Friday, April 13, 2007

"We are finally seeing citizen-driven legislation, which is refreshing in this state."

Toll Party happy with Lege's toll road moratorium


Drew Roesgen
KENS 5 Eyewitness News
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2007

Members of San Antonio's Toll Party were all smiles Thursday night after a big victory in Austin.

On Wednesday, the Texas House of Representatives passed a two-year moratorium on toll roads in Texas. The local anti-toll road groups hopes they'll get a finishing blow on the deal soon from the Texas Senate.

The Texas Department of Transportation has plans for several toll roads in San Antonio including one that would run from Texas 151 on the West Side, along Loop 1604, over to Interstate 10 on the East Side. Another would run along U.S. 281 from Loop 1604 up to the county line.

"It was a very exciting day for us," said Terry Hall of the San Antonio Toll Party. "We are finally seeing citizen-driven legislation, which is refreshing in this state."

TxDOT maintains that toll lanes, run by private companies, would always be optional for drivers.

"We will not be forcing anybody to drive on those toll lanes. They can still drive on those non-toll lanes," TxDOT spokeswoman Laura Lopez said.

The choice has already been made, Hall said.

"Over $500 million of our gas tax dollars have already been allocated to build toll roads. So, whether or not you take that road, all of that gas tax money is going into that toll road," Hall said.

The Texas Senate takes up the bill on Wednesday. However, Gov. Rick Perry has already promised to veto the moratorium. It's not clear whether there are enough votes, or time, left in the session to override the veto.

TxDOT will continue planning for the toll roads because they believe future congestion will have drivers begging for relief.

TxDOT still plans to begin construction on its planned toll roads in 2008.

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