public private partnerships

  • Anti-toll legislation makes its way onto must-pass TxDOT sunset bill

    IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact: Terri Hall, Director, Texas TURF, &
    Texans for Toll-free Highways
    (210) 275-0640
    Anti-toll legislation makes its way onto must-pass TxDOT Sunset Bill

    Taxpayers finally caught a break in Texas, especially toll-weary commuters. After fighting for common sense toll road reforms for over a decade, the grassroots through Texas TURF and Texans for Toll-free Highways made major strides in killing public private partnership (P3) toll roads and gaining ground on several key anti-toll reforms, like removing tolls from roads that are paid for like Camino Columbia in Laredo.

    State agencies come under sunset periodic review. Senate Bill 312 involves the continuation and functions of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and gives lawmakers the ability to tack on just about any transportation bill to it — good and bad. It's also must-pass legislation or the highway department goes away. While five anti-toll bills successfully passed the Texas Senate this session, none have been heard in the House. So lawmakers pounced on the opportunity to get stalled bills moving through amendments to SB 312. 

    The pro-toll crowd sought to resurrect corporate toll roads by authorizing P3s once again and even granting broader authority to do so. Lawmakers just voted down a P3 bill HB 2861 by Rep. Larry Phillips just days before, forcing taxpayers to mount an offensive to kill such sweetheart deals again. An amendment by Rep. Dade Phelan was most troubling actually requiring taxpayers to guarantee the loans and bonds of the private toll companies and gave authority to enter into multiple contracts every year with no sunset date.
  • Could flying cars & pod travel through tubes eliminate urban congestion?

    Link to article here.

    Will highways become obsolete? New modes of transport could replace need for traditional cars

    By Terri Hall
    September 21, 2017

    You’d think it’s counterproductive for Elon Musk to support something that could eliminate the need for his own Tesla self-driving cars, but innovators tend to be on the cutting edge of new technologies and Hyperloop is certainly one to watch. Hyperloop is a new form of transportation that propels a pod (whether people or cargo) through a tube across an elevated track using magnetic levitation technology. The company claims it could take a passenger from Houston to Dallas in under 30 minutes — at airline speeds of 620 MPH without turbulence or drag — at a fraction of the cost. At least that’s how it’s being promoted.

    That beats high speed rail systems, including the one being planned by Japan-based Texas Central Railway, whose speeds top out at 205 MPH. The advantage of a Hyperloop type of system over the traditional high speed rail is it would not require the massive taking of rural land, eliminating the eminent domain for private gain problem, since it’s elevated and could potentially be built within existing highway real estate. Nor would a Hyperloop create the noise problems of high speed trains because it’s inside a tube without air drag.
  • Killing the private toll road bill made national news!

    We did it!  Not only did we send a message to Texas lawmakers and special interests that the Rick Perry era of toll roads is over, we also sent a message to the Trump Administration that private toll roads are dead on arrival in Texas!

    Watch the Bloomberg story on it here
  • Note to Trump: Key states tossed pro-toll incumbents

    Link to article here.

    Trump take heed: Toll roads a factor in Florida, North Carolina, and Texas election

    By Terri Hall
    November 9, 2016
    Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research

    With the historic election of Donald Trump to the American Presidency, it signals a total repudiation of the political establishment by the working class. You could call it the election of the American worker. But analysts would be remiss if they failed to overlook how toll roads played a part in several races in key states.

    One of the most notable races is for governor in North Carolina — must-win state for Trump that went red. Yet, Republican Governor Pat McCrory is in a nail biter photo finish to retain his seat in a state that went Republican last night. The very real threat by Democrat Roy Cooper who claimed victory Wednesday morning, though most still believe the race too close to call, is in part due to McCrory losing support among his base thanks to his approval of the controversial public private partnership (P3) toll project on Interstate-77 in Charlotte.
  • Secret agreement handed private toll firm control of public roads

    Link to article here.

    How sad that this happened just days before we celebrate Texas Indepenence Day, March 2.

    City hands control over public roads to private firm
    By Terri Hall
    Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research
    March 1, 2017

    In a stunning betrayal of open government, the Cibolo City Council voted 6-0 to approve a 50 year development agreement with Texas Turnpike Corporation (TTC) granting it the exclusive right to build, operate and maintain what’s been dubbed the Cibolo Parkway — a tollway linking I-35 to I-10 through mostly rural farmland northeast of San Antonio. The agreement was negotiated behind closed doors and was kept secret from the public until it was approved last night.

    Even worse, the city council gave TTC the rights to develop a project the taxpayers have already paid for, the expansion of FM 1103, the city’s primary connection to I-35. By doing so, they’ve granted a private corporation a virtual monopoly over the existing non-toll competitor to its private toll road. TTC can intentionally slow down the free option to force more cars onto its for-profit toll road by manipulating speed limits, access points, and stop lights. It’s a developer’s dream and a commuter’s worst nightmare.
  • Should voters promote pro-toll Burkett to senator?

    Burkett wants highest possible toll taxes for constituents
    By Terri Hall
    November 9, 2017

    With Cindy Burkett throwing her hat in the ring in an attempt to unseat grassroots conservative stalwart Senator Bob Hall, the voters of Texas Senate District 2 need to know about her record. Burkett was quick to support selling off Interstate 635 E to the highest bidder using a controversial toll contract known in Texas as a comprehensive development agreement (or CDA) that gives control of our public roads to private toll companies.

    Interstate 635 toll lanes from I-35E to the Dallas North Tollway are already operated by Spain-based Cintra. Commuters in the Metroplex face paying upwards of $24/day in tolls to this foreign corporation just to get to work, and no elected official has any control over how high those toll rates can go. Burkett wants that tax burden to extend to commuters in her own district from US 75 to I-30.
  • Think tank: Private toll roads unworkable for nation's infrastructure fix

    Link to article here.

    Think tank casts doubts on Trump infrastructure plan
    By Ashley Halsey
    Washington Post
    December 2, 2016

    President-elect Donald Trump's ambitious plan to raise $1 trillion for infrastructure is a boondoggle that would line the pockets of wealthy investors while not meeting the need for infrastructure repair or improvement in much of the country, according to an analysis released Thursday by a progressive think tank.

    Trump's plan "shovels money at wealthy investors instead of solving real infrastructure challenges," according to a white paper from the Center for American Progress.

    The paper figures to be the first salvo in a lively debate if Trump follows through on his promise to make refurbishing the nation's roads, bridges and transit systems a centerpiece of his administration, coupling it with his vow to put unemployed middle-class Americans back to work.

    "It's really a huge failure because it just doesn't deliver on what the actual needs are out there," said Kevin DeGood, the report's author. "These really complicated deals for which contracts [with private investors] can be beneficial only apply to one-half of 1 percent of the need that is out there."
  • Trump floats gas tax hike after tolls get cold shoulder

    Link to article here.

    Trump floats gas tax increase after cold reception to privatized toll roads

    By Terri Hall
    May 5, 2017

    It’s tough being a change-agent. Newly minted President Donald Trump came into office with high hopes of a major infrastructure overhaul. With the nation’s crumbling bridges, pothole stricken roads, and millions of commuters choking in urban congestion, Trump had a big plan to harness the private sector through public private partnerships (P3s) to address congestion by adding toll lanes. The problem is those privatized toll lanes grant private, usually foreign, entities monopolies over vital public highways where the companies are given the exclusive right to extract the highest possible tolls for 50-99 years.

    With the pushback to P3s coming fast and furious from working class families to truckers, Trump has begun to change his tack. After meeting with members of the trucking industry this week, Trump has floated the idea of a federal gas tax increase to raise the revenue necessary for the big infrastructure fix. Truckers prefer a gas tax increase to tolls.

    Here’s the back story. The National Highway Trust Fund, which is funded with a federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, has teetered on the edge of bankruptcy for over a decade while the gas tax has remained unchanged since 1993. Inflation has diminished its buying power over the last 24 years, and members of congress have been reluctant to raise it. Under President George W. Bush, many Republicans pushed road privatization and implementing toll ‘managed’ lanes as the means to finance road projects as perpetual road funding shortfalls plagued the highway system.
  • VICTORY: Grassroots KILL private toll bill, secure Abbott's vision for toll-free future

    IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    CONTACT: Terri Hall, (210) 275-0640
    Defeat of private toll road bill affirms Abbott's pledge to voters 
    Promise to fix roads without new tolls or debt gets bipartisan support

    (Austin, TX - Friday, May 5, 2017) Texas taxpayers can breathe a sigh of relief tonight as a bipartisan effort to defeat expansion of private toll roads in Texas went down in flames by a vote of 79-51 in the Texas House. Taxpayer champions Rep. Jeff Leach (R - Plano), Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R - Bedford), and Rep. Joe Pickett (D - El Paso) led the floor fight, noting 90% of Democrats and 95% of Republicans oppose new toll roads in Texas, and both party platforms oppose privatized toll roads in particular. Governor Greg Abbott promised to fix Texas roads without new tolls or debt, and the Texas House delivered on that promise today by killing Rep. Larry Phillips HB 2861.

    Pickett and Stickland made impassioned speeches opposing the bill. Leach emphasized both party platforms oppose this type of toll project and that the voters just gave the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) $5 billion a year in new funding by passing Proposition 1 and Proposition 7.

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