Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Perry Signs House Bill 2702

Perry signs bill requiring vote on toll roads

June 14, 2005

Associated Press
Copyright 2005

TEMPLE — Voters would have to give their approval before any tax-funded highways are converted to toll roads under a sweeping transportation bill that Gov. Rick Perry signed today.

The bill is a follow-up to a current law that allows for the creation of the Trans-Texas Corridor, Perry's ambitious $184 billion vision of thousands of miles of tollways, railways and utility lines crisscrossing the state.

The plan, however, had come under fire from some property owners. Perry said the bill provides greater clarity and significant protections to property owners to ensure they are treated fairly when the state builds new roads.

State Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Round Rock, said the bill he sponsored is meant to restore the public's trust in the corridor plan.

The bill says that no tax-funded highway will be converted to toll roads unless it is approved by voters. It also says that if a new road cuts through a landowner's property, the state must offer to buy the remaining tract of land if it has little or no value to the owner. And if the property loses value as a result of the corridor plan, the state must provide fair compensation for the damages.

Current law already requires that landowners who participate in the Trans-Texas Corridor are either offered a lump sum payout for their land or long-term royalty payments similar to those offered in the oil and gas industry.

"When I first proposed the Trans-Texas Corridor, my goal was to give Texas a world-class transportation system that moves people and goods faster and safer," Perry said. "Today, Texas is taking a significant step to bring state law into accordance with what my vision for the Trans-Texas Corridor has been all along."

The Associated Press: www.ap.org