Friday, September 01, 2006

Perry's office called Texas Highway Commission to ask when TxDOT would begin tolling Highway 121.

Strayhorn fires back at Perry on tolling issue

September 01, 2006

By Josh Hixson
Lewisville Leader
Copyright 2006

Texas gubernatorial candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn, appeared Thursday near the State Highway 121 Bypass in Lewisville to speak on Gov. Rick Perry’s announcement to postpone the eventual tolling of the highway.

“Toll ways are being crammed down Texans’ throats,” Strayhorn said. “Highway 121 was originally planned as a freeway, not a tollway. I am adamantly opposed to tollways.”

Strayhorn called the delay in tolling by TxDOT “a great victory for the people of Texas” and accused Perry of using the delay as a ploy to “buy votes.”

“Texans will not be fooled...Rick Perry is trying to buy votes by waiting until after Nov. 7 to start tolls,” Strayhorn said. “Texas has the money to meet transportation needs without tolling every new road in Texas. I would love to debate with (Gov. Perry) any time, any place, anywhere.”

Perry stated his stance on tolling Tuesday at the State Highway 121 bypass dedication in Coppell.

“There is no such thing as a free road. There are toll roads and there are tax roads. It made all the sense in the world to follow the path we are on,” Perry said. “[We] charge tolls for obvious reasons. It’s faster, it’s cheaper and Texans appreciate that.”

During the dedication, Perry denied allegations that moving back the tolling date was actually a tactic aimed at increasing his chances of re-election. According to Perry the decision was made by TxDOT to ensure that the tolling plazas are fully operational and accurate.

“It was TxDOT’s decision because we wanted to fully test all the electronic tolling equipment,” said Brian Barth, director of transportation planning and development with the Dallas District Office of TxDOT. “Our concern was that the whole “back office” issue hadn’t been fully tested and we didn’t want to penalize people for that. This is the first time TxDOT’s back office systems are being used.”

Barth did say that the governor’s office called the Texas Highway Commission to ask when TxDOT would begin tolling Highway 121.

Regardless of when the tolling begins, Strayhorn firmly believes that there is no reason to charge a toll for the use of Highway 121.

“As governor I’m going to see to it that this road is never tolled. We have the money. I will make sure that (Highway) 121 remains free,” Strayhorn said. “Texas can have a freeway system that is the envy of the nation.”

Contact staff writer Josh Hixson at or 972-538-2115.

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