Sober(?) Mike Krusee warms up for career as toll road lobbyist
Aug 20, 2008
by Jeff Robinson
Utah lawmakers took tips on highway funding from a Texas legislator this morning. Texas Republican Representative Mike Krusee joined them on Capitol Hill. He told the Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee that with federal money drying up, the only way to pay for new highways is to make them toll roads.
"Guess how many roads pay for themselves in taxes? Zero. Not a one. Most of them are less than 50 percent," said Krusee. "Imagine if you're a grocery a store owner, and you decide, I'm gonna sell sirloin at a buck a pound, and I'm gonna sell milk at a dime a gallon. That's basically what's happening with transportation. We're letting people use our roads for three cents a mile, when it costs us 20 to 30 cents a mile."
Krusee noted that both the state and federal government will collect less and less money from gas tax revenues as residents buy more fuel efficient cars or drive less.
The lawmaker, who chairs the Texas House Committee on Transportation, also urged lawmakers to consider congestion pricing. It's a method of collecting tolls during peak traffic times so that fewer cars use the road.
"If the road gets really congested, you just raise the price until some people decide to use alternatives, and that road is free-flow," said Krusee. "When you can tell people and you can tell businesses that they have a certainty in traveling from A to B at all times, I think that's really valuable for your economy, and I think it's also good for your quality of life."
Krusee's remarks to the Utah legislature came as the state decides whether to make the planned Mountain View Corridor a toll road. Several west side cities have urged the legislature not to do so, though UDOT says it will face a $16.5 billion shortfall in the next two decades with the current revenue streams.
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