Friday, February 22, 2008

"Free enterprise seems to be a concept that TxDOT and many government agencies don't promote any more."

TxDOT projects violate private property rights


Margaret Green, Buckholts
The Cameron Herald
Copyright 2008

Dear Texas Landowners and Taxpayers:

If you attended last Thursday night's TxDOT meeting about the 79 Loop around Rockdale, you heard some very disturbing information. No one likes their property taken by eminent domain.

But, the ‘new way' of doing road construction in Texas goes against every time-honored principle of private property rights and free enterprise that our society has practiced since our founding.

Simply put:

1. TxDOT is claiming that they are running low on funds for new road construction at this time.

But, the state plans to take/buy more right of way than they need at this time (perhaps will ever need) from landowners. They won't use it now and you can't use it anymore, ever (the right-of-way portion). And many local landowners are having 45, 75, or more acres split by this loop, leaving them no access to a large part of their property, unless some willing neighbor will grant them access on the ‘other side of the road.'

Where is TxDOT getting this money to purchase extra, unnecessary right-of-way at this time, if they are as low on funding as they would have us believe?

Actually, TxDOT has more money than ever before for road construction. This past election, voters passed an amendment giving TxDOT an additional $5 billion bonding capacity. Add that to the $10 billion they already had and you get $15 billion - more than two years of their whole budget - for new projects. (This money is not backed only by toll revenue as TxDOT would like us to think. It is there and available for new, free road projects.)

A very small spot audit by the Texas State Auditor's office found that TxDOT had ‘mis-coded' 21 of 32 billing statements checked (66 percent). They were coded ‘engineering construction,' but were actually used for advertising in favor of the Trans Texas Corridor. TxDOT is currently being sued for this mis-use of taxpayer funds that should have gone to road construction projects.

2. TxDOT is using a method called ‘controlled access' buy. Why? Thursday night Mr. Appleton stated that this prevent too many entrance points which ‘wear out the pavement.' Does he really think we all drove in on our turnip trucks just because we choose to live in the country?

3. Controlled access is the footprint of toll roads. Then, it is easier to have just a few entrances and exits to block off when TxDOT tells us they just can't afford this loop as a free route and they must toll it.

4. “Yes, your land will be devalued and you will not have access to some parts of it.” These were words hear Thursday night. Free enterprise seems to be a concept that TxDOT and many government agencies don't promote any more. Who ever heard, until recently, of a road coming by or through your property, making it less valuable? Usually, road frontage increases your property value. You, or some eager buyer who will give you top dollar, might want to set up a business along a busy loop and practice free enterprise.

Not anymore, if TxDOT has their way.

I, for one, prefer our time-honored traditions of free roads, free access and free enterprise.

© 2008 The Cameron Herald:

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