Tuesday, September 02, 2014
   
Text Size

TRUTH BE TOLLED 281 SPECIAL EDITION

NOW ONLINE - Full movie!

TBT-online-link

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.

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
Examiner.com

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
Examiner.com
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
By BRANDON FORMBY AND MICHAEL A. LINDENBERGER
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
Salon.com

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
07/17/2014

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
KXAN.com
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
KERA News
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'

Larson Grills TxDOT as Streetcar Vote Looks More Likely

Link to article here.

Larson Grills TxDOT as Streetcar Vote Looks More Likely
By Jim Forsyth
WOAI Radio.com
July 8, 2014

  As State Rep Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) is contemplating an effort to yank the state's $92 million share of funding for the controversial downtown streetcar plan, a public vote on the streetcar is becoming more likely, with four City Council members now bucking the City Attorney and calling for a vote on the issue, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

  Larson ripped into members of the Texas Transportation Commission over it's willingness to 'enable' the streetcar construction by agreeing to a bizarre 'money swap' with Bexar County.

Read more: Larson Grills TxDOT as Streetcar Vote Looks More Likely

Stop light onslaught proposed for 281 draws record crowd

Link to article here.

Stop light onslaught proposed for 281 draws record crowd
By Terri Hall
Examiner.com
July 10, 2014

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) struck a nerve yesterday, and it wasn’t pretty. Nearly 300 angry residents of the Bulverde-Spring Branch area showed up for what they thought would be a public meeting on the fate of US 281, only to be greeted with a standing room only venue stuffed with more people than the little library could handle and a bunch of aerial maps and consultants who couldn’t or wouldn’t answer their questions. No formal presentation was made by TxDOT to explain what the plan entailed. Attendees were expected to piece everything together on their own and know what to ask in order to get properly informed. The line to get in was wrapped around the room and out the door where attendees waited up to 20 minutes just to enter. No one anticipated the record attendance.

Read more: Stop light onslaught proposed for 281 draws record crowd

Collin County in toll rebellion over US-75

Read letter here.

Link to article here.

Collin leaders to TxDOT: Don’t toll carpool lanes on 75
By Brandon Formby
Dallas Morning News
July 10, 2014

The Texas Department of Transportation’s plans to turn Central Expressway carpool lanes into tolled express lanes just got some serious organized opposition. Several state lawmakers and Collin County commissioners co-authored a letter yesterday that told new TxDOT executive director Joe Weber that Collin County residents are essentially feeling toll fatigue. Not surprising since the county’s three other major thoroughfares (Dallas North Tollway, President George Bush Turnpike, Sam Rayburn Tollway) are completely tolled.

“There is a strong feeling in our communities that they are already paying too much for travel upon our roadways due to tolling of the three major highway corridors in Collin County,” the letter says.

Read more: Collin County in toll rebellion over US-75

Streetcar funds should go to fix US 281 without tolls

Link to article here.

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

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.

Read more: Streetcar funds should go to fix US 281 without tolls

TxDOT plans to add 12 stop lights on freeway in Hill Country

Concerned citizens are encouraged to submit comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. until July 19 and to contact appropriate elected officials to respectfully express their displeasure.

Sen. Donna Campbell - (830) 626-0065 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Rep. Doug Miller - (830) 625-1313 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Commissioner Donna Eccleston (north of Hwy 46) - (830) 221-1101 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Commissioner Scott Haag (south of Hwy 46) - (830) 221-1102 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mayor of Bulverde Bill Krawietz & City Council members - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (830) 438-3612 to reach council members.

Stop light onslaught proposed for 281 draws record crowd
By Terri Hall
July 10, 2014
Examiner.com

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) struck a nerve yesterday, and it wasn’t pretty. Nearly 300 angry residents of the Bulverde-Spring Branch area showed up for what they thought would be a public meeting on the fate of US 281, only to be greeted with a standing room only venue stuffed with more people than the little library could handle and a bunch of aerial maps and consultants who couldn’t or wouldn’t answer their questions.

No formal presentation was made by TxDOT to explain what the plan entailed. Attendees were expected to piece everything together on their own and know what to ask in order to get properly informed. The line to get in was wrapped around the room and out the door where attendees waited up to 20 minutes just to enter. No one anticipated the record attendance.

Read more: TxDOT plans to add 12 stop lights on freeway in Hill Country

GOP platform retreat from tolls gets noticed by NYT

Link to article here.

We disagree with the characterization by TTI that Abbott's promise to fix Texas roads without raising taxes, fees, or tolls somehow means TxDOT can continue to build toll roads at their current rate. Nice try big money boys, but that doesn't compute. If one more toll road is added once Abbott takes office, that's raising the tax burden, period. We can fix our roads without tolls using existing taxes and the voters will insist on it. It requires getting lawmakers' fingers out of our road taxes and prioritizing existing revenues to fund this core purpose of government - public infrastructure.

A G.O.P. Shift Against Toll Roads in Texas
By AMAN BATHEJA
New York Times
JULY 3, 2014

The Republican state convention drew national headlines last month with candidates and activists staking out hard-line positions on homosexuality and immigration.

Less noticed was a significant shift in the party’s stance on transportation, particularly the state’s reliance on toll roads. In the new platform, Republican delegates removed a provision backing “the legitimate construction of toll roads in Texas” and replaced it with language opposing some aspects of toll projects in Texas, particularly the use of public money to subsidize private entities.

The conservative pushback against toll roads comes as Gov. Rick Perry prepares to leave office after 14 years marked by a sustained push for toll roads and toll lanes. With about 25 toll roads, according to the Texas Department of Transportation, the state has used the projects to stretch limited funds and expand its highway network. Most of the toll roads have opened or been expanded since 2000, the year Mr. Perry took office.

“There is an enormous amount of toll fatigue in Texas,” said Susan Fletcher, a Republican delegate from Collin County who supported the new platform language.

Terri Hall, founder of the anti-toll road group Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, led the effort to change the platform position. To explain why delegates had adopted her proposals with little debate, she pointed to a 41-mile stretch of Highway 130 between Austin and Seguin. The privately run toll road opened in 2012 with lawmakers promoting it as a model for the future. Yet the road has not proved popular with drivers. Last month, Moody’s Investors Service reported that toll revenue had come in far below initial projections.

Read more: GOP platform retreat from tolls gets noticed by NYT

Senator seeks to dedicate vehicle sales tax to highways

Link to article here.

We have long-supported dedicating the vehicles sales tax to roads, but Nichols' bill does it far too slow to make an appreciable effort to stop the reliance on tolling. Since lawmakers have stolen from our highway funds for decades, it's time they restore it and make restitution...NOW instead of ask Texans to pay $24/day in tolls to get to work. Nichols has never seen a toll road he didn't like - including those propped up with gas taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and guaranteed by the Texas taxpayer. He's part of the problem, not the solution. Until thwre's a provision to keep these funds from being used to build, subsidize, or guarantee toll roads, NO DEAL!

Third Proposal Floated to Pay for Road Construction
By Jim Forsyth
WOAI Radio
June 30, 2014

The head of the Senate Transportation Committee says there is a better way to pay for TxDOT's crushing highway maintenance, repair and construction needs than raising the gas tax or building toll roads, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

  State Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Lufkin) told the San Antonio Mobility Coalition he will propose a constitutional amendment when lawmakers meet in January to dedicate a large portion of the vehicle sales tax to roads.

Read more: Senator seeks to dedicate vehicle sales tax to highways

Special interests lobby to rip-off taxpayers with P3s

Link to article here.

Big money's optimism is certainly warranted since they structure every deal to fleece the taxpayer and grant themselves government-sanctioned monopolies. Government is complicit in the scheme as the big money greases their wheels...our politicians are supposed to be safeguarding the public interest yet their fiduciary duty is nowhere to be found among the graft.

Big-Money Optimism but Many Unanswered Questions About Private Infrastructure Investment
By Tom Curry
Roll Call
June 24, 2014

Senate Finance Chairman Sen. Ron Wyden spoke for many transportation officials when he said recently, “There are hundreds of billions of dollars in private capital sitting on the American sidelines. Surely some of that can be invested in American infrastructure.”

Probably no topic is hotter right now in the public infrastructure world than private-public partnerships, which aim to entice the owners of those hundreds of billions of dollars of private capital to invest in rebuilding and expanding the nation’s highways, ports and bridges.

Read more: Special interests lobby to rip-off taxpayers with P3s

Inspector general delves into 460 in VA

Link to article here.

The corruption with P3 contracts continues...meanwhile Texas doesn't have an Inspector General to watchdog such deals despite taxpayers insisting on one. Such fraud is most assuredly happening in lax Texas.

Inspector general delves into 460
By Matthew Ward
Thursday, June 19, 2014

Virginia’s transportation secretary has asked the state Inspector General’s Office to join its internal review of the Route 460 project.

“Secretary Layne directed VDOT’s Assurance and Compliance Office to conduct a review of the Route 460 P3 project,” department spokeswoman Tamara Rollison said Thursday.

The office’s multi-pronged mission, according to VDOT’s website, includes investigating alleged “fraudulent, illegal and/or inappropriate activities.”

Read more: Inspector general delves into 460 in VA

Toll collections spark outrage in CA

Link to article here.

Electronic toll collection is a massive money-making scheme where the punishment doesn't fit the 'crime.' It impedes our freedom to travel and ruins people financially - just to get to work and usually for innocent mistakes.

Drivers rack up tickets on toll roads
The switch to a cash-free payment collection system is turning into a potential moneymaker.
By Morgan Cook
Orange County Register
June 27, 2014

The switch to a cash-free payment collection system is turning into a potential moneymaker for county toll roads, in the form of a jump in the number of penalties from toll violations.

The new system also has sparked confusion for drivers and a customer service crisis at the Transportation Corridor Agencies, with tens of thousands of people calling help lines only to face long waits, and often no answer at all, according to documents presented at June 12 board meetings of TCA directors.

Read more: Toll collections spark outrage in CA

Congress meets with investment bankers profiteers about P3s

Link to article here.

Members of congress are sitting down with investment bankers to ask them how well public private partnerships are working out for the taxpayers. Really? These are the very scoundrels ripping us off charging toll fees in excess of $23/day and congress gives what they say credibility with this charade?

No Simple Calculation in Comparing Public, Private Investment
By Tom Curry
Roll Call
June 17, 2014

When members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee conferred with investment bankers in New York on Monday, one question they wrestled with was how to compare the cost-effectiveness of traditional infrastructure investment (states or other government entities issuing bonds to pay for projects) with public-private partnerships — PPPs or P3s — that give private investors stakes in toll roads and other projects.


Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., asked a panel of investment bankers and one academic urban planner “how public infrastructure projects and facilities are evaluated for efficiency and, if there is such a model, do you folks have it?” He wondered, “Are we just now starting to figure that out” and “is there any metric” that determines cost, risk, and efficiency for public projects compared to private ones.

Read more: Congress meets with investment bankers profiteers about P3s

Page 1 of 2