Saturday, July 14, 2007

"Final solution? Elect new commissioners."

Tolls and public ire raised

July 13, 2007

Houston Chronicle
Copyright 2007

A poke in the eye

I must be the only one in Houston who remembers when they passed a bond issue for the first toll road segment. I thought that the bonds could be repaid by the revenue from the tolls that were taken in. Once the bonds were paid off, the tolls should be stopped. That's how it's been in other areas.

I also recall reading a report that the revenue from the tollway was exceeding expectations. Why didn't they use the surplus to pay off the debt faster than scheduled? Instead, it seems the toll road authority is planning to plow the money into new projects.

And now to add insult to injury, the toll road authority raises the toll. This is a poke in the eye to those who use the toll roads.


Stop while we can

The working man's pocket is not infinitely deep! Stop this toll road building now while it's still a baby. Building roads for the benefit of land developers does nothing but create more congestion. Most people would use mass transit if there was a mass transit system. Houston is already far behind.


Solutions galore

Harris County Tollroad Authority admits that congestion pricing is not widely used in the United States. In California it is used with an eight-lane highway, with two lanes dedicated for EZTAG.

Congestion pricing irrationally penalizes (discriminates against) wage earners traveling to and from their jobs. The comments made by Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack were simply void of common sense.

The two-lane Westpark Tollway is proof that both the commissioners and their consultants should receive a failing grade: They failed to estimate the volume accurately.

For immediate help, police with signs could inform drivers to maintain the 65 mph speed limit between Old Westheimer and Gessner during morning and evening rush hours.

A long-term solution would be to build a limited-access upper deck along the heavily congested stretches of Highway 59.

Final solution? Elect new commissioners.


Look for speed trap

A partial answer is to spend some toll revenues on a proper interchange between Westpark westbound and Sam Houston northbound.

You don't need to be a high-priced consultant or retiring politician to figure it out, just take a drive through that intersection in the afternoon rush hour.

(But if you do, be careful, because there is often a radar set up to trap those going over the speed limit.)


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