Thursday, August 17, 2006

Propaganda campaign from "Texans for Safe Efficient Transportation" in the works

Toll Supporters Speak Out

Plan aggressive campaign to sell toll road plans

August 17, 2006

By Jim Forsyth
101.9 Radio (San Antonio)
Clear Channel Communications, Inc.
Copyright 2006

Faced with stronger than anticipated opposition to toll road plans, supporters have changed course and will begin mounting a statewide campaign to convince people of the necessity of toll lanes, 1200 WOAI news reported today.

Greater Chamber of Commerce President Joe Krier heads the group, called Texans for Safe Efficient Transportation.

Krier told downtown Rotary that while the idea of paying tolls is unpleasant and unpopular, the three alternatives, doing nothing, higher gasoline taxes, and higher property taxes, are far less pleasant.

"To do all the work we need to do we could have a 56% increase in our property tax rates," Krier said. "Come see me if you want to help lead that charge."

And Krier said the other alternative, a gasoline tax increase, is equally unpleasant.

"We would have to raise the gas tax conservatively by fifty cents a gallon, more aggressively by a dollar 40 cents a gallon," in order to come up with funding to build needed highway infrastructure.

Krier said the problem is one of economics. A combination of inflation, especially on raw materials like petroleum-based asphalt, and better fuel economy vehicles, are cutting into the state's major source for highway funding, the 20 cent a gallon state gasoline tax.

He says fuel efficient vehicles are a major boost to drivers, but when we buy less gasoline, we end up paying less in gasoline tax, and that is cutting the Texas Department of Transportation's maintenance and construction budget to the point where repairs of existing roadways take up a major chunk of that budget.

"You're not going to see a lot of additional free lane construction at the levels we have seen in the past 25 years." Krier said.

The third option, doing nothing, he says would damage the local economy and cost jobs. He says the average San Antonio motorist today spends 42 hours a year stuck in traffic, and that figure will double in the coming decade unless action is taken to build new roads.

Krier credited the Texas Toll Party and other groups for organizing opposition and public debate to the toll road issue, and says his new group will take steps to make sure Texans understand the consequences of rejecting toll proposals.

© 2006 Clear Channel Communications, Inc.: