’s case is more of the same.

Read more: Perry's indictment called 'suspect,' yet he ignored a crony's drunk driving arrest

See how many drivers are paying tolls to drive on I-635, I-35E

Link to article here.

This is hogwash and lazy reporting. The number of toll transactions is NOT the same thing as the number of cars per day, nor is it the same as unique drivers per day. Just as a web site can boast thousands of hits per day, what advertisers really use to judge the site’s effectiveness is UNIQUE visitors per day. So this notion that somehow 7,000 transactions means 7,000 unique drivers is fallacious. A toll transaction is one time under a toll gantry. So on a 5-mile trip, one car can post 3-5 toll transactions (one every few miles or so). Then they post an equal number on their return trip, so one driver can post around 10 toll transactions per day for one round trip on just a 5-mile toll road.

Yet these business reporters seem to think they can talk-up the DFW toll roads as a success (as if they’re somehow well-liked) by printing whatever the private company says without one word of scrutiny. They should also compare how many drivers are using the toll lanes versus how many drivers are on the free lanes. That’ll give us a breakdown of what percentage of drivers on these multi-billion dollar tollways (built with tax money) are actually benefiting from the new capacity (for a hefty price tag). I’d also be instructive to know what the average cost per trip is during peak hours.

See how many drivers are paying tolls to drive on I-635, I-35E
By Nicholas Sakelaris
Staff Writer- Dallas Business Journal
August 15, 2014

The managed toll lanes on the LBJ Express attract about 20,000 drivers per day on the two phases that are open, according to the contractor.

Read more: See how many drivers are paying tolls to drive on I-635, I-35E

Salzman: The Pitfalls of P3s

Link to article here.

Read Randy Salzman’s entire expose on P3s in the June/July 2014 Issue of Thinking Highways here.

Salzman's work is most comprehensive look at the dangers of P3s to date. It's a must read for citizens and policymakers alike.

A "Model" Scheme?
Thursday, 14 August 2014 00:00 By Randy Salzman, Thinking Highways | News Analysis

With about two-thirds of America's new transportation construction "public-private-partnerships," design-build P3s have been highly praised over the last decade. Contractors, politicians and financiers have been claiming that tiny slivers of private money bring efficiency to the formerly public process of highway building, spurring innovation and freeing taxpayer dollars for other key needs. But as Randy Salzman discovers, it's not without its problems

In the media, congress and across the political world, promoters pushing design-build public-private partnerships (P3s) are still claiming that private innovation is saving taxpayer money, creating good jobs and easing congestion.

Read more: Salzman: The Pitfalls of P3s

Victor Vandergriff: Why not every North Texas highway can be tolled

Link to article here.

Victor Vandergriff: Why not every North Texas highway can be tolled
By Nicholas Sakelaris
Staff Writer- Dallas Business Journal
August 14, 2014

Years ago, transportation planners made a decision that nearly all new highway capacity in North Texas would have a toll component, either tolled highways or managed lanes.

Looking back, Victor Vandergriff, Texas Transportation Commissioner, says he wondered at the time how people would react to that and how they would hold the decision-makers accountable for that once it came to fruition.

That time is now.

Read more: Victor Vandergriff: Why not every North Texas highway can be tolled

So-called 'conservative' highway bill pushes toll taxes, privatization

Link to column here.

Conservatives introduce “TEA” highway bill that scraps federal program, but pushes tolls, P3s, & transit boondoggles
While Graves, Lee and Rubio may believe they’re offloading their federal gas tax revenue problem to the states, in reality, they’re seeking to compound the problem 50-fold; the states aren’t any better than the feds on transportation funding. We should not be encouraging more tolling of any kind, whether at the federal or state level. Tolls are a tax. The principle of “pay-as-you-go” must be applied at both the federal and state levels. Indeed, it must be legislated.
By Terri Hall | August 13, 2014
SFPPR News & Analysis

A group of conservative congressmen filed a bill to scrap the federal highway program and devolve the task of building and maintaining America’s highway system to the states. U.S. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the bill dubbed the Transportation Empowerment Act or the TEA Act – H.R. 3486 in the House and S. 1702 in the Senate. The TEA acronym harkens back to the Agenda 21-inspired Transportation Equity Act (TEA) series of highway bills that opened the door to a multi-national highway system, so-called ‘innovative financing’ schemes, and widespread tolling – even imposing tolls on existing interstates.

Read more: So-called 'conservative' highway bill pushes toll taxes, privatization

TxDOT hearings a sham

Link to article here.

Houghton knows better. MPO staff and TxDOT staff run everything. The MPO boards have no idea what they’re voting on. Plenty of elected officials complain they can’t get their projects into the MPO plans and they have no idea how the process works. The Alamo Area MPO meets during the day in a transit center downtown (not near any of the neighborhoods where toll roads will be) with NO public parking. We’ve had people get their cars towed and get parking tickets just to attend an MPO meeting. Then they gripe the public doesn’t show up. Really?  When we have showed up by the hundreds, they NEVER once vote in favor of what the public says they want (which is no tolls). Not once in 10 years. 

Read more: TxDOT hearings a sham

Pittsburg-Gazette 4-part series on P3s

Link to article here.

The 'P3' dilemma: How effective are public-private partnerships?
By Len Boselovic / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
August 10, 2014
The first of a four-part series.

Cash-strapped governments around the country that are reluctant to raise taxes are increasingly plunging forward with bold experiments: enlisting investment banks, pension funds and other eager investors to fund billions of dollars of highway, bridge and other infrastructure projects.

In Chicago, then-Mayor Richard M. Daley plugged a short-term budget gap in 2009 by turning over 36,000 metered parking spaces for 75 years to a private venture organized by Morgan Stanley. With little information and little time to analyze the transaction, Chicago’‍s city council overwhelmingly embraced the deal and its upfront payment of $1.2 billion.

At about the same time, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl had considered a $452 million plan to rehabilitate his city’‍s woefully underfunded pension plans by privatizing parking. City council members rejected it.

Read more: Pittsburg-Gazette 4-part series on P3s

Another taxpayer bailout of SH 130 truck toll rates

Link to article here.

This is a taxpayer funded BAILOUT of the SH 130 foreign-owned toll road. The state of Texas needs to terminate this contract immediately and take this highway back. It's an absolute OUTRAGE that TxDOT is using tax money to give truckers discount toll rates while autos pay the sticker price. Of course, the state can artificially make the traffic appear higher than it would be otherwise with this not so veiled bailout. This sort of manipulation to prop-up a failure only prolongs the inevitable, which is bankruptcy. Terminate it and get this road back for the taxpayers.

TxDOT works to bring toll discounts back to truckers on SH 130
By Amanda Brandeis
August 1, 2014
KXAN-TV, Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Interstate 35 is a major artery in our city, but is often clogged with traffic. The Texas Department of Transportation says it has a solution.

The department again wants to lower tolls for big rigs on the SH 130 toll road, hoping to push truckers off the interstate. The stretch of I-35 that runs through downtown from U.S. 183 down to SH 71 is the most congested stretch of roadway in Texas, according to TxDOT.

During a pilot program in 2013, the number of trucks on SH 130 rose 44 percent. But the program ended when the funds dried up.

Read more: Another taxpayer bailout of SH 130 truck toll rates

P3 toll roads: short-term gain, long-term pain

Link to article here.

Toll roads, P3s and creative financing will bring short-term gain, long-term disaster for the road building industry
By Tom Jackson
Equipment World
August 1, 2014

For the last half-century gas and diesel taxes collected at the pump have been the primary source of funding for almost all our highway infrastructure. But Congress hasn’t  increased the gas tax or adjusted it for inflation since 1992.

Anti-tax advocates claim this as a victory, but it’s not. With the highway trust fund running dry, the government has been borrowing money from the general fund to pay for a minimum of maintenance and few improvements. Instead of paying at the pump, we’re paying through a combination of income and business taxes and deficit financing.

Read more: P3 toll roads: short-term gain, long-term pain

Senate rejects scrapping federal role in transportation

Link to article here.

US Senate Rejects Diminished Federal Transportation Role
US Senate votes for stop-gap funding measure, rejecting overhaul of transportation funding mechanism.
July 30, 2014

The US Senate on Tuesday voted 79 to 18 to pass a modified version of the stop-gap measure providing funding for federal transportation projects that cleared the House earlier this month. The upper chamber rejected a plan offered by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) with a 28 to 69 vote that would have phased out the system where gas tax funds collected at the state level are sent to Washington and then redistributed to the states with strings attached.

"This amendment is the end of the federal highway system," Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-California) said. "The states oppose it... It would result in an immediate eighty percent cut to our states."

Read more: Senate rejects scrapping federal role in transportation

Streetcar funds should be redirected to expand 281 without tolls

Link to article here.

Streetcar funds should be redirected to expand 281 without tolls
By Terri Hall
July 29, 2014

Undoubtedly, most San Antonians have heard the great news that the city and county have pulled their support for the downtown streetcar plan. Naturally it begs the question, so where will those dollars go now? Anti-toll groups, Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) and Texans for Toll-free Highways (TTH) call on the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the city, and county to permanently scrap the street car and use those funds to expand US 281 North (outside Loop 1604 to the county line) without tolls.

Both Sen. Donna Campbell and Rep. Lyle Larson have repeatedly called for the street car funds to be redirected to US 281, and today they teamed up to send off a joint letter requesting the Texas Transportation Commission reallocate the money to US 281 in light of the latest developments.

Read more: Streetcar funds should be redirected to expand 281 without tolls

State contract agent gets prison time stealing federal, state highway funds

Link to article here.

State contract agent gets prison time stealing federal, state highway funds
By Charlie Morasch
Land Line Magazine
July 28, 2014

A former state contract agent used his power to acquire rights of way for state highway projects to steal nearly $1 million in federal transportation funds. Now he’ll be spending two years in federal prison after being caught in what investigators called a “pyramid scheme.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, Michael W. Young worked as a contract agent for the state of Tennessee between 2004 and 2012. As part of Young’s duties, the Clermont, Fla., man purchased property rights of way for road expansion projects designed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Read more: State contract agent gets prison time stealing federal, state highway funds

Federal highway program gridlock: Bills push tolls and P3s as quick fix

Link to article here.

Federal highway program gridlock: Bills push tolls and P3s as quick fix
By Terri Hall
July 28, 2014

The Federal Highway Trust Fund is going broke. The 18.4 cents a gallon in gasoline tax levied by the federal government is no longer sufficient to fund the highway program. The current federal highway bill, MAP-21, expires next month. The House passed a short term extension bill that puts off the pain until after the mid-term elections in November, and it remains to be seen what short-term fix the Senate will pass, but we’ll be right back where we started next May.

Rather than discipline the use of the fund to restrict it to highways only, the feds continue to divert significant gas tax revenue to transit programs that auto users do not benefit from. If ending transit diversions still isn’t sufficient to fund the program, then indexing the gas tax to inflation (with a cap to protect against runaway inflation) is preferable to a massive increase in tolling and selling off our public highways to private, even foreign, corporations in public private partnerships known as P3s.

Read more: Federal highway program gridlock: Bills push tolls and P3s as quick fix

Toll special interests hijack highway bill

Link to article here.

Tolling lobbyists attempt to hijack highway funding discussion
By David Tanner,
Land Line Magazine
July 23, 2014

A pro-tolling lobby group attempted to steer the discussion about highway and bridge funding this week toward interstate tolls. Fortunately, an alliance that supports toll-free interstates is in place to counter their arguments.

The plot thickened this week when U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and 11 former transportation secretaries including Ray LaHood joined together in a letter to Congress to urge long-term solutions to road, bridge and transit funding.

The letter did not even sniff the issue of tolling, but that didn’t stop the pro-tolling group, the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, from glomming on in an attempt to make the discussion about tolls.

Read more: Toll special interests hijack highway bill

TX Railroad Commission to close eminent domain loophole, but groups say still too vague

Link to article here.

TX Railroad Commission to close eminent domain loophole, but still too vague
By Terri Hall
July 25, 2014

The Texas Railroad Commission, that regulates the oil and gas industry, recently proposed a new rule to close the so-called ’T-4’ loophole that’s long allowed private pipeline companies to claim common carrier status by simply checking a box on a one-page form and gain eminent domain authority.

In 2011, the Texas Supreme Court said in its Denbury Green decision that companies need to prove they’re truly a public use pipeline, known as a common carrier, before they obtain or exercise eminent domain powers. It quickly became an issue with the Keystone Pipeline, which TransCanada claimed to be a Texas common carrier and used eminent domain for its private international pipeline.

The proposed rule would give the Commission the ability to revoke a permit if a company violates the law, giving the Commission enforcement powers that it currently doesn’t have. It would also mandate permits must be renewed on an annual basis. The legislature contemplated at least four bills to fix the problem last year, but none of them passed. While the Railroad Commission rule makes an effort to quell the controversy, it stops short of fixing the problem.

Read more: TX Railroad Commission to close eminent domain loophole, but groups say still too vague

Dallas commuters paying the price for highway underfunding

Link to article here.

These new urbanists seem to think building more failed mass transit projects will solve the gridlock problem on our highways. HOV lanes haven't worked, nor has urban rail, bike lanes, or any other wasteful transit spending. Gas tax should go exclusively to building and maintaining our highways. Stop the social engineering and transit boondoggles that have only made congestion worse, not better.

Drivers in Dallas, across state pay price for aging highways
Published: 23 July 2014
Dallas Morning News

Texans have dodged higher federal and state gas taxes for decades, but it doesn’t mean their wallets are getting any fatter.

A study from a transportation nonprofit released Wednesday said aging roadways and continued traffic congestion cost drivers in the state more than $25.1 billion every year.

Research group TRIP concludes that those conditions lead to vehicle maintenance costs, lost time, increased gas consumption and other expenses that annually cost the average North Texas driver $1,740.

“We’re just transferring the cost over to the consumer, and there’s obviously more cost-effective ways to pay for it, but for whatever reason, we don’t seem to ever get those points across,” Michael Morris, transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, said of the report.

Read more: Dallas commuters paying the price for highway underfunding

Blogger calls TX toll road capital USA

Link to article here.

Watchdog: Drive a highway, pay a fee in Toll Road Capital, USA
By Dave Lieber, Watchdog
Dallas Morning News
July 19, 2014

The emergence of North Texas as Toll Road Capital, USA, represents failure of government of the worst kind. We have to pay for what we could do for free.

They say they don’t raise our taxes. But fees that can cost hundreds of family dollars a month to get to and from are money out of our pocket. Call it by any name you want.

The names are confusing. The SRT? Sam Rayburn Tollway? How many who drive it every day think of Speaker Sam, the long-serving U.S. House Speaker from Bonham?

Or the Bush Turnpike, which had to be changed to President George Bush Turnpike when the son got elected governor. Then the son got elected president, and the North Texas Tollway Authority didn’t change the name by adding middle initials. So the road is named after two men at the same time, although it’s not.

Read more: Blogger calls TX toll road capital USA

Learn to love tolls: Highway underfunding opens door to toll roads

Link to article here.

This article credits the work of TURF Founder, Terri Hall, to remove support of toll roads in the 2014 GOP platform.

Reinventing the American highway: The promise (and pitfalls) of learning to love tolls
America's infrastructure is dramatically underfunded, and our roads are falling apart. Time to change things up
By Henry Grabar
July 20, 2014

It has always been cheap to drive in the United States, relative to other developed countries. As far as our road budget goes, it’s too cheap.

The money American drivers pay into the federal Highway Trust Fund, through a tax exacted at the gas pump, no longer covers the costs of building and maintaining the nation’s road network.

It’s easy to see why this levy, which dates from the inception of the Interstate Highway System, no longer serves its purpose. The federal gas tax has stood at 18.4 cents a gallon since 1993, rendering its budget-replenishing power woefully small. Neither President Obama nor Congressional Republicans seem to be interested in raising it and resetting the calculus.

Read more: Learn to love tolls: Highway underfunding opens door to toll roads

States siphon gas taxes for other uses

Link to article here.

As much as conservatives like Mike Lee and others argue in favor of scrapping the federal highway program and handing the task off to states, this is why we can’t rely on states to do a better job than the feds - they’re broken, too. We need to fix what’s wrong at every level of government when it comes to highways. They need to top pilfering our road taxes for non-road purposes, especially transit and rail boondoggles and these hike & bike trails that canabalize parking in downtown areas and take away scarce road dollars needed to ease congestion.

States Siphon Gas Tax for Other Uses
Makes Them More Reliant on Federal Assistance for New Infrastructure
By Damian Paletta
Wall Street Journal
July 16, 2014 8:53 p.m. ET

States are allotting a growing share of the funds they raise from gas taxes to debt service and spending unrelated to roads and bridges, making them more reliant on federal assistance to pay for new infrastructure.

The shrinking pot of state cash is one reason why governors increasingly are in a panic over a congressional impasse about replenishing the federal Highway Trust Fund. The federal fund, too, is running out of money and will cut disbursements to states in August if Congress doesn't intervene.

Texas spends 25% of its fuel-tax revenue on education programs. Kansas has allocated some of its gas-tax revenue to pay for Medicaid and schools. Nationwide, making interest payments on debt used to fund existing infrastructure projects is one of the biggest state expenditures.

Read more: States siphon gas taxes for other uses

SH 130 faces bankruptcy

Link to article here.

Texas' flagship toll road faces financial problems
By David Tanner
Land Line senior editor
July 17, 2014

Since 2006, the state of Texas has put a ton of trust in private companies to build and operate toll roads in exchange for a cut of the profits. Just eight years in, the state’s flagship public-private toll road, the SH 130 that connects Austin and San Antonio, is facing financial difficulties, low traffic volumes and a “junk bond” rating from financial analysts.

Moody’s Investor Service, which twice downgraded the SH 130’s bond rating in 2013, announced this month that the SH 130 Concession Co. had failed to make a full debt-service payment to lenders on the money it borrowed to build Segments 5 and 6 of the roadway.

According to the 50-year contract between the SH 130 Concession Co. and the Texas Department of Transportation, the builder-operator carries the financial risk while the roadway itself remains owned by the state of Texas.

Read more: SH 130 faces bankruptcy

El Paso toll road still being subsidized by taxpayers

Link to article here.

We’ve learned that higher than expected traffic on a toll road does NOT mean it’s operating in the black. Until you look at each toll road’s traffic and revenue projections, all of these puff pieces pushed out but he press are more akin to propaganda than truth. Every toll road has a ramp up period where it operates int eh red. The Austin toll system is expected to operate in the red for the entire life of the bond debt - it’s being annually bailed out by you and I the taxpayer. So don’t buy the soundbites in the press - we’re all paying to bail out these toll projects…

César Chávez Border Highway toll road sees increased users, toll tags still underutilized
By Aaron Martinez / El Paso Times

The number of transactions on the César Chávez Border Highway toll lane has continued to increase since it opened in January, but most motorists are not using toll tags, officials said Thursday.

So far, about 153,246 transactions have been recorded, officials said. Of that number, 37,394 were with toll tags, the rest were with the pay-by-mail option in which a motorist is mailed the fee.

Read more: El Paso toll road still being subsidized by taxpayers

Outsourcing toll collections runs into snags

Link to article here.

Outsourcing the billing for toll collection is predictably fraught with trouble that can quickly put commuters in big financial and credit trouble - or could lead to blocking their car registration or having their vehicle impounded.

Toll troubles linger after billing system revamp
By Angie Beavin
Published: July 14, 2014

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Department of Transportation recently shut down its TxTag customer service phone lines and website to upgrade their services and allow customers an easier way to manage their accounts.

About a week after coming back online, users are still experiencing problems getting through on the phone and accessing pages on the website.

Read more: Outsourcing toll collections runs into snags

Fake toll road bills emailed to drivers across the nation

Link to article here.

Electronic tolling is rife for abuses like this one - erroneous bills by private companies phishing for quick cash by deceiving commuters into thinking they owe toll bills.

Fake toll road bills emailed to drivers across the nation
By Emily Foxhall
LA Times
July 16, 2014

Orange County switches to a cashless system on its network of toll roads, drivers across the nation have been receiving what is described as a phishing email saying that they owe fees for using the pay-to-drive highways.

Printed beneath a logo that mimics the E-ZPass design, the fraudulent email reads: "You have not paid for driving on a toll road. This invoice is sent repeatedly, please service your debt in the shortest possible time."

Toll road officials say this fraudulent email is being sent to drivers across the nation. (Transportation Corridor Agencies)

Neither the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which manages the Orange County toll road system, nor EZPass, which provides electronic tolling services on the East Coast, sent the email, according to statements from both entities.

The groups advise not opening or responding to the email.

Instead, they recommend that questions about an E-ZPass message be directed to E-ZPass customer service.

In California, FasTrak transponders are commonly used for toll collection.

The toll roads in Orange County stopped using toll booths and switched to a cashless system in May.

Commuters use either a transponder, which debits an established account, or pay online.

House approves short-term, $10.8 billion bill to keep afloat Highway Trust Fund

Link to article here.

House approves short-term, $10.8 billion bill to keep afloat Highway Trust Fund
Fox News.com
July 15, 2014

The House voted Tuesday in favor of a short-term, multi-billion dollar fix to the Highway Trust Fund, which helps pay for federal highway and transit programs.

President Obama spent the last several weeks at campaign-style public events -- including ones with the backdrop of Delaware and Virginia bridges -- trying to garner public support for the $10.8 billion bill and to convince Congress to approve the funding.

Read more: House approves short-term, $10.8 billion bill to keep afloat Highway Trust Fund

Obama Shifts to Urge Private Investment in Roads, Bridges

Link to article here.

Bob Poole with Reason Foundation is paid big bucks by the industry to convince lawmakers there’s all this private money out there sitting on a shelf awaiting Congress’ green light. Truth is thirty-three states have already passed legislation to allow public private partnership (PPP) contracts for roads, yet few are advancing. Why? They’re looking for taxpayer-backed guarantees. They want us to pay for their losses while they walk away with guaranteed profits.

There’s nothing stopping any private entity from investing in infrastructure right now today as a truly private venture. But companies don’t want to risk their own capital, they put the word ‘public’ in the PPP contracts precisely because they want guaranteed profit with no risk. Guys like Poole are snake oil salesmen. The private industry doesn’t just invest billions in public roads as a charitable contribution - all of that money has to be paid back with interest and profit through tolls. In Dallas, drivers are paying up to 95 cents a mile for the PPP toll road on I-635 - that’s a horrible deal for taxpayers and three-quarters of the money on that project comes from the taxpayers!

Obama Shifts to Urge Private Investment in Roads, Bridges
By Lisa Lerer and Angela Greiling Keane
Bloomberg Business Week
July 17, 2014

Stymied by Congress in passing a multiyear solution for transportation funding, President Barack Obama is looking to private-sector companies to help fix roads.

Speaking beside a project to repair a closed interstate highway bridge in Wilmington, Delaware, Obama called for making it easier for states and local governments to access private capital for roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Read more: Obama Shifts to Urge Private Investment in Roads, Bridges

Cintra's hijack of I-635 in Dallas to cost commuters up to $24/day

Link to article here.

Cintra’s spokesperson has lost their minds if they think paying up to 95 cents a mile, eventually $24/day roundtrip, in tolls is a ‘hit’ with North Texas drivers. The article says the 13-mile commute will cost about $7, but not during peak hours. The published toll rate will be up to 95 cents a mile depending on the time of day and level of congestion on the lanes, so the cost could be up to $12 one-way.

No one in their right mind signs-up to fork over that kind of money on a daily basis unless they’re desperate or independently wealthy. In fact, drivers are flocking to the side roads when they see the toll rate jacked-up in real time as they’re driving to work. They may get time reliability, but they can’t get price reliability so they can’t exit fast enough. Long-term this thing is a nightmare, and those who can avoid living or working in that area will do so.

More Toll Lanes To Open Along I-35E This Weekend
By BJ Austin & Krystina Martinez
July 10, 2014

Dia Kuykendall, the director of corporate affairs for LBJ Infrastructure Group, says the new, elevated segment will lift drivers over the chronically congested I-35E/I-635 interchange and set them down at I-35 and Loop 12. The return trip will quicken the commute from Loop 12 north to eastbound 635/LBJ. The grand opening price range is 65 cents to $1.65 for the 3.6-mile stretch.

Read more: Cintra's hijack of I-635 in Dallas to cost commuters up to $24/day

Opposing Op/Ed columns on tolls in San Antonio - you decide

The San Antonio Express-News published a pro-toll and anti-toll Op/Ed. Below are the columns that appeared July 11, 2014. Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom was asked to write the anti-toll position. The pro-toll lobby group, the International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association, wrote the pro-toll column.

Toll is a user fee, not a tax
By Patrick Jones
Op/Ed - July 11, 2014
San Antonio Express-News

SAN ANTONIO — As San Antonio moves closer to tolled lanes on U.S. 281, drivers are about to learn why tolling is an increasingly popular option across Texas and in 35 states.
When you just can't afford to be stuck in traffic, managed lanes are a proven way to beat the bumper-to-bumper congestion that has become a day-to-day reality for too many San Antonians.
The saga of U.S. 281 goes back many years, and over that time, the region's traffic problems have grown into a full-fledged crisis.

Read more: Opposing Op/Ed columns on tolls in San Antonio - you decide

Moodys: SH 130 Toll Road in 'Technical Default'

Link to article here.

Moodys: SH 130 Toll Road in 'Technical Default'
By Jim Forsyth
WOAI News Radio
Friday, July 11, 2014

  Moody's Investment Service today declared the southern half of the State Highway 130 toll road to be in 'technical default,' saying it rescheduled rather than made a June 30 payment on it's $1.1 billion debt, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

  "By executing a waiver agreement, we understand that the project is not in legal default," according to a Moody's investor note.  "However, Moody's view is that the failure to meet the full payment that was originally scheduled for June 30, 2014 constitutes a default under Moody's definition."

Read more: Moodys: SH 130 Toll Road in 'Technical Default'

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