Friday, April 27, 2007

"This bill brings Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor project to a standstill."

Senate Votes To Stop Private Toll Roads

April 27, 2007

Copyright 2007

Lawmakers voted Friday to stop private toll road construction for two years, because they believe the Gov. Rick Perry will veto the bill.

If he does, the Legislature can override his veto with a two-thirds vote, but they've got to be in session to do it.

House Bill 1892 would put a stop to privately financed toll roads for two years and block the selling of Texas roads to private, and often foreign, companies.

"I was sent here by my constitutents to do what they wanted, and I intend to do that," said Rep. Wayne Smith, R-Baytown. "I don't know how the governor will be, and that's up to the governor."

Like rush hour traffic, this bill brings Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor project to a standstill.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously.

Lawmakers voiced concerns about competition penalties that would hurt the state; a private company's ability to raise toll rates whenever; little, if any, local input; and too much financial risk if the state had to buy back a stretch of roadway.

"You drive a certain section, then you have to pay again once you cross another section, you know, that's just ridiculous," said Austin driver Fernando Reyna.

Reyna, a commercial driver who moves equipment, uses the toll roads when he's working.

He likes the convenience, but when he's not on the job...

"As far as driving on it with my personal vehicle, I don't see the point," Reyna said.

"We cannot have public policy in this state that shuts down road construction, kills jobs, harms air quality, prevents access to federal highway dollars and creates an environment within local government that is ripe for political corruption," Perry said.

There has not been an override of a governor's veto in Texas since 1979.

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