Saturday, April 07, 2007

"The powers-that-be misled us. They lied in the past, they're lying now, and they'll continue to lie. Nothing changes but the content of the lies."


Paying for Texas highways

April 07, 2007

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Copyright 2007

Private toll roads are an excuse for the Texas Department of Transportation and other entities to accept up-front corporate money to spend on other projects. It's not about relieving congestion.

It's a disturbing way to fund other road projects. Then the taxpaying public gets saddled with excessive tolls and hidden fees for the duration of a 50-year contract.

Has anyone in power ever stopped to think that we 'little people' in the Metroplex don't want every new and old road to be a stinking toll road? We don't want to drive around with cameras pointed at our faces and receive 10 bills from 10 different toll companies with 10 different charges.

I attended a March 1 state Senate hearing on transportation and toll roads. Yes, I was part of what a local newspaper called a 'howling mob.'

Guess why Texans are howling? We're sick and tired of being taxed, tolled and gouged to death by state agencies, the private sector, public utilities, and insurance and drug companies.

How arrogant are Dallas-Fort Worth political and business leaders, our local newspapers and the normally compassionate columnists to want Texas voters/taxpayers/the driving public to run along, shut up and get with the program without question or review? We see and understand what's going on.

Linda Lancaster, Arlington

Since Gov. Rick Perry announced the need for a Trans-Texas Corridor, I've been opposed to the idea. But in the last two months, I've driven to Laredo four times. Now that I've seen the light of day, I'm absolutely in favor of this massive project.

On March 23, I left Laredo at 6 a.m. and arrived home in North Richland Hills at 5:45 p.m. -- 11 hours and 45 minutes for what's normally a seven-hour drive, including fuel and rest stops.

Now that I'm committed to favoring this huge project, I'm completely opposed to allowing anyone other than the state to build and operate a toll road. Why should we let a foreign country reap the profits of Texans using their own road? If ownership is such a good deal for the Spaniards, why shouldn't it be a good deal for us?

Remember when the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike paid off its bonds and the toll booths came down? This corridor could be done the same way.

Also, it seems to be time for a two-tiered toll system: one toll for Texas-registered vehicles and another (with a 25 percent surcharge) for out-of-state and out-of-country vehicles.

Now that I've seen the miserable traffic on Interstate 35 between Laredo and Fort Worth, I see the wisdom in building this wide road. I just think that Perry is doing us a horrible disservice by allowing the operation of a Texas road by foreigners.

Gene Barnett, North Richland Hills

Much opinion has been voiced on how to finance roads in Texas. Lately, we learned that monies spent on specialty license plates and meant for the upkeep of our parks was diverted to other areas. And, of course, our parks system is hurting.

The same is true for our roads. We now know that not all of our state gasoline tax has been used for maintenance and construction of roads. We're told that some of those monies were siphoned off to other 'needs.'

What if, from Day One, we had an appropriately set gasoline tax and every penny of it went only for roads? Many think that if the gas tax money had been used wisely, there would be no need for toll roads. But we'll never know.

The powers-that-be have misled us. They lied to us in the past, they're lying now, and they'll continue to lie. Nothing changes but the content of the lies.

Michael E. Holland, Fort Worth

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