"I think Governor Perry is screwing us."
Monday, April 9, 2007
By BRAD WATSON
While Governor Rick Perry and others call it a way to get traffic moving, opponents claim plans to connect a toll road to U.S. Highway 75 to Interstate 35 is actually a "road to riches."
Critics of the plan to operate State Highway 121 in Denton and Collin counties as toll roads said the proposal is based on what a foreign company, that would build-out and run Highway 121, is telling investors.
As traffic snakes along the frontage roads of Highway 121, some drivers expressed a readiness for it to turn into a toll way.
"You have to pay to get some place around," said one motorist.
However, other drivers aren't so quick to believe in the project.
"I think Governor Perry is screwing us," said another driver.
But in a new offensive, toll opponents said that the Spanish company that would run 121 views area drivers not as customers, but as a way to make money in a monopoly.
In a document to investors, Cintra wrote that Highway 121 "runs through the most affluent counties of the Dallas area" and noted incomes are higher than average in the area.
A citizens group against toll roads said they believe the comments reveal the plan is cashing in on area residents.
"That's money that they intend to capture for their project, and for their profit that will leave those counties," said David Stall, CorridorWatch.
Officials who want Highway 121 as a toll road said it is not greed, but a desire for a quick completion and the upfront $2 billion from Cintra for use on other road projects that motivated them.
"We will be in gridlock by the year 2025 if we do not use these alternative tools to build these roadways," said Linda Koop, Regional Transportation Council.
Cintra told investors there's no competition since Highway121 "provides a corridor to Dallas on which there are no alternative roads."
Toll costs one way on the 23 mile segment will start at about $3.30 when it opens, but in 50 years would rise to more than $13.
Support for a two year moratorium on private toll roads grows in the legislature and on the frontage roads because of these concerns.
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