TxDOT to hijack I-35: Proposes tolls on new & existing lanes
By Terri Hall
November 3, 2013
When a local San Antonio TV reporter goes on a rant over a toll lane proposal, you know the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has hit a nerve. TxDOT is proposing to add two elevated toll lanes on Interstate 35 each direction from Loop 410 in Bexar County to Schertz in Comal County, approximately 15 miles. The insanity doesn’t stop there.
TX130/5&6 has very little traffic, revenues low, Moody's thinks may default mid-2014
Toll Road News
October 24, 2013
2013-10-22: October 24 last year the Texas State Highway 130 segments 5 and 6 (TX130/5&6) opened for traffic southeast of Austin to I-10 near Seguin. But there's not much celebration on the pike's first birthday. Traffic seems to be under 6,000 vehicles/day, perhaps one-eighth capacity for its expressway standard 2x2 lanes. Moody's Investors Service has just downrated SH 130 Concession Company LLC's senior bank debt of $686m and $493m of US Government TIFIA loans to Caa3, the third lowest in 'junk' status.
Let's make sure this reporter gets the message loud & clear. We don't want toll roads and we will hold any politicians who votes for them accountable at the ballot box! Toss 'em all out!
New toll possibility on I-35 brings up question
By Randy Beamer
October 30, 2013
SAN ANTONIO -- Would you vote for or against a candidate based on their support (or lack of support) for better roads? Would diverting tax money that's supposed to be spent on transportation make you think twice about sending them back to Austin?
The questions come up because the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) this week is unveiling the possibility of elevated toll lanes above a 15-mile stretch of I-35 in northeast San Antonio. San Antonians have been pretty vocal in their rejection of prior toll projects as this metro area is the biggest in the state without any toll roads or even toll lanes.
Transportation Commission Chairman Ted Houghton flat out lied at the Transportation Symposium held by the Texas Tribune. Indeed, public money is involved in SH 130's public private partnership. The U.S. taxpayer is on the hook for a $430 million federal TIFIA loan. It's also offensive that Houghton uses Grand Pkwy as a model for tolling when taxpayers will also be on the hook for $2.9 billion of the project. If taxpayers have to, in essence, co-sign the loan and guarantee the debt of a toll project, it, too, has questionable financial viability as a toll road. Private investors aren't willing to risk their own money on that project so TxDOT came in and put that risk on taxpayers, further en-denting the state and tying up funds needed for freeways.
Debt Issues Tied to SH 130 Could Impact Toll Projects
By Aman Batheja
October 23, 2013
A year ago this week, a toll road opened in Central Texas that represented two milestones for the state. While its posted 85 mph speed limit — the highest in the country — drew international headlines, many state and local leaders were more interested in the road’s unique financing: A private consortium designed and built the road and agreed to operate and maintain it for 50 years in exchange for a cut of the toll revenue.
Technology has its own powers....once we're dependent on it, it becomes our master. So is the case with toll plazas and electronic tolling, too.
Toll plaza glitch stymies motorists at DFW Airport
by MONIKA DIAZ
October 21, 2013
DFW AIRPORT — Motorists who had trouble leaving Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Monday were forced to wait in line while workers lifted exit gates by hand at its toll plaza on the north side.
According to DFW Airport spokeswoman Cynthia Vega, the system was failing to identify every Toll Tag. In some instances, the system read the tag as a vehicle entered the airport, but problems popped up upon departure.
TxDOT's excessive salaries will be studied...and we've been advocating zero-based budgeting for the agency since its sunset review started in 2007-2008.
Lawmakers add a little stick to their TxDOT largesse
By Robert T. Garrett
Dallas Morning News
July 29, 2013
Lawmakers may be about to serve up a cool billion more in funding for roads, but they also could add a little stick: A study of whether “employee salaries and benefits” are bloated at the Texas Department of Transportation.
When Gov. Rick Perry named former Texas Secretary of State Phil Wilson to run TxDOT nearly two years ago, Wilson’s salary struck some people as excessive — $292,500 a year, or $100,000 more than former executive director Amadeo Saenz, a former road engineer who retired. At the time, the Perry-appointed commission that oversees TxDOT wanted key legislators who oversee the state budget to approve additional salary of $88,500 for Wilson, once a salary study could be completed.
Proposition 6 controversy grows as early polling nears
by Karen Grace / KENS 5
October 14, 2013
The growing controversy over the use of Proposition 6 to bring in water has people speaking out.
Governor Rick Perry says it will bring in more water. Opponents are calling in voters to reject Proposition 6 at the polls, calling the water policy corrupt.
"Scheming a $2 billion heist of rainy day fund, it's a heist. So outrageous it requires an amendment to the Constitution to pull off," Said Sam Brannon of Hays Constitutional Republicans.
CONTACT: Terri Hall, Founder, Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF), 210-275-0640
Prop 6 public drain for private gain
Rural water raid to benefit developers, not average Texan
(San Antonio, TX - Monday, October 14, 2013) Have you ever had a kid ask for seconds during a meal before he’s even finished what’s on his plate? Well, that’s what the Texas legislature is asking of voters with Proposition 6 on November 5, pointed out TURF Founder Terri Hall at a press conference Monday at Lion’s Field in San Antonio along with a coalition of groups opposing Prop 6.
Lawmakers want Texans to pass this constitutional amendment to approve more funding for water projects. A similar measure narrowly passed in November 2011 for a $6 billion revolving fund to loan money to local government entities for water infrastructure, outside constitutional debt limitations. Now in 2013, the Texas Legislature is asking voters for permission to raid $2 billion from the state’s emergency fund, known as the Rainy Day Fund, to assist local agencies of government in funding water projects from the state’s water plan.
Public drain for private gain: Prop 6 rural water raid to benefit developers
By Terri Hall
October 12, 2013
Have you ever had a kid ask for seconds during a meal before he’s even finished what’s on his plate? Well, that’s what the Texas legislature is asking of voters with Proposition 6 on November 5. Lawmakers want Texans to pass this constitutional amendment to approve more funding for water projects.
A similar measure narrowly passed in November 2011 for a $6 billion revolving fund to loan money to local government entities for water infrastructure, outside constitutional debt limitations. Now in 2013, the Texas Legislature is asking voters for permission to raid $2 billion from the state’s emergency fund, known as the Rainy Day Fund, to assist local agencies of government in funding water projects from the state’s water plan.
A default or taxpayer bailout is looming...
Moody's downgrades SH130 toll road rating, fears default
By Robert Grattan
Austin Business Journal
October 17, 2013
Moody’s Investors Service Inc. has again downgraded the credit rating of SH 130 Concession Company LLC, based on what it said was inadequate traffic growth on the company’s 41-mile, tolled section of SH 130, the high-speed highway that runs around Austin parallel to I-35.
The road has been called an asset to economic development in towns along the route, such as Pflugerville, but has been hampered by what Moody's called "slow to moderate, yet inadequate" traffic growth. The credit rating agency expects that without a debt restructuring or additional investment, the Concession Company will be unable to meet its debt service payments due in June 2014, according to the rating report.
Reason Foundation profits off of pushing tolls on the American public and we're glad to see OOIDA challenging their biased reports that suggest tolling all interstates.
OOIDA takes issue with 'toll the interstates' study
By David Tanner,
Land Line Magazine
OOIDA takes serious issue with a Reason Foundation study that suggests all interstate highways should become toll roads in the future. The average toll for a truck, as suggested by the D.C.-based think tank, would be 14 cents a mile.
“Once again, we’ve got the ivory tower academics who do not understand how truckers and motorists use and already pay for our highway system coming up with a scheme for tolling in which everything works like clockwork,” OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Ryan Bowley said.
A Virginia Supreme Court Judge voted for the bill that's subjecting the Downtown and Midtown tunnels to tolls when he was a legislator in a total conflict of interest yet he has not recused himself from the case. Other judges have ties to law firms or other interests connected with the private firm wanting to impose tolls on Virginians. The swamp is so murky it's almost as if the whole case has to be scrubbed by an outside court - will this end up before the U.S. Supreme Court? How many of those justices could also be compromised by the special interests involved in tolling?
Justice's interest in tolls case questioned
By Andy Fox
RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) - "A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary,” – Canons of Judicial Conduct for the State of Virginia
There are seven State Supreme Court Justices who will decide if tolls will come to two tunnels in Hampton Roads. And some believe one of those justices may have a conflict of interest in the case.
Investors Go Negative On Toll Roads
Motorists can expect to pay more as toll roads hike rates to meet mounting debt payments.
September 12, 2013
Driving on toll roads will continue to be a growing expense for motorists, according to a special report released Tuesday by Moody's Investors Service. The credit ratings agency keeps tabs on 42 American toll roads that collectively hold $80.2 billion in debt. Since toll road traffic remains depressed, motorists using these pay routes will have to pay higher tolls to meet the debt burden. While state and federal transportation officials remain bullish on tolling, Moody's is cautioning potential investors.
"Moody's outlook for the US toll road sector remains negative in 2013," the analysts noted. "Our February 2013 US Toll Roads Outlook report noted that negative credit pressures continue to outweigh the positives."
Toll tags & tracking: Big government coming to a road near you
By Terri Hall
October 3, 2013
Whether it’s license plate readers, toll tags, or mobile phones, one thing is certain - you are being tracked. A recent uptick in reports of toll tags being used to track vehicle movements has created a firestorm of controversy over how such information can be used, more importantly, abused, and how such invasions of privacy are justified to travel a public road.
In the age of electronic tolling, most Toll Tags and EZ Passes are embedded with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology that allows toll equipment to detect and record when a car passes through its gantry for billing purposes. Toll agencies promise the information is only used for billing and toll collection, yet there’s rarely any policy in place to protect personal information, how long the information is stored, and to whom the data can be sold to or shared with.
Fitch can spin it all it wants, but public private partnerships ALWAYS involve public money for private profits, cost too much to be worth the supposed public benefit, and at the end of the day mean underutilized roads due to high cost.
Credit Rating Firm Catalogs Toll Road Woes
Throughout the world, toll road projects go bankrupt or face increasing risks according to Fitch Ratings.
Fitch Ratings, sees trouble ahead for toll road projects and public private partnerships in general. In a report issued Monday, the credit rating agency outlined the failures of tolling and related projects in the United States and around the world, though the agency remains optimistic on the viability of this road funding mechanism.
"While one can view public private partnerships as a glass half full or as a glass half empty, it is Fitch's view that the former is the better perspective," the analysts explained. "Public private partnerships can provide public value, but need to be carefully crafted to address all stakeholder concerns. When public private partnerships are viewed to have failed, the issue is often inappropriate transaction design and application."
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- TxDOT to hijack I-35: Plans to toll new & existing lanes
- VA toll opponents dealt blow by State Supreme Court
- Moody's predicts default on Cintra's SH 130 by end of 2014
- Many toll violations billed in error
- TV Reporter goes on rant, asks if Texans will vote out politicians who raid road funds
- Pauken speaks out against public money in private tollway
- Houghton lies about public money for SH 130 private tollway
- Toll glitch traps motorists at DFW airport
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Latest Press Releases
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