Tuesday, March 27, 2007

'Toll roads or no roads' a false dichotomy

Toll road options, notions

March 27, 2007

Houston Chronicle
Copyright 2007

Statewide authority

IT seemed to me that Geoffrey Segal posed a false dichotomy in his March 25 Outlook article, "For whom the tolls pay / For Texans, the choice is a stark one: It's toll roads or no roads."

Aren't there any other choices besides these two?

How about funding the roads through an increase in the fuel tax? That may be a good choice, even though it would be a hard one.

Another choice might be a statewide toll road authority, modeled on the successful Harris County Toll Road Authority.

Ohio built its turnpike system 50 years ago, using bonds that were paid off ahead of time, essentially in competition with the burgeoning interstate system.

A Texas toll road authority could answer to the people through the governor and the state Legislature, which would allow the necessary roads to be funded by their users but controlled in the public interest.

Jersey Village

A powerful outcry

I ATTENDED two public meetings that were held to protest the Texas Department of Transportation's proposal to turn State Highway 249 — from Beltway 8 to Spring Cypress — into a "toll road."

The idea was quashed, thanks to the level of public outcry.

Unfortunately, the folks in Dallas weren't so lucky.

Their state Highway 121 became a toll road after it was funded and built by tax revenues.


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