A&M Study: "don't need tolls; don't need to raise gas tax"
Read our December 11, 2006 blog post on the release of this report: A&M expert: Don't need to raise gas tax at all
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- Please note that roundabouts are considered such a safety improvement that they are eligible for 100% federal funding. See this link: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/safetealu/siebyside.htm. Given the fact that a person is 28% more likely to die of a traffic accident in San Antonio than in the average large U.S. city, shouldn't we be all over this?
Highway 281 and 1604
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- 2004 Original Plan for Hwy 281 - Here is the original improvement plan TxDOT was showing in public meetings for neighborhoods along the Hwy 281 corridor for the last 6 years. This is the plan that was thrown in the trash pile and repackaged into the proposed toll plans for the region... Read more...
- Loop 1604 - TxDOT studies show improvements can be paid for 100% with bonds. It does not need to be tolled to install the improvements.
Ways to Accelerate Projects
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Creative ways to relieve congestion without TOLLS!
- Traditionally, governments have sought to build their way out of the problem - expanding roads to cope with the rise in cars. But a report, drawn up by the National Audit Office in Britain, has highlighted a number of simple, but more creative alternatives.
- Reversible lanes (reversing the flow of traffic in one or more lanes during peak periods)
- Variable speed limits
- Dynamic lanes
- Dedicated lanes
- Ramp metering
- Hard shoulder running
Gas tax versus tolls
- Consider the Metropolitan Planning Organization in Austin found that ALL of their highway "needs" could be funded with a 1-2 cent gas tax increase versus a lifetime new toll tax on roads we've already built and paid for. Even IF you agreed with all of what TxDOT calls a "need," and IF you discount the fact that toll roads cost 40-100% MORE to build and maintain than free roads like the 281 example (plus 25-35% administration costs), and IF you allowed for each major city in Texas to get a 1-2 cent gas tax increase (totaling 8-10 cents MAXIMUM), that's VASTLY cheaper than tolls in the hands of private, foreign companies guaranteed certain profit formulas anywhere from 12-19% a year!
TxDOT's scare tactics of a 50 cent to $1.00 per gallon gas tax hike is totally outlandish and unsubstantiated. They receive 20 cents per gallon in state gas tax revenue now. They're trying to claim they need more than DOUBLE the current tax, to build what? San Antonio already ranks number 5 in the nation in number of lanes miles of highway per person. We've already built the entire federal interstate system and state highway system, they cannot begin to justify doubling much less quadrupling (or more) their revenues. Population growth is no excuse to charge us 5 times more money for roads. All new residents also pay gas taxes and the State's revenues grow with any population increase.
Consider if you drive a large vehicle that gets about 20 MPG and you drive an average of 20,000 miles a year, you're consuming about 1,000 gallons a year and you're paying about $200 a year in state gas revenues. Even if you agree with ALL of TxDOT's proposed projects (remembering that toll projects cost more), a 10 cent gas tax hike would only amount to $100 more a year versus $2,000-4,000 a year in new toll taxes (with no cap and no limit). TxDOT sponsored a survey for Loop 1604 in September of 2005 and quoted 29 cents a mile totaling $5.90 ONE WAY for a roughly 20 mile commute. That's more than $3,000 a year just to drive to work (it'd be like giving yourself a pay cut)! TxDOT's own toll feasibility studies show toll rates from 44 cents up to $1 a mile (http://www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt/ctrma05/, we found similar rates in San Antonio toll studies).
No matter how you slice it, tolls are the MOST EXPENSIVE option!
NOT USER PAYS & FREE ALTERNATIVES MANIPULATED
- These are NOT like traditional toll roads in Houston or Dallas where:
- The voters got to vote on the toll projects
- They were completely brand new roads
- The money and management stayed local
TxDOT and pro-tollers claim the "user pays" for the road and that no one is FORCED to take a toll road. That's not true either since even Bexar County Commissioner Lyle Larson has gone on record stating: "TxDOT is playing games with how these projects are going to be paid for. They're saying it's going to be paid by the tolls. That's not an accurate assessment. There's going to be a lot (of taxpayer money). They can't make it work otherwise." - WOAI, August 3, 2005.
None of these toll projects are self-sustaining toll roads where the tolls collected are enough to completely cover the cost of building, operating, and maintaining the road. All of them need some infusion of gas taxes, bonds, or private money, and in some cases, they recommend a combination of all three! So this beyond a DOUBLE TAX, it could be a TRIPLE or QUADRUPLE TAX by the time they're done with funding it. You won't know until the deal is signed. All of these private contracts are being negotiated in secret (http://satollparty.com/post/?p=177 and http://satollparty.com/post/?p=297).
Then, when you consider the non-compete agreements in these contracts (required by the bond companies) that give the private entity control of the free lanes and contractually limits the expansion and prevents improvements to the surrounding "free" routes, this notion of "choice" is a false one. It is sit in congested free lanes being manipulated to maximize the traffic forced onto the tollways, or pay up the toll for efficient travel. Read more here (http://www.unbossed.com/index.php?itemid=276).