Friday, September 07, 2007

"TxDOT is making a big mistake"

Taking a Toll

TxDOT has no business considering idea of turning interstates into tollways

September 07, 2007

The Lufkin Daily News
Copyright 2007

We support Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's proposed legislation that would keep states from charging tolls on federal highways that have already been built.

It's sad that her home state is the one who caused her to file the bill.

The Texas Department of Transportation is trying to get Congress to let the state "buy back" parts of existing interstates and add toll lanes, according to an Associated Press story. The department also has proposed tax breaks for private company investment in projects to convert interstates to tollways, the story stated. And TxDOT, which has little money to play with, has launched a $9 million ad campaign on toll roads.

That makes no sense. Taxpayers have already paid for our U.S. interstates. We shouldn't have to start paying for the privilege of using them.

Hutchison's bill, S.B. 2019, would:

* Prohibit collection of tolls on any part of federal highways that already are built and where no toll is collected.

* Prohibit imposing tolls on federal highways bought back by states on or after the day the bill goes into effect.

Other people, thankfully, are joining Hutchison in the fight to make sure Congress doesn't fall for TxDOT's ridiculous idea. U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez of San Antonio has called hearings on the plans, and Sen. John Cornyn is a co-sponsor of Hutchison's bill.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry hasn't commented on the issue yet, although a spokesman said state law already prohibits turning existing roads into toll roads without local approval. Then again, Perry has been a staunch proponent of building new toll roads across the state.

It's obvious that TxDOT sees toll roads as the only way to effectively fund our highways of the future. The agency is making a big mistake by thinking it can go back and apply that concept to the roads we've already built.

© 2007 The Lufkin Daily News:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE