Saturday, January 31, 2015
   
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  • MPO montage

    MPO Video Clip

    A 3 minute montage of what is wrong with transportation decision making. This Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is the one that controls the Alamo Area funding. There are 24 other MPOs across the state of Texas
    Watch the Clip
  • TURF-BB-TexansLike

    Texans know what they like:

    There may be no such thing as a free ride, but that doesn’t mean Texas drivers can’t dream. According to a new study from Texas A&M Transportation Institute researchers, the state’s drivers would like more investment in everything from sequenced traffic lights.
    Read about the study...
  • TURF-BB-Salzman

    The Pitfalls of P3s

    Randy Salzman's work is the most comprehensive look at the dangers of P3s to date. It's a must read for citizens and policymakers alike. Salzman’s entire expose on P3s in the June/July 2014 Issue of Thinking Highways.
    Read the story...
  • TURF-BB-TBT281SpecialEdition

    Full Film Now Online!

    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.
    Watch Trailers  Watch Full Film
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Transportation Committees major factor in needed reforms

Link to article here.

Transportation Committees major factor in needed reforms
By Terri Hall
Examiner.com
January 25, 2015

When Texas voters elected a new Governor and Lt. Governor, they ushered in a new era of leadership that promised key reforms in the arena of transportation - promising to address the structural funding shortfalls without tolls as well as problems with processes and efficiencies. Much of the new policy will be shaped by who Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker Joe Straus tap as Transportation Committee members. Patrick just announced his picks Friday and Straus is expected to announce his soon.

So let’s take a look at Patrick’s picks for the Senate Transportation Committee. Senator Robert Nichols (R - Jacksonville) will remain the Chair, but most notable are the new faces on the committee, including four new senators Bob Hall (R - Kaufman County), Don Huffines (R -Dallas), Lois Kolkhorst (R -Brenham), and Van Taylor (R - Plano). Taylor and Kolkhorst formerly served in the Texas House. All of the new senators are anti-toll. Huffines was appointed Vice Chair, which is a big nod. Compare that to just one anti-toll committee member last session and none in prior sessions, and this is a Texas-sized step forward for taxpayers.

Read more: Transportation Committees major factor in needed reforms

 

Alamo MPO shafts 281 commuters AGAIN!

Alamo transportation board wastes Prop 1 on non-priority projects
Fails to turn toll lanes back to free lanes on 281 as promised
By Terri Hall
Jan., 26, 2015

Today, the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (AAMPO) decided how Prop 1 funds would be spent on area roads. Notably absent, again, was Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff whose precinct encompasses the controversial toll project on US 281. His father, the County Judge Nelson Wolff, sent a letter to the Transportation Commission asking for Prop 1 funds to be used to turn toll lanes into free lanes on US 281 if Prop 1 passed, and yet there's a deafening silence from both Wolffs now that Wolff was re-elected county judge.

Rather than turn toll lanes back to free lanes on US 281 as promised and as its own policy requires, the board unanimiously chose to spend $124 million in new money that voters approved, which can only be spent on non-toll projects, to non-priority minor fixes to frontage roads on I-10 near Boerne and on Hwy 90. Neither project is on the state's 100 Most Congested Roads List. US 281 has been consistently on the list for years and even ranked the #1 most stressful road in the state per the Commuter Stress Index. None of the new funds will be used on major congestion relief projects that add capacity to major corridors - all of which are slated to be tolled.

Read more: Alamo MPO shafts 281 commuters AGAIN!

Perry Legacy: Unpopular, failed toll road policy

Link to article here.

Governor proposes a toll road plan 'as big as Texas'
Aman Batheja | Texas Tribune | Posted: January 7, 2015

Rick Perry was just a year into his tenure as governor when he proposed the Trans-Texas Corridor, a massive 4,000-mile network of privately operated toll roads, railroad tracks and utility lines that would take 50 years to build.

“This plan is as big as Texas and as ambitious as our people,” Perry said at the first of many events touting the project.

The corridor he envisioned would never become a reality, but he still managed to leave his mark on the state’s approach to funding roads. Under his leadership, Texas has been the country’s most aggressive supporter of tolling and private-sector investment in transportation.

Read more: Perry Legacy: Unpopular, failed toll road policy

P3s cost Canadians $8 billion more than public-run roads

Link to article here.

Privatizing highways using P3s (called AFPs in Canada) cost Canadians $8 billion more than if the government had done the toll projects. Bottom line, P3s cost far more than the quicker delivery is worth.

Government-managed projects could save Ontario money: Auditor-General
By Adrian Morrow
The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, Dec. 09 2014

Public-private partnerships have cost Ontario taxpayers nearly $8-billion more on infrastructure over the past nine years than if the government had successfully built the projects itself.

Read more: P3s cost Canadians $8 billion more than public-run roads

Tolls up 54% in Miami, drivers flee tollways

Link to article here.

This is what is happening all over Texas, too: “It’s crazy. Gas is going down but what we’re saving on gas we’re spending on tolls.” Tolls have gone up 54% overall in Miami and that’s the pattern for toll roads - perpetual, ever increasing, unaccountable taxation. This is the legacy of Rick Perry that's well articulated by this frustrated motorist quoted below: “They’re taxing the crap out of people.”

Tolls on 836, 112 have driver tempers flaring
By Glenn Garvin
Miami Herald
12/06/2014

It may take a full year to evaluate how a new toll system on State Roads 836 and 112 has affected traffic, expressway authorities say, but the effect on motorists’ tempers is pretty clear: They’re flaring.

“An abuse of power!” fumes Coral Gables architect Maria Luisa Castellanos. “Taxation without representation.” says Jim Angleton, who owns a cluster of financial services scattered across Miami-Dade: “They’re taxing the crap out of people.”

Read more: Tolls up 54% in Miami, drivers flee tollways

Diversions of gas tax threaten transparency

Link to article here.

Transportation Diversions Are the Enemy of Transparency
by Ross Kecseg
Empower Texans
December 31, 2014

Lazy politicians maintain that Texans should pay higher taxes, fees and tolls if we hope to meet roadway demand spurred by population growth. However, they fail to mention the gas tax revenue we already pay is diverted to unrelated programs with billions more spent by transportation agencies on non-road projects.

A simple example is our state’s gas tax. The legislature levies it specifically for the State Highway fund…and then diverts 52% of it elsewhere. Transportation is such a “high priority” that Republicans gleefully divert more than half of road money away from what it was created to finance—roads.

Read more: Diversions of gas tax threaten transparency

Federal gas tax hike on the horizon?

Link to article here.

John Thune Puts Gas Tax Hike on the Table for GOP Senate
by Dan Riehl
4 Jan 2015
Breitbart.com

The incoming chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) put all options on the table when it comes to replenishing the shrinking Highway Trust Fund, which is widely seen as opening the door to a tax increase.

Per an AP report, “Gas and diesel taxes haven’t risen since 1993, resulting in perennial shortfalls in the fund that pays for most road projects”.

Several commissions have called for raising the taxes, but Congress has been reluctant. Instead lawmakers have dipped repeatedly into the general treasury to keep the trust fund solvent.

The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and the diesel tax is 24.4 cents per gallon.

Thune made the comments while on “Fox News Sunday.”

Tax relief, road funding priorities in coming session

Link to article here.

It’s reports like this one that we’ll use to hold state leaders accountable for how they spend our hard-earned tax money this next budget cycle. They promise more money for roads, but TxDOT’s perpetual excuse to levy toll taxes on every highway will continue to be ‘it’s still not enough’ unless we demand NONE of this new money or existing tax revenues can be used to build toll roads. If they’re going to build a toll road, it should pay for itself with just the toll users alone - no tax money!

Tax relief figures high on legislative budget priorities
By Peggy Fikac
December 6, 2014
Houston Chronicle

AUSTIN — Texans can expect tax relief, a focus on border security and more efforts to fight traffic congestion when a cash-flush Legislature convenes in January.

The budget priorities line up with campaign promises from Republican state leaders and lawmakers, who handily won their spots with a message of keeping state government lean while carefully weighing additional spending for its benefits.

Read more: Tax relief, road funding priorities in coming session

Special Section on Prop 1 - Fallout as oil bust means less money for roads

Prop 1 special section


Link to article here.

Doubts about Prop 1 loom in light of oil bust
By Terri Hall
January 4, 2015
Examiner.com

When Texas lawmakers punted on road funding with passage of Proposition One last year, they never anticipated the Texas oil boom would abruptly crater. It took three special sessions to round up the two-thirds majority needed to place a Constitutional amendment on the ballot for Texas voters to decide if they wanted to raid half of the state’s oil and gas severance tax (a tax on new oil wells) and divert those revenues to the State Highway Fund. With the promise that the new funds could not be used to build or support toll roads, Texas voters gave the green light. But the euphoria lawmakers felt after getting away with gaining new highway funds without ending diversions of the gasoline tax has quickly turned to doubt as the plummeting price of gasoline has severely tempered oil production in the Lone Star State.

Read more: Special Section on Prop 1 - Fallout as oil bust means less money for roads

Big govt snoop: Toll tags in three states now interoperable

Link to article here.

It’s only a matter of time before big government colludes to bring us a national toll tag system that tracks citizens everywhere we go and can conveniently charge us for every mile we drive. The fact that this reporter nor the people interviewed in the story see this as a threat to privacy and our pocketbooks is downright scary. There’s a whole lot more to this than convenience….

Improved system makes cross-county and cross-country travel easier
BY GLENN MILLER
Florida Weekly
December 24, 2014

The word interoperability is tough to spell and pronounce and isn’t one used in everyday communication.

Unless, that is, one works in a bridge or highway tollbooth.

Yet, interoperability might affect anybody who drives a car or truck over bridges or toll roads anywhere in Florida and a couple of nearby states. Eventually, perhaps in every state.

Read more: Big govt snoop: Toll tags in three states now interoperable

Navasota residents leery of proposed toll road

Link to article here.

Navasota residents waiting to see proposed toll road route
By ANDREA SALAZAR
The Eagle.com
Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Plans for a Texas 249 toll road connecting Houston to Waco by way of Grimes County have left some landowners in limbo as transportation officials decide where to build the roadway.

"We're living on the edge of the unknown," said David Tullos, a coordinator for the Grimes Citizen Advisory Group, a grassroots coalition opposing the construction of the toll road, which would start out as a two-way road with a passing lane and eventually grow to a four-lane divided highway.

"It has created a degree of uncertainty," Tullos added. "If somebody wanted to sell property, they couldn't because the person buying would be buying into the unknown with the fact that a toll road could go through the property."

Read more: Navasota residents leery of proposed toll road

Toll roads going belly-up

Link to article here.

When good toll roads go bad
By Keith Benman
NWI.com
December 27, 2014

Northern Indiana is not the first region in the nation to be subject to fallout from a toll road bankruptcy, with a number of other privatized roads and bridges going belly up across the nation in the past few years.

The good news is those roads have continued to carry traffic with little disruption. The bad news is there is usually little communities can do to influence the bankruptcy process, except in cases where roads revert to government ownership.

Read more: Toll roads going belly-up

Double digit tolls to fund I-70 in Missouri

Link to article here.

OUTRAGE: As punishment for voters rejecting a sales tax hike to pay for state highways, Missouri politicians seek to impose $20-$30 in tolls per trip to use I-70.

Report: Double-digit tolls could fund I-70 repairs
By SUMMER BALLENTINE
Associated Press
Wednesday, December 31, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Motorists on Interstate 70 would need to pay $20 to $30 in tolls to travel one way across Missouri to pay for the minimum in needed repairs on the roadway, according to a state Department of Transportation report released Wednesday.

Possible solutions suggested in the report, commissioned in early December by Gov. Jay Nixon, include using tolls to repay public bonds or to recoup expenses in a public-private partnership.

Read more: Double digit tolls to fund I-70 in Missouri

Falling oil prices could deepen road funding woes

Link to article here.

Falling oil prices could deepen Texas' road funding woes
By BRANDON FORMBY
Transportation Writer
Dallas Morning News
December 28, 2014

Drivers cheer falling gas prices, but the plummeting value of oil could undermine voters’ attempts to pay for more road construction and maintenance.

Texans overwhelmingly agreed in November to partially fill the state transportation agency’s $5 billion annual shortfall with excess oil and gas production taxes. The approval of Proposition 1 was expected to give the Texas Department of Transportation about $1.7 billion a year.

Read more: Falling oil prices could deepen road funding woes

2014: Year of public backlash to tolls

Link to article here.

Maybe the political class and special interests are excited about rail since road funding has been lackluster for the last few years and they’ll latch onto any black hole needing taxpayer subsides and guarantees anytime they can get it. However, North Texas residents are angry at the prospect of more of their road funding being diverted to rail projects while being asked to pay double digit daily toll bills all over the Metroplex.

2014 in transportation: Toll projects garnered furor while rail projects drew excitement
By BRANDON FORMBY
Transportation Writer
Dallas Morning News
December 28, 2014

North Texas this year moved closer to becoming home to the nation’s largest network of managed toll lanes, as the second phase of LBJ Freeway’s massive renovation opened.

The region’s proliferation of toll lanes and roads expanded into Tarrant County with the opening of three projects — the DFW Connector, the North Tarrant Express and the Chisholm Trail Parkway. And in Dallas, the long-planned Trinity Parkway toll road once again emerged as one of the city’s most contentious topics.

Read more: 2014: Year of public backlash to tolls

North Carolina reporter travels to Dallas to check-out Cintra's tollway

Link to article here.

These two dueling news reports from North Carolina TV stories show the power of the press: one series reads like a puff piece written by Cintra, the other highly critical of Cintra - leasing viewers to draw totally different conclusions. This is why TURF exists - to help you sort the facts from fiction and to protect the interests of we the people - the taxpayers!

NOTE: Cintra canceled its interview with the reporter once they knew TURF was going to be interviewed.

9 Investigates: The real cost of toll lanes
To get answers, Channel 9 traveled to Dallas, Texas where Cintra is building a similar toll road.
By Scott Wickersham
November 5, 2014
WSOCTV.com
Channel 9 - North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The North Carolina DOT is close to finalizing a financial contract with a Spanish company to build toll roads on Interstate 77 from Mooresville to uptown Charlotte.

But not much is known about exactly how much it will cost or how construction will affect traffic, and the public has only seen animations of how it will look when it's done.



To get answers, Channel 9 anchor Scott Wickersham traveled to Dallas, Texas where Cintra is building a similar toll road. Channel 9’s investigation found that Texans are paying a hefty price to drive congestion-free -- and one group there says people in Charlotte should be very concerned.

The Dallas metro area is home to 6.5 million people -- and heavy traffic.

Read more: North Carolina reporter travels to Dallas to check-out Cintra's tollway

Salzman on Toll Roads to Ruin: The catch to public private partnerships

Link to article here.

Roads to Ruin
Opinion: "We’ve let private companies get away with the claim that efficiency will lead to cheaper and better highways when what it often leads to is massive taxpayer debt."
By Randy Salzman
Style Weekly
November 11, 2014
 
The company that runs the $3.8 billion Indiana Toll Road went under in September, adding to the list of nearly a dozen transportation-based public-private partnerships in bankruptcy court across the country.

Few of the rest, including Virginia's 22 public-private partnerships, known as P3s, are meeting their toll and income projections. Maryland's InterCounty Connector has quadrupled in cost to $4 billion while carrying less than half of its projected vehicles.

Read more: Salzman on Toll Roads to Ruin: The catch to public private partnerships

How toll companies make money even when the toll road loses money

Link to article here.

How Macquarie Makes Money By Losing Money on Toll Roads
by Angie Schmitt and Payton Chung
Streetsblog USA
November 19, 2014

This is the second post in a three-part series about privately financed highways. Part one introduced the Indiana Toll Road privatization as an example of shoddily structured infrastructure deals. Part three looks at how faulty traffic projections lead bad projects to get built, and how the public ends up paying for those mistakes.

Macquarie Group, the gigantic Australian financial services firm with some $400 billion in assets under management, has made a lot of money in the infrastructure privatization game.

The publicly traded company owns the Brussels Airport, the Dulles Greenway, telecommunications towers in Mexico, a wind farm in Kenya, and much more. One of those assets was the Indiana Toll Road, which Macquarie purchased in 2006 with Spanish firm Ferrovial — whose most profitable assets include Heathrow Airport and the 407 toll road ringing Toronto. The Indiana Toll Road was housed in a spinoff company called ITR Concession Co. LLC., which filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in September after a disastrous eight-year run.

Read more: How toll companies make money even when the toll road loses money

Alamo planning board hastily obligates Prop 1, adopts more toll roads

Link to article here.

Alamo planning board hastily obligates Prop 1 money, adopts more toll roads
By Terri Hall
December 9, 2014
Examiner.com

Yesterday, the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (or AAMPO) voted to adopt its long-range plan, Mobility 2040, that will add 4 new toll projects and 34 other new projects that will obligate ten years of Proposition One money. The AAMPO has long promised that when new funding became available, they would turn previously planned toll lanes back into free lanes on projects like US 281 in San Antonio. Prop 1 passed with 81% of the vote on November 4, and voters overwhelmingly approved the measure precisely because the funds could not be used for toll projects. Now taxpayers are facing still more toll roads.

The betrayal taxpayers feel kicked into high gear when the AAMPO voted to add yet more toll roads to the plan instead of turn toll lanes on existing major corridors back into free lanes as promised. Voters do not get to select which elected officials are appointed to the AAMPO, so there’s no direct accountability.

Read more: Alamo planning board hastily obligates Prop 1, adopts more toll roads

Anti-toll hero Kolkhorst wins senate seat

Lois Kolkhorst wins senate seat
Anti-toll leader to take senate by storm


December 6, 2014 marks a pivotal day in Texas history. Lois Kolkhorst won the senate seat, SD 18, in a special election to replace pro-toll Glenn Hegar who was elected Comptroller November 4. Kolkhorst has been the one true anti-toll stalwart in the Texas House during her tenure. She authored the bill to the repeal the Trans Texas Corridor and as well as the bill to protect Texans from privatized toll roads that milk taxpayers and dole out plenty of sweetheart deals for special interests.

Last session, she carried our bill to make the toll come off the road when it's paid for to prevent perpetual taxation. While on the Sunset Committee, she fought for legislation to make the Transportation Commission an elected board rather than the current structure of unaccountable appointees. She's just as strong on property rights carrying key amendments and legislation that would force the government to return land taken with eminent domain to the original owners if it wasn't used for the purpose for which it was taken within 10 years.

Her stellar pro-taxpayer record can be viewed here. In it we contrast her record to the anti-taxpayer and pro-toll record of the current Senate Transportation Committee Chair Robert Nichols. We'd love to see the incoming Lt. Governor Dan Patrick appoint this great conservative, Lois Kolkhorst, to Chair the Transportation Committee and replace the era of Perry-Nichols that lurched the state toward punitive taxation through unaccountable, tax-subsidized toll roads, and took us from pay-as-you-go to now leading the country in road debt.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and tell him we can't allow a committee chair that's so anti-taxpayer to continue to lead this important committee. Texans voted for change, not the status quo when they elected Dan Patrick. We need a true conservative to Chair Transportation and the best person for the job is Lois Kolkhorst - bar none!

Can TxDOT use gas taxes to support toll roads? Kolkhorst asks AG for opinion on Prop 15

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Terri Hall, Founder/Director,Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom,
(210) 275-0640
Kolkhorst asks for Attorney General opinion on use of gas taxes to build, support toll roads
Seeks clarity over Prop 15 controversy from 2001

(Austin, TX, November 14, 2014) With voters overwhelmingly embracing a move away from toll roads with the election of anti-toll Greg Abbott as the new Texas Governor, there remains an open question about whether or not the voters approved the use of the state gasoline tax, and any other money available to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), for toll roads when they approved Proposition 15 back in 2001. Some state leaders believe the voters approved the use of gas taxes to build toll roads with passage of Prop 15, but the ballot language never mentions a word about gas taxes nor all funds available to TxDOT being used for toll roads - which is a double tax.

“It’s important for lawmakers to know heading into the next session whether or not TxDOT is authorized to subsidize toll projects that can’t pay for themselves with taxpayer money,” points out Texas State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst who Chairs the House Health Committee, and has been a long-time champion for taxpayers on transportation.

Kolkhorst submitted a request for an Attorney General opinion on Prop 15 last week. She authored the legislation to repeal the controversial Trans Texas Corridor, and she’s currently running for the Texas Senate seat, SD 18, vacated by Glenn Hegar who was just elected State Comptroller. Chairwoman Kolkhorst believes the ballot language for Prop 15 was less than forthcoming about the full implications of the amendment to the Texas Constitution in 2001, and she wants to protect taxpayers from double taxation.

Read more: Can TxDOT use gas taxes to support toll roads? Kolkhorst asks AG for opinion on Prop 15

Passage of Prop 1 opens door to fix 281 without tolls

Link to this release as an article here.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Terri Hall, (210) 275-0640

With passage of Prop 1, time to fix US 281 without tolls

(San Antonio, TX - November 5, 2014) It’s been a long battle, more like a ten year war, over converting US 281 in San Antonio into a tollway, but with passage of Proposition 1 shifting $1.7 billion in oil and gas severance taxes immediately into the state highway fund, the ‘we’re out of money’ excuse to toll this freeway just got chucked.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and Sen. Donna Campbell sent a letter to the Texas Transportation Commission in May asking for more non-toll lanes on US 281 should Prop 1 pass. Now Wolff still wants one transit-toll-HOV ‘managed’ lane each direction regardless of having the money to fix it completely without tolls, but Campbell, who represents the corridor, has stated unequivocally that she wants expansion and wants it all to be without tolls.

Read more: Passage of Prop 1 opens door to fix 281 without tolls

Anti-toll candidates snatch key positions in Texas

Link to this release as an article here.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Terri Hall, (210) 275-0640

Anti-toll candidates sweep key races in Texas

(Austin, TX - November 5, 2014) Texas taxpayers have been tormented for more than a decade when it comes to transportation and toll roads, and their torment is finally coming to an end tonight. With the strong win by Greg Abbott, Texans will soon have a new governor who actually campaigned against toll roads. It’s a welcome departure from the agony of living under the current governor, Rick Perry, who crippled Texans with unsustainable, exorbitantly expensive, insolvent toll roads. Texans also overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure, Proposition 1, to dedicate half of the state’s oil and gas revenues to the state highway fund with 81% of the vote. The new revenue cannot be used for toll roads. 

Other big wins include Dan Patrick for Lt. Governor, Ken Paxton for Attorney General, and a strong anti-toll grassroots win for Konni Burton who took back Wendy Davis’ senate seat, Senate District 10, for the GOP in Ft. Worth. Tony Tinderholt is another big anti-toll pick-up replacing pro-toll incumbent Diane Patrick in House District 94 in Arlington. Rodney Anderson’s win in House District 105 in Irving and Grand Prairie replaces a key pro-toll member of the Transportation Committee, Linda Harper-Brown, whose penchant for public private partnership corporate toll roads and bike and pedestrian facilities also played a role in her ouster. Anti-toll Matt Rinaldi replaces pro-toll Bennett Ratliff in House District 115, representing the Carollton area.

Read more: Anti-toll candidates snatch key positions in Texas

Raw sewage: Johnson Ranch developer trucking sewage out, dumping silt on neighbor's land

Link to article here.

Graham property
Johnson Ranch developer trucking sewage out, dumping silt on neighbor's land

By Terri Hall
October 21, 2014
Examiner.com

It’s hard to believe there’s a colonia in the Texas Hill Country, but apparently there is at the Johnson Ranch housing development in Bulverde. Since its amended permit for sewage treatment has not been approved, rather than wait until it was, DHJB Development went ahead and started building homes and is currently pumping raw sewage from the homes and hauling it off-site. The Johnson Ranch public elementary school is just 840 feet away. Parents of the children attending the school should know that. It’s highly likely the upscale residents of Johnson Ranch don’t know how their sewage is being handled either.

In order to have the authority to do this pumping and hauling of raw sewage, a lift station must be in operation. According to one environmental services company, “wastewater lift stations are facilities designed to move wastewater from lower to higher elevation, particularly where the elevation of the source is not sufficient for gravity flow.”

Read more: Raw sewage: Johnson Ranch developer trucking sewage out, dumping silt on neighbor's land

Conflict of interest: 281 consultant writes city's transportation plan

Link to article here.

Bulverde Transportation Plan written by 281 toll consultant
By Terri Hall
Examiner.com
October 20, 2014

A Transportation Forum sponsored by the City of Bulverde, the Economic Development Foundation, and the Chamber of Commerce was held at GVTC on October 16. It was a 4-hour marathon brought to you by the same consultants, HNTB, hired by the Bexar County toll authority known as the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (or RMA).

The HNTB moderator, Tom Wendorf, used to head the Bexar County Public Works Department and actually VOTED to toll US 281 during his entire tenure on the local Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The fact that the City of Bulverde hired this company to write its Major Thoroughfare Plan (MTP) for our area is breathtaking. Whom you hire determines the outcome. Bulverde residents have loudly declared they do not want to pay $8/day in tolls to get into San Antonio (as the current proposal would require), nor do we want 12 stop lights added to US 281, as the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is planning to do as presented to an overflow crowd at the public meeting in July at the library.

Read more: Conflict of interest: 281 consultant writes city's transportation plan

Landowners revolt: Push cities to oppose private Blacklands tollway

Link to article here.

Citizens blitz local governments to stop private Blacklands tollway
By Terri Hall
October 16, 2014
Examiner.com

Opposition to the controversial private Blacklands-Northeast Gateway Toll Road from Garland to Greenville east of Dallas kicked into high gear this week when concerned citizens did a full court press to pressure remaining cities and counties to pass resolutions opposing the toll road. Seven cities had already passed resolutions prior to Tuesday. Those cities include Fate, Josephine, Lavon, Nevada, Rockwall, Sasche, and Wylie. The Rockwall County Democratic Party also passed a resolution opposing the tollway.

On ‘Super Tuesday,’ residents blitzed four city council meetings and one county commissioners meetings in one day. The City of Rowlett agreed to pass a resolution and Caddo Mills plans to pass one prior to the next crucial meeting of the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) on November 13, where the board may decide whether or not to adopt the tollway into its short and long-range plans.

Read more: Landowners revolt: Push cities to oppose private Blacklands tollway

Prop 1 on the skids with voters

UPDATE: After this article stirred up trouble, TxDOT put a promise in writing that no portion of Prop 1 will be used to support toll roads.

Link to article here.

Prop 1 on collision course with taxpayers
By Terri Hall
Examiner.com
October 15, 2014

Though a supermajority of Texas legislators with the help of virtually every Chamber of Commerce are out stumping for Prop 1 in all earnestness, their efforts are starting to fall on deaf ears as more Texans tune in to the persistent problems with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Prop 1, on the ballot November 4, would take half of the oil and gas severance tax currently collected on oil and gas production (that normally goes to the state’s Rainy Day Fund) and send it to the state highway fund for the next 10 years.

A more in-depth look at the structural road funding shortfall and the pros and cons of Prop 1’s role in it can be found here. Today, the concern isn’t about whether or not Prop 1 is the right approach to address the shortfall, but rather about something that popped up in the Dallas Morning News which said, “A caveat in Proposition 1 forbids the extra funds, which could equal about $1.7 billion a year, from being used on toll projects. But Bill Hale, TxDOT’s engineer operations director for metro districts, said a connection to the Trinity Parkway (toll road) wouldn’t be barred from using the funds because the project itself isn’t tolled.”

TxDOT spokesman Tony Hartzel then quipped: “That’s his take on it.”

Read more: Prop 1 on the skids with voters

What's involved with Prop 1?

Link to article here.

Issues to consider when voting on Prop 1
By Terri Hall
October 12, 2014
Examiner.com

Many Texans are struggling to decide whether or not to support the upcoming constitutional amendment  known as Proposition 1 on the ballot November 4. Prop 1 would take half of the oil and gas severance tax currently collected on oil and gas production (that goes to capitalize the state’s Rainy Day Fund), and allocate those funds to the state highway fund for the next 10 years.

There are many issues to consider when deciding how to vote. Many Texans wonder why there needs to be an amendment to the constitution to address highway funding. They think the federal and state taxes, or user fees, we pay on every gallon of gasoline pay for highways. Few Texans are aware of the structural road funding shortfall facing Texas and the nation.

Read more: What's involved with Prop 1?

Abbott, Davis both claim anti-toll positions

Link to article here.

Both gubernatorial candidates stake out anti-toll positions
By Terri Hall
October 2, 2014
Examiner.com

Texas gubernatorial candidates Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis claimed to be against more toll roads at last night’s debate. Perhaps the recent research conducted by Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) that shows Texans do not want anymore tolls made the decision to be anti-toll a little easier. What’s shocking however, is that Wendy Davis thinks she can get away with it.

Since Davis entered the Texas senate in 2009, she’s done nothing but vote in favor of toll roads, even for the controversial private, corporate toll roads known as public private partnerships (P3s). Prior to her stint in the senate, she served as a Ft. Worth council member where she was appointed to serve on the Regional Transportation Council. Davis cried crocodile tears when the legislature yanked a P3 contract from Spanish toll giant, Cintra, for Hwy 121 in 2007. The contract would have locked down the expansion of free roads in Collin and Denton counties for the next 52 years. The toll rates Cintra could have charged in those final years would have been more than the cost of an airplane ticket from San Antonio to Dallas.

Read more: Abbott, Davis both claim anti-toll positions

Research: Texans do NOT want more toll roads

Link to article here.

Texans know what they like: free, open, bike-free roads
By Dug Begley
Houston Chronicle blog
September 25, 2014

There may be no such thing as a free ride, but that doesn’t mean Texas drivers can’t dream. According to a new study from Texas A&M Transportation Institute researchers, the state’s drivers would like more investment in everything from sequenced traffic lights to public transit — even if they do not want to ride the bus themselves.

What they currently don’t want, according to a survey that researchers conduct every two years, is more toll roads, or giving bicyclists a major say in how transportation is planned.

Read more: Research: Texans do NOT want more toll roads

Private Northeast Gateway tollway near Dallas draws angry crowd

Link to article here.

Private tollway near east Dallas draws ire from record crowd
By Terri Hall
Examiner.com
September 23, 2014

The people have spoken and their will is clear - they do not want the proposed private Blacklands Tollway-Northeast Gateway corridor through Rockwall to Greenville in east Dallas. Last night, a record capacity crowd of nearly 1,500 showed up to get their opposition to the controversial toll project on the record. Landowners and concerned citizens voiced their opinions to the Texas Turnpike Corporation (TTC) and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) at a public meeting held in Rockwall that lasted until after midnight.

The initial public meeting took place on September 4 in Lavon, but the fire marshal shut it down due an overcapacity crowd. They planned on 250 and 500 showed up. The meeting was rescheduled for last night. So tripling the number of attendees in just a few weeks demonstrates that the public opposition to this private toll project is only gaining steam and showing no signs of petering out.

The overwhelming majority spoke in opposition, primarily because this private corporation can wield the power of eminent domain for its private toll road that company documents show is projected to net $78 million in annual profits by 2035. Yet the company claimed last night that it didn’t know how much profit the toll road was anticipated to make.

Read more: Private Northeast Gateway tollway near Dallas draws angry crowd

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