Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Perry uses "taxways" vs "tollways" doublespeak to defend private toll roads

Perry Speaks Out Against Moratorium On Private Toll Road Projects


Copyright 2007

Gov. Rick Perry spoke out Tuesday against proposed legislation that would put a two-year moratorium on private toll road projects including the Trans-Texas Corridor and urged lawmakers to “ensure vital transportation projects continue as planned.”

Several bills are pending in Austin aimed at putting the brakes on the massive highway project.

State Representative Lois W. Kolkhorst of Brenham has filed a bill that would kill the project altogether and a second measure that calls for a two-year moratorium on allowing private entities from buying the rights to build and operate toll roads.

During a visit with US Transportation Secretary Mary Peters Tuesday to the Samsung Austin Semiconductor expansion site, Perry said the state's current transportation system, which involves public-private partnerships to build toll roads, must go on if Texas is to continue attracting big companies and jobs.

Perry says the state will always own the land beneath private toll roads and there will always be a free road alternative for motorists.

The governor says federal highway money is drying up.

Both he and Peters said it's important to find road funding methods beyond the gas tax.

“Let no one be confused: there are no such things as freeways,” Perry said.

“There are taxways and tollways, and for 50 years we have tried taxways that have been underfunded by Austin and Washington and that have left local communities choking on pollution and brimming with congestion," he said.

The toll road moratorium bills in the Texas House and Senate remain pending in committee.

Work on the Central Texas portion of the Trans Texas Corridor project could begin within four years, the Texas Department of Transportation said last fall as it released a plan identifying near- mid- and long-term phases of the privately developed toll road.

The plan identifies portions of the corridor from north of Temple to near Hillsboro and from Georgetown to Temple as among the likely near-term phases of the project, on which work could begin by 2010 and could be completed by 2013.

The Temple-to-Hillsboro leg of the $184 billion corridor would cost an estimated $1.1 billion to design and build. The Georgetown-to-Temple leg would cost about $1 billion to design and build.

Designers ultimately envision a corridor with six separate passenger vehicle lanes and four commercial truck lanes; two high speed passenger rail lines, two freight rain lines and two commuter rail lines and a utility zone that will accommodate water, electric, natural gas, petroleum, fiber optic and telecommunications lines.

© 2007 Gray Television Group, Inc.: www.kwtx.com

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