Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Both Republicans and Democrats, agreed Wednesday they are opposed to the proposed tolling of the Grand Parkway."

Candidates denounce Segment C of Grand Parkway plan


Fort Bend Sun
Copyright 2008

Candidates in local races, both Republicans and Democrats, agreed Wednesday they are opposed to the proposed tolling of the Grand Parkway, particularly Segment C, that would impact Fort Bend neighborhoods and businesses.

Under the proposal, Segment C would expend the Grand Parkway across U.S. 59 along Crabb River Road with an overpass.

U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Stafford, who is running for re-election against Republican Pete Olson and Libertarian John Wieder, said he opposes toll roads in general.

“I believe our founding fathers intended for us to have equal access to public infrastructure,” Lampson said. “I want to do what I can to promote access to those facilities.”

Steve Host, Republican candidate for state representative for district 27, said he doesn’t agree with the proposal from the Texas Department of Transportation’s plan.

“I don’t believe it’s a road for transportation,” Host said. “I think it’s more of a development project.”

State Rep. Dora Olivo, D- District 27, urged residents to continue to organize and connect with other organizations so they all can fight the proposed toll road together

“Our roads belong to the people, we pay for them,” she said. “When they started this proposal they talked about beautiful four lane road and making it a scenic route and we need to stick to that.”

State Rep. John Zerwas, R- District 28, said even though his district isn’t directly impacted he could offer his experience with the Trans-Texas Corridor, an example of what can be done when residents come together and offer alternative solutions.

“TxDOT shelved [the Trans-Texas Corridor],” he said. “That project is not going to occur in the near future.”

In June, TxDOT announced its plans to use existing highways and roads instead of constructing the corridor in rural parts of north and west Houston

Richard Morrison, Democratic candidate for Fort Bend County precinct 1 commissioner, said if elected he would not allow a toll road project to be brought to voters as a county bond referendum.

Morrison, a Greatwood resident, said he firmly opposed the Segment C project and would continue to fight it even if he is not the next commissioner.

Republican candidate for Precinct 1 Commissioner Greg Ordeneaux said he supported expanding Crabb River Road as an alternative.

“We need to find viable alternative for the future of mobility needs in Fort Bend County,” Ordeneaux said.

County Commissioner Andy Meyers, representing precinct 3, said Segment C is not toll feasible.

“I turn 65 this year and I don’t think we’ll see Segment C built in my life time,” Meyers said.

He said the county is working with local legislators to help pass a bill during the 2009 session to turn over state projects like the Grand Parkway to local officials so citizens can have more control over the roads built in their communities.

Meyers is running unopposed to keep his seat on the county commission.

Paul Turner, the moderator for the candidates forum, said all the candidates on the ballot were invited to the event but not everyone chose to participate.

The candidates forum was sponsored by S.T.O.P, a local group of business and homeowners opposed to the Segment C plan of the Grand Parkway. The organization is advocating for a return to the original design of a scenic four-lane highway without tolls.

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