Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Senator Carona, remember us, the citizens?"

Has Senator Carona Been Crushed By TxDOT Special Interest Toll Pressure?


David & Linda Stall, Co-founders
Copyright 2007

TxDOT and just about every agency and organization that wants to build a toll road has pulled out all the stops to pressure our legislators to stop the private toll road moratorium. is shocked to read in this morning's Austin American Statesman a report that Senate Transportation Chairman Carona doesn't plan to allow SB1267 a vote before his committee.

"I don't intend to move it," Senator John Carona.

It would be nice if this were a misquote, but we're afraid it isn't. At best we might find the intent and effect of SB1267 incorporated into SB1929, a much larger transportation bill. At worst we might find that our protection from private toll monopolies were traded away in a backroom political poker game.

Who's in charge?

It's not TxDOT, it's not Ric Williamson, and it's not Senator Carona either. It's the citizens, taxpayers, and voters of Texas. It hasn't been more than a couple weeks since Senator Carona admonished Chairman Williamson that he didn't have just one person to keep happy [Governor Perry]. Carona told Williamson that he worked for 181 legislators and the citizens of Texas. Senator Carona, remember us, the citizens?

What the heck is going on?

You might have a plan Senator but right now we feel pretty ripped off and sold out. We're all ears.

And we're not alone - how about the other 129 legislators who stood up to represented their districts by signed on in support of SB1267 and HB2772?

Yes, we need roads. But . . .

We also need to know at what cost our state is entering into 50 year contracts with for-profit toll road operators. We need to know if we are making bad public-private deals because toll road proponents have been blinded by big money. We need to know that average Texans 30, 40 and 50 years from now will be able to afford to travel on highways they should own. These are just a few of the many serious questions that deserve serious consideration, and answers.

We believe the citizens of Texas would be best served by legislative review and a cautious approach to long-term contracts that could rob our communities of future transportation funds, limit future transportation alternatives, and unnecessarily increase the cost of public mobility.

Put the public back in public decisions.

Somehow we have left the public out of toll road decision making. Historically we have voted for highways with our taxes. When you hit the limit of how much we are willing to be taxed the expansion stops. We are effectively making a purchase decision.

Unfortunately virtually all of these new toll road decisions are being made without public approval.

Let's revisit the moratorium.

Once we start down this public-private road and begin signing away the control over our highways the cost of turning back may only be exceed by the cost of driving on those highways.

Chairman Carona, we sent our Senators to Austin to represent us and vote as we would if we were there. As Chairman of the Transportation and Homeland Security Committee you represent all Texans. Let our individual representatives do what we sent them to Austin to do. Let our Senators vote. Please move SB1267 out of committee.

© 2007

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