El Paso Mayor repeats Ric Williamson's mantra to promote RMA that would extend into Mexico and New Mexico
March 5, 2007
Daniel Novick-KFOX News Reporter
Fox News (El Paso, TX Las Cruses, NM)
-- A group will soon have the authority to create toll roads in El Paso.
That group is called a Regional Mobility Authority, and they already exist in most major Texas cities. Their job: looking at new roads like the completion of loop 375 in the Northeast, and most importantly how to pay for them. El Paso is growing, and added traffic in the very near future, is a given.
"There is going to be three types of roads built in Texas, 'Toll roads, slow roads, and no roads.' So you pick which kind you want," said Mayor John Cook.
Cook said a Regional Mobility Authority, or RMA, is the way to go. That's because right now all new road construction goes through TXDOT, but that changes outside state lines.
"Under state law, the only vehicle that we have that can do projects in Mexico and New Mexico is a Regional Mobility Authority," said Cook.
That means projects like the Northeast Parkway, part of which is in New Mexico and will relieve traffic in El Paso, won't be built, because New Mexico won't pay for it.
"We are finding out that these Regional Mobility Authorities are not performing as what we intended," said Texas Representative Joe Pickett.
Pickett is against creating an RMA.
"At the end of the day, there won't be any less congestion under the plan that they have presented, so it's kind of a farce in my mind," said Pickett.
When it comes to drivers, many are against the RMA's authority to create toll roads.
"This is a land for everybody, and toll roads, sure they can create more money, but it's just taking money out of your own pocket, for stuff that should be for everybody," said Inez Franklin, from East El Paso.
"The fact that it's a cost to all drivers, and I think there are enough costs already, that to a driver we have to pay," said Hector Soto, from East El Paso.
Cook said toll roads will only be built on new roads, so that El Pasoans will have a choice in how they get where they need to go. Pickett said his top concern about an RMA is the fact that they are appointed and don't have to report directly to anyone. Cook tells KFOX they are only appointed for two year terms, and if they are ineffective, their term will not be renewed.
The City Council is voting Tuesday on who will be the RMA board members nominated by the mayor. If you would like to attend, that meeting starts at 9 a.m. in City Council chambers at City Hall.
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