Thursday, June 05, 2008

Transportation Transformation Group ('T2') is composed of those who would profit from Public Private Partnerships ('P3s')

Texan leads group seeking federal highway funding changes


By Gary Martin
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2008

WASHINGTON — A member of the Texas Transportation Commission is heading a national coalition proposing public-private funding, including tolls, to raise new revenue to improve and expand federal highways.

Ned Holmes of Houston announced the formation of the Transportation Transformation Group, or T2, at a National Press Club news conference on Thursday.

Holmes said the group is proposing a fundamental change in the way the federal government funds transportation projects, with the goal of giving local leaders more authority to shape policy and flexibility in spending federal money.

Acknowledging that some of the group's proposals would be controversial, Holmes said, “I come from a state that is trying to do things differently.”

A Texas proposal to toll existing federal highways to build more roads was met last year with howls of protest.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, sponsored bipartisan legislation to block the tolling proposal.

Texas transportation officials retreated from the idea, but they still want to use tolls to expand state highways to reduce congestion and improve safety.

The newly formed T2 endorses public-private solutions to the transportation crisis.

T2 members include former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., and retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey.

Gephardt said he understands the controversy toll roads create, but they represent a more realistic approach to raising revenue than increasing the federal gas tax at time when oil is selling at historic highs.

In Austin this week, the Sunset Advisory Commission recommended a dramatic restructuring of the Transportation Commission, saying the five-member appointed board is “out of control” and had lost its credibility with the public.

The advisory commission, which reviews state agencies, recommended replacing the board with a single commissioner, appointed by the governor, with more oversight authority for the Legislature.

© 2008 San Antonio Express-News

Transportation Transformation Group members

  • Banc of America Securities LLC
  • Econolite Group, Inc.
  • Goldman, Sachs & Co.
  • HNTB Corp.
  • JP Morgan
  • MARKIV Industries
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Northeastern University
  • Nossaman Guthner Knox & Elliott LLP
  • Pioneer Institute
  • Reason Foundation
  • The Office of Governor Mitch Daniels
  • The Office of Governor Rick Perry
  • Port of Houston
  • Florida Department of Transportation
  • Indiana Department of Transportation
  • North Texas Tollway Authority
  • Texas Department of Transportation
  • Utah Department of Transportation

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