Friday, April 06, 2007

"Respected transportation experts have given the legislature a clear warning."

Letter to the Editor

Road Warning


David K. Stall
Houston Business Journal
Copyright 2007

Respected transportation experts have given the legislature a clear warning.
Among them Senator Robert Nichols who sits on the Transportation and Homeland Security Committee and Jere Thompson Jr., former chairman of the North Texas Turnpike Authority. Both have raised issues with the state’s toll road policy.

Senator Nichols who just completed eight years on the Texas Transportation Commission has serious concerns with the pending SH-121 contract. Nichols says contracts containing those terms will create a monopoly forcing Texans to pay ever-increasing tolls while leaving very few alternatives.

Thompson describes the SH-121 contract as a perfect example of a bad deal. The state’s Spanish partner will take billions in profit for very little risk. Those dollars will benefit the company and their banks instead of funding additional transportation projects.

It’s no surprise that those who will profit from the SH-121 deal, including TxDOT and others ready to spend the concessionaire’s upfront money, steadfastly support the agreement. On the other side are the citizens and consumers who will ultimately pay for the roads plus the hefty private profits. Both sides want highways built quickly, the question is how much taxpayer money should be given away in the process.

The majority of legislators recognize there is a problem and support bills that give temporary pause in the contract process to allow for review. But two key legislators, Representative Mike Krusee and Senator John Carona, chairmen of House and Senate transportation committees, are blocking those bills and that opportunity. Why?

Decisions carry consequences and when blame is assigned for bad decisions the most damning question is, “What did you know and when did you know it?” History will forever record that the Legislature knew these things now when they had the opportunity and obligation to act.

David K. Stall is co-founder of, a non-partisan grassroots organization.

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