Friday, February 16, 2007

"Toll roads in Texas are fueling quite a debate these days, with many drivers saying they hate them."

State Bill Would Halt New Toll Road Construction

Feb 16, 2007

Jay Gormley
CBS 11 News (Fort Worth)
Copyright 2007

NORTH TEXAS Toll roads in Texas are fueling quite a debate these days, with many drivers saying they hate them. Despite the Texas Department of Transportation's claims that money generated by toll roads are the only way to keep up with the demand for new highways, a bill in the state legislature could put a temporary stop to their construction.

CBS 11 News asked one North Texas driver, "What would you say if you never had to pay a toll again?" The response was – "Great. I would say excellent." Another driver said, "It should be free."

Texas State Representative Garnett Coleman feels the same way. He's asking lawmakers to pass his bill that halts the construction of all new TxDOT toll roads until September of 2009.

"Texans already pay for state highways through the gasoline tax and now they're being asked to pay twice with tolls. So clearly, the public is being nickeled and dimed," Coleman said.

A lot of questions are being asked about that gas tax. TxDOT argues that it hasn't been raised in 14 years. Meanwhile, the population of Texas has exploded and so has the demand for new roads.

TxDOT says the gas tax of 1993 cannot keep up with the demand of 2007.

Toll roads already up, or under construction, would not be affected.

TxDOT admits Coleman's bill will win over the public. But TxDOT official Angela Loston says the bill isn't very realistic. "It's not very feasible and the reason why is because we in the DFW area are facing a huge budget crisis. As unpopular as tolls are, they are necessary."

Coleman supports a hike in the gas tax to pay for new highways, but TxDOT says it would take a massive increase to cover all the road projects scheduled over the next five years.

© 2007 CBS Broadcasting Inc.:

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