Friday, March 30, 2007

"A toll road built by private investors gives our taxpayers' money to those investors for 50 years."

Letters ters from Plano, Frisco, Sachse

March 30, 2007

The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2007

Policy, not politics

Re: "Getting Realistic About Highway 121 – Shapiro, Self offer different visions for funding," Sunday Editorials.

First and foremost, the exchange between County Judge Keith Self and me was never about politics. It was about policy. No matter how or why this editorial board brought politics into the mix, it is belittling to us both. We both agree that there is no animosity between us, today nor ever.

Mr. Self and I have a fundamental similarity and a fundamental difference. Our common goal is to build more roads for Collin County's burgeoning population and build them quickly. Where we differ is who should build them. I believe the Cintra contract is a manifestation of this difference. A toll road built by private investors gives our taxpayers' money to those investors for 50 years. The North Texas Tollway Authority has a stellar track record of building roads to meet our needs in North Texas, and I believe that agency should be granted the contract to continue to do so.

Mr. Self believes roads must be built with priority funding from the state's general revenue. Throughout the history of state-funded roadways, the general revenue fund has never been used, nor could it ever sustain, the cost of building roads. Over the years, we have created tools for transportation funding, such as the gasoline tax, created in 1923, bonding through the Mobility Fund and toll roads.

Together, our ultimate goal is to build more roads. Mr. Self and I also agree they should be built at a fair price to the taxpayer in order to meet the needs of this dynamic area and for the future of Collin County.

Florence Shapiro, State Senator, District 8

Road delay essential

Re: "We need bold highway funding – New direction needed for the state, but Collin County cannot afford a delay on 121, says County Judge Keith Self," Friday guest column.

The article by Mr. Self concerning the State Highway 121 project is completely off-target. Mr. Self asserts that a two-year delay in the construction of Highway 121 is unacceptable. This self-serving view attempts to justify the rush to construction and subsequent financial fiasco approved by Collin County.

To the contrary, a two-year or longer delay in construction of Highway 121 and all other toll road projects in the state is absolutely necessary. A completely revised method of funding highway construction must be enacted before we are asked to fork over any more money into this bottomless pit. Toll roads should be built on their own merits, and the tollbooths removed after funding costs and return on investment are recovered.

The North Texas Tollway Authority's habit of building unneeded and unused bridges and airport tunnels with revenue from other projects must be halted. Sending money on needed roads out of the country is ridiculous. The Texas Department of Transportation must learn how to build roads without massive planning and right-of-way acquisition delays.

Mr. Self truly doesn't care who builds the roads. Let's get it right before we start.

Fred L. Yarbrough, Frisco

© 2007 The Dallas Morning News Co

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