Friday, April 18, 2008

"The compromise will give title to the road to the NTTA, and it will be permitted to collect tolls on the highway indefinitely."

TxDOT, tollway agency reach deal on Highway 161

April 18, 2008

The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2008

North Texas Tollway Authority and Texas Department of Transportation leaders announced a deal Friday that they said will put highway crews to work building the State Highway 161 toll road as soon as Monday.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst met with leaders of both agencies and key North Texas senators Friday to ramp up the pressure to reach an agreement after negotiations over how much the toll road was worth broke down earlier this week.

The result, leaders of both agencies said, is a plan that will reduce the amount of money the region sees as an upfront payment for a toll contract that will run in perpetuity. In return, the region will receive 50 percent of all net proceeds from the toll road after the first 52 years.

"An agreement has been reached," Lt. Gov. Dewhurst announced as he emerged from the meeting Friday, held in the offices of Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas. "I want to congratulate TxDOT, and its executive director, along with NTTA for reaching an agreement that should allow this project to get started on time."

The terms of the agreement will require approval by both the Texas Transportation Commission, which meets next week in Austin, and the NTTA board of directors. Sen. Carona said he expects the NTTA board to meet to approve the terms over the weekend.

TxDOT executive director Amadeo Saenz said the agreement reached Friday appeared well within authority already delegated by the Commission, and said he expects the terms to be ratified. NTTA chairman Paul Wageman also said his fellow board members will need to vote, but said he fully expects the board to approve the terms.

A key sticking point in negotiations had been the length of the toll contract. NTTA had agreed to cover $860 million in construction costs, plus play $298 million upfront to the region to fund construction on other roads. But it had insisted that it be allowed to own and operate the toll road "in perpetuity."

TxDOT said allowing NTTA to do so made the contract worth significantly more than the nearly $1.2 billion total price NTTA was offering. TxDOT insisted that any term beyond 52 years had to be negotiated seperately, citing state rules that forbid private toll operators from signing leases longer than that.

The compromise will give title to the road to the NTTA, and it will be permitted to collect tolls on the highway indefinitely. Beginning in year 53, the agency will pay the state half of the revenues received, minus operating costs. The state will also split all costs for major repairs and rebuilding that will be needed.

© 2008 The Dallas Morning News:

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"NTTA would turn 161 into a toll road and collect revenue from it for 52 years."

Agreement reached on Hwy 161 toll road

April 18, 2008

Copyright 2008

DALLAS – After months of negotiations, it appears Highway 161, still under construction, will become a toll road after all.

Friday afternoon, state Senators John Carona and Florence Shapiro, along with Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, helped TxDOT and the NTTA reach a breakthrough in Dallas.

Neither side would release precise details about costs and years involved until the NTTA board approves it. NTTA called a special board meeting Sunday afternoon to consider the proposal.

NTTA spokeswoman Sherita Coffelt said the agreement reached is similar to one of its own proposals in which the NTTA would turn 161 into a toll road and collect revenue from it for 52 years. After that, Coffelt said, the NTTA and TXDOT will share toll revenues.

Highway 161 runs north and south from I-20 in Grand Prairie to 183 in Irving.


© 2008 WFAA-TV:

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"Sixty-two meetings were held between TxDOT and NTTA to resolve 'market valuation,' and they still haven't resolved it."

Dewhurst, legislators to meet in Dallas to ease Highway 161 deadlock

April 18, 2008

The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2008

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and other key legislators are expected to meet behind closed doors in Dallas today to end a deadlock over State Highway 161 that has threatened to derail plans to toll the highway, a development that could cost North Texas more than $1.2 billion in road funds.

Regional leaders have insisted that the 10-mile Highway 161 in western Dallas County be built as a toll road. But negotiations between the North Texas Tollway Authority and the state transportation department over how much the toll contract is worth unexpectedly collapsed late Wednesday night, just hours before construction crews were to begin building the highway.

The Texas Department of Transportation has insisted for weeks that if no agreement was in place by April 16, the road could not be built as a toll road.

That prospect prompted howls of protest from local elected officials. Senate transportation committee chairman John Carona, R-Dallas, stepped in Thursday to initiate the unusual last-minute involvement of some of Texas' most powerful elected officials.

"I am working hard to facilitate open conversation between all parties involved in the construction of SH 161," Mr. Dewhurst said in a written statement about his efforts to resolve the impasse.

Gov. Rick Perry's deputy chief of staff and his top transportation adviser, Kris Heckmann, will also attend. House Speaker Tom Craddick was not invited and will not attend, his spokesman said Thursday.

Today's high-level meeting is designed to produce an agreement, said state Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, a transportation committee member who will also attend

"I think we need to sit around the room and have all the parties look eyeball to eyeball," Ms. Shapiro said.

NTTA offer

Racing to beat the April 16 deadline imposed by TxDOT, NTTA last week offered what it called its best and final offer. Its proposal valued the Highway 161 project at $1.2 billion and, if accepted by state transportation officials, would have let the highway proceed as a toll project. The Regional Transportation Council voted 16-13 on Tuesday to support NTTA's proposal.

But TxDOT executive director Amadeo Saenz rejected NTTA's proposal late Wednesday night. Mr. Saenz ordered work on the highway to be delayed and extended his own agency's deadline through the end of the weekend to provide time for negotiations.

That decision "pulled the rug out from under the region," Ms. Shapiro said.

But on Thursday, Mr. Saenz said that decision was based on what's best for the region, and department leaders said Thursday that NTTA's proposal was for hundreds of millions of dollars less than what the toll contract was really worth. Leaving that money on the table, they said, would only make it harder for North Texas to reduce congestion on its traffic-snarled highways.

Mr. Saenz said he is prepared to continue negotiating with NTTA throughout the weekend, and said he looked forward to the meeting with senior legislators today.

"We have to meet the deadline to build the project, or yes it will have to be a gas-tax road," Mr. Saenz said. "Maybe it can be resolved over the weekend. We are very close."

Michael Morris, director of the Regional Transportation Council, said he canceled plans to be in Washington to attend today's meeting. He said that his discussions with NTTA and TxDOT on Thursday had helped the parties resolve many of their differences and that he expects them to reach an agreement today.

NTTA chairman Paul Wageman said his agency's offer will remain on the table all weekend, but he said its board will not renegotiate the terms of the proposal. He said TxDOT should unequivocally accept the proposal that has been endorsed by the RTC.

"We are here to do what is best for the region," Mr. Wageman said. "If TxDOT wants to extend the deadline that it has imposed on this project, which we have said all along is an arbitrary deadline, then of course we will not let our offer lapse during that time. But I also want to be clear: Our proposal is our best and final offer. We made our best effort to get this project moving and to bring value to the region. We're not going to renegotiate our terms."

'We need this roadway'

Ms. Shapiro said it's long past time for the agencies to agree on how the road will be built.

"The three entities have got to come to an understanding," she said. "Sixty-two meetings were held between TxDOT and NTTA to resolve market valuation, and they still haven't resolved it. The more time this takes, the more we in this region are the losers. We need this roadway so desperately."

Mr. Dewhurst and the others at today's meeting cannot order either party to reach an agreement – as both TxDOT and NTTA are state entities directly answerable only to their governing boards.

Nevertheless, TxDOT finds itself in an unusually vulnerable position, with the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission set to give it a top-to-bottom look, and a Legislature mostly hostile to its push for private toll roads ready to reconvene in January.

Mr. Saenz said today's meeting will probably determine how quickly his agency and NTTA can come to an agreement on Highway 161.

"It all depends on what happens tomorrow," he said. "The crux is that the project needs to be completed on a certain time schedule. ... If there is no resolution, then I guess [it won't be a toll road]. But I am hoping that there will be a resolution. If we have to, we can extend our deadline a day or two."

© 2008 The Dallas Morning News:

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"An expensive headache for Avis."

Avis parent may pay $190,000 for unpaid tolls

Settlement still requires approval by county leaders

April 18, 2008

Houston Chronicle
Copyright 2008

Blowing off a $1 toll behind the wheel of a rental car may seem like no big deal, but it has turned into an expensive headache for Avis.

P.V. Holding Corp., parent company for the rental car giant, has agreed to pay Harris County $190,000 to cover $12,116.47 in unpaid tolls and hundreds of thousands of dollars in administrative and attorney fees that accrued over the years.

Commissioners Court on Tuesday will consider the settlement, one of the largest ever involving toll road violators.

A spokesman for Avis did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The unpaid tolls were accumulated by thousands of drivers between 2003 and 2007, said James Harris, an attorney with Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, the Toll Road Authority's collection firm.

"We all know of certain people who will get on this road and have no intention of paying," Harris said. "Avis has to deal with those people just as we have to deal with those people."

Before the two sides agreed on the proposed settlement, Avis was facing a $374,000 bill, including nearly $200,000 in lawyer fees.

Like several other large car rental companies, Avis has begun using an electronic system similar to an EZ Tag to pay the county for its customers' toll road use.

'A good deal'

Before that system was in place, the county had to ask rental car companies to hand over information about drivers who skipped out on tolls.

Avis did not comply, Harris said.

Over time, administrative fees, delinquency fees and court fees on the unpaid tolls ballooned to $157,000.

"In order to save time, money and get the county its tolls, we agreed to the settlement," Harris said.

"It's a good deal for Harris County and a good deal for P.V. Holding."

The county still is working with other car rental companies, some of which owe even more, Harris said. He declined to elaborate.

© 2008 The Houston

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North Texas politicians squabble over Texas 161 toll road conversion

Agencies try to reach Texas 161 deal

Apr. 18, 2008

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Copyright 2008

ARLINGTON -- State lawmakers will intervene in a dispute over the proposed Texas 161 toll road in Grand Prairie to ensure that the project is at least partly built before the planned 2009 opening of the Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington.

Officials from the North Texas Tollway Authority and the Texas Transportation Department, who are in a drawn-out dispute over the value of the 11-mile toll road, will meet today at the office of state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, in an attempt to compromise. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is also expected to attend.

Meanwhile, North Texas officials expressed frustration Thursday that Texas 161, a sorely needed reliever route for Texas 360, is bogged down by state-level politics.

"That road has tremendous consequences for us, and yet we can't do anything about it," Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck said Thursday morning during a transportation forum sponsored by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

Many of the key players in the Texas 161 debate attended the forum at Tarrant County College Southeast Campus, a few miles south of the proposed road. The event was organized before the tollway authority and Transportation Department arrived at their stalemate.

The debate

Many officials had believed the dispute was over. Last week, Transportation Department officials appeared to be content with the tollway authority's "final" proposal for Texas 161, valuing the road at $548 million above the construction cost.

The money would be paid to the state for use on other Metroplex road projects. Under the proposal, the tollway authority would keep the road in perpetuity and make it part of the Dallas-area tollway system.

Transportation Department officials now want to limit the deal to 52 years or get a bigger upfront payment from the tollway authority. If the road were leased to a private developer, the North Texas region could get as much as $1.5 billion over 52 years -- the true market value, according to Amadeo Saenz Jr., the Transportation Department's executive director.

The agencies also disagree on other issues, including interest rate risks and revenue-sharing provisions if traffic on the road exceeds projections.

Placing a true market value on the road, rather than settling for the tollway authority's figure, ensures that the public gets the biggest payoff possible from the project, Saenz said during an interview in Arlington.

The market value is important because if the tollway authority ultimately decided not to build the project, private developers would use that value to determine how much they were willing to pay for the road, he said.

Finding a solution

Jorge Figueredo, executive director of the North Texas Tollway Authority, told the forum crowd Thursday that he wants to mend fences with the Transportation Department. "One way or another -- us, TxDOT, somebody -- that road is going to get delivered."

Meanwhile, contractor Williams Brothers of Houston has been hired to start work on Texas 161, but crews have been told not to turn dirt until the interagency dispute is settled. The delay is adding tens of thousands of dollars a day to the project.

Arlington chamber President Wes Jurey expressed optimism that a compromise is near: "Although the perception is we're miles apart, we're really only inches apart."

Carona said state lawmakers will take steps to rewrite laws so a third party is used to negotiate values in future projects. That proposal will be among many changes in transportation law discussed during the 2009 legislative session, which will begin in January, he said.

GORDON DICKSON, 817-685-3816

© 2008 Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

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"This shows that grassroots activities can make an impact."

Waller Council forms group to fight TTC

Related Link: Texas 391 Commission Alliance


By:Robin McDonald
Waller County News-Citizen
Copyright 2008

WALLER - Waller City Council passed a resolution approving the formation of a Waller County Sub-Regional Planning Commission as a tool to fight the Trans-Texas Corridor proposed Interstate 69.

The Texas Department of Transportation is presently working on the draft Environmental Impact Statement, which will provide information on how the TTC might affect Waller County, among other areas.

In February, the city came out in opposition to the encroachment of the TTC, through the city limits and extra-territorial jurisdiction.

According to the Citizens for a Better Waller County web site, the TTC-69 project is a high priority corridor for the Trans Texas Corridor. It is planned to be approximately 600 miles long, running from the Texas/Mexico border to northeast Texas, roughly following U.S. Highway 59. Waller and Grimes Counties are in the current study area.

With the WCSRPC, Waller can join with other municipality and county planning commissions to request that TxDOT disclose their environmental impact studies on the area. TxDOT is required by law to coordinate with Regional Planning Committees, and may not ignore them, in accordince with the authority granted in Chapter 391 of the Texas Local Government Code.

Members from the Citizens for a Better Waller County were present at the meeting, including President Don Garrett, Vice President Trey Duhon, and directors Bill Herman Michelle Sorenson.

Garrett spoke, and noted that Chapter 391 is a "very important piece of legislation" holding TxDOT accountable, while it attempts to push the corridor, in some cases over 1200 feet wide with few on and off ramps, through rural counties without scrutinizing the environmental impact.

"Having this committee empowers you," Garrett noted, "and they have to coordinate with you.

"This gives notice to TXDOT that if I-69 comes through Waller County, they are put on notice," Garret said, explaining if TXDOT were to ignore the requests of the commission, the city, along with other communities in the area, could file litigation against the Department of Transportation to ensure they comply with the law. Other surrounding counties have done this in the past, after TxDOT ignored their requests.

Council woman Nancy Arnold noted, "This shows that grassroots activities can make an impact."

Councilman Maurice Hart agreed, saying, "We need to have a voice in this. There are no people more qualified to determine what the needs and wants are in Waller County, than the people here in Waller County," he concluded.

Director Troy Duhon said, "it's imperative that we do this sooner rather than later," explaining that Governor Rick Perry, in his zeal to push the TTC through, may try to have a special session and try to change the law so that Chapter 391 no longer exists or wields power through grassroots organizations.

© 2008 Community Newspapers Online:

Related Link: Texas 391 Commission Alliance:

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"TxDOT would be forced to give full disclosure of finances, contracts, and environmental reports on the TTC."

SRPC to allow input on TTC

Related Link: Texas 391 Commission Alliance

April 17, 2008

By: Chantel E. Gage
Waller County News Citizen
Copyright 2008

HEMPSTEAD - The Waller County Commissioners' Court approved a resolution authorizing the formation of a Waller County Sub-Regional Planning Commission, during Tuesday's meeting at the county courthouse.

"A Sub-Regional Planning Commission is a commission made up a group of people who must be members of the Houston-Galveston Area Council for Region 16," said Trey Duhon, vice president of Citizens for a Better Waller County.

The SRPC is being created under Chapter 391 under the Texas local government code. The code allows cities to form a planning commission that gives local governments the ability to have interlocal coordination when it comes to private property and land. This includes state agencies such as the Texas Department of Transportation.

"The main reason why this commission is being created is because of the TransTexas Corridor. This will give us the ability to have input on how it is going to be done," Duhon said.

"TxDOT would be forced to give full disclosure of finances, contracts, and environmental reports on the TTC."

The TTC is a corridor that would basically stretch along U.S. Highway 59 from Texarkana/Shreveport, La. to Laredo and U.S. Highway 77 as well as U.S. Highway 281 in South Texas.

In some instances the corridor runs straight through Waller County citizen's property.

According from TxDOT, the governmental body is trying to create the corridor in order to facilitate and control the movement of people and goods in and through the state, providing economic enhancement, and addressing transportation needs for the next 20 to 50 years.

"The reason why we went straight to the city of Waller and Waller County is because of time. We are concerned that the government might change the law to restrict the authority that the Sub-Regional Planning Commission has," said Don Garrett, president of Citizens for a Better Waller County.

The requirements to create a SRPC are "a minimum of two cities or one city and one county, and once created, other entities can join," said Duhon.

Since the SRPC has been approved by the commissioners, Garrett and Duhon plan to ask other cities and local government entities to join the SRPC so that they can have direct input into state transportation projects which impact their jurisdiction.

© 2008 Community Newspapers Online:

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Perry's unpopular Trans-Texas Corridor...may kill him among the Republican base."

Perry pledge to run in 2010 pumps up White's camp

April 17, 2008

Houston Chronicle
Copyright 2008

Some Republicans groaned at Gov. Rick Perry's announcement that he plans to seek another term in 2010, but Mayor Bill White's camp reacted with glee.

White has made no effort to hide the fact that he is looking to run for governor after being term-limited out of the mayor's office next year.

And Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the biggest vote-getter in Texas history, has been more than hinting that she plans to "come home" to run for the same office. She outlined to Texas Monthly last November a plan to resign the Senate in 2009 to make the race, while saying it was too early to make a formal announcement.

She more than hinted she would run two years ago, too, but Perry stared her down. (He also stared down then-Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who chose to run as an independent.)

In your face, Kay

This time Hutchison has been assuring supporters she intends to make the race.

Perry's choice of the Dallas Morning News as the outlet for his decision was something of an in-your-face response to the gubernatorial musings of Hutchison, who hails from Dallas.

A primary fight between the two of them delights White supporters.

For one thing, as popular as Hutchison is, winning the Republican nomination is not a sure thing for her.

She has alienated the conservative "base" by voting for funding for stem-cell research, by supporting the SCHIP program that President Bush vetoed and for somewhat moderate stands on immigration.

Perry is still strong with the "base." But he won only 39 percent of the vote in 2006 against a lineup of Democrat Chris Bell and independents Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman.

Golden spot in the middle?

Perry encouraged speculation that he might be a choice for vice president on Sen. John McCain's ticket, but the notion has drawn about as much attention as a 39 percent "landslide" victory for an incumbent deserves.

Hutchison has been mentioned widely as a veep possibility, but at 64 she doesn't help McCain much with the age issue, she doesn't help him with the right side of the party that distrusts him, and he doesn't need her to carry Texas.

White would much rather run against Perry. White is considerably stronger in the business community, which hates the new business "margins tax" Perry pushed.

Time to pick her battles

White would sell himself as a pragmatic and competent problem solver, contrasting his accomplishments in Houston with the internecine squabbling that has marked Austin — squabbling that can be expected to continue if Tom Craddick holds on to his House speaker's chair.

Hutchison has won considerable praise for hard work she did with Democrats and business leaders on the issue of military base closures around the state. She, like White, is seen as a pragmatist and a problem solver.

White supporters say she might have to tarnish that image in a tough primary, something she's not faced in her 15 years in the Senate.

"In a primary against Perry, she would have to run to the right," said one White guy. "That takes her away from her golden spot in the middle."

I'm not convinced she would have to run hard to the right.

Even with many independents voting in the Democratic primary in Texas last month McCain beat conservative Mike Huckabee 51 percent to 38 percent.

Independent consideration

Given how weak the state Democratic Party is, it is unlikely any statewide race in the next Democratic primary would attract independents away from a spirited primary matchup between Perry and Hutchison.

After all, down ballot from the presidential contest this year, the most exciting statewide race in the Democratic primary was for the right to face U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. It pitted Houston State Rep. Rick Noriega against a geriatric hermit whose only political asset is the name Gene Kelly and two lesser-known candidates.

Noriega eked out a victory without a runoff.

What's more, opposition to Perry's unpopular Trans-Texas Corridor, which Hutchison has vigorously opposed, may kill him even among the Republican base.

So the glee that lit up the White camp Thursday is likely to fade, unless Hutchison once again loses her nerve.

You can write to Rick Casey at P.O. Box 4260, Houston, TX 77210, or e-mail him at

© 2008 The Houston Chronicle:

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Could '39%' win in 2010?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry to run for re-election in 2010

April 17, 2008

The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2008

Gov. Rick Perry told The Dallas Morning News on Thursday that he would seek re-election as governor in 2010.

During a break in a Republican Governors Association forum being held in Grapevine, Mr. Perry said that he would like to return for a third full term as governor.

When asked whether the gubernatorial field would include Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and himself, Mr. Perry responded , “I don’t know about them, but it will be Perry in 2010.”

“I don’t know about the other two. You need to ask them.”

Mrs. Hutchison appeared unaffected by the governor’s statement. She has earlier said that her decision to run for governor would not be swayed this time by other candidates in the race.

“I am encouraged by the growing number of Texans asking me to return home to run for governor to provide leadership for our state,” she said in a statement Thursday.

“It is too early to make an announcement about the 2010 race. Right now I remain committed to serving the people of Texas in the United States Senate and helping our Republican candidates win crucial elections this fall.”

Mr. Dewhurst also said he would weigh his options later.

"My focus is on the 2009 legislative session and continuing to build on our successes over the past five years. Whatever I decide to do after that will be based on what's best for Texas," he said.

Since winning re-election with just 39 percent of the vote in a four-way field in 2006, Mr. Perry has held out the possibility of seeking an unprecedented third four-year term. But his statement Thursday is his most definitive yet that he would do so, though much could change in the two-and-a-half years until the next gubernatorial election.

Mr. Perry will soon become the longest-serving governor in Texas history. He took over for George W. Bush when Mr. Bush resigned in late 2000 to become president. The state has no term limits for governor.

Last year, Mr. Perry had expressed doubt as to whether he wanted another term, saying he would look at doing other things.

It has been speculated that Mr. Perry was positioning himself to be a vice presidential candidate, but he said Thursday that he would not accept such an offer from Arizona Sen. John McCain, the party’s all-but-certain nominee.

Longtime Republican consultant Bill Miller said the governor’s remark not only tips his hand, but tips the political balance.

“Most politicians who have been around awhile understand that when you become a lame duck, you really lose leverage and you lose your ability to get some things done, particularly hard things,” Mr. Miller said.

Eight months before a legislative session, it might be wise to strengthen your clout with lawmakers by letting them know you intend to be in the executive office for awhile, Mr. Miller said. “It’s the nature of politics.”

As for Mr. Perry’s election chances, Mr. Miller said he expects the governor will meet formidable competition in the 2010 GOP primary. And being the longest serving governor means you are not just battle-tested, but battle-scarred as well, he said.

“He’s got the most recent election and his polling numbers indicate it will not be an easy task for him to be reelected,” Mr. Miller said.

But it would be foolish to underestimate Rick Perry, he said. “The fact is that he’s never lost a political race and he’s had many, many of them.”

Democratic Party chief Boyd Richie suggested Mr. Perry has a lot to run on, including several school funding crises, the Texas Youth Commission sexual abuse scandal, soaring college tuitions, sprouting toll ways and more than 1 million children lacking health insurance.

“That's the record of Rick Perry and the Republican politicians who masquerade as our leaders while serving the interests of special interest contributors and cronies. Texas Democrats look forward to 2010,” Mr. Richie said.

Mr. Perry also said Thursday that he thought Tom Craddick would win re-election as House speaker. Mr. Craddick, embattled over his leadership style and his declaration that he had absolute authority in running the House last year, is expected to face several challengers for the job, even if Republicans maintain their thin majority in the House.

© 2008 The Dallas Morning News:

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TxDOT--the very same agency created by the will of farmers and agriculturalists--is now saying 'This [TTC] matters more than you or your industry.'

Taking A Stand For Their Land: Landowners rally at Capitol against Trans-Texas Corridor

April 17, 2008

Country World News
Copyright 2008

On April 5, protesters marched on foot, rode on horseback and drove their tractors down the streets of Austin, then rallied at the Capitol steps where several speakers voiced their opposition to the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC).

As proposed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2002, the TTC would be a multi-use, statewide network of transportation routes with separate lanes for cars and commercial trucks, high-speed rail lines and utility corridors. According to the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) website, TxDOT would oversee planning, construction and ongoing maintenance and private vendors would be responsible for much of the daily operations.

The march and rally was organized by Hank Gilbert, a cattle rancher from Whitehouse, for the TURF (Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom) organization.

Gilbert, along with Terri Hall of San Antonio, formed TURF - a statewide grassroots anti-toll, anti-TTC organization - in December of 2006. Gilbert said people in the organization are not only from Texas, but from all over the country.

According to their website, one of TURF’s missions is to educate the public about the TTC, the first of the planned NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) superhighways connected to the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and coming merger with Mexico and Canada through the North American Union (NAU).

Through TURF, Gilbert and Hall are “educating more and more people as to what is going on.”

“In a very short time span of a couple of years,” Gilbert said, “Our little organization, that started with two ticked off people - one cattle rancher and one homeschool mother- has made great strides in trying to bring accountability into the process of TxDOT, as well as trying to stop the taking of public land for private use in the toll roads and this Trans-Texas Corridor project.”

The march was the second annual march down Congress Avenue protesting the TTC and the tolls across Texas. Gilbert vows to hold the march every year “until we get rid of this thing.”

Before the march, several people stated their concerns over the TTC project.

Jennifer Duhan, who lead the march of protesters on her horse, Waco, is a landowner from Waller and feels the TTC is flawed.

“I’m not against new roads. I’m not against progress. But this concept is not the right concept for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s border security issues, whether it’s the green issues, whether it’s toll lane or public/private partnerships — the whole thing is flawed. It’s not an interstate.”

Billy Hintzel of Navasota also stressed that the TTC is not an interstate and said it will not help the counties.

“It’s going to actually hurt the counties because it is taking land away from our tax base.”

The TTC will also split Grimes County in two, he said.

Bastrop County farmer, Jim Lee, said the TTC will go right through his 225 acre farm which has been in the family for generations.

“My great-grandfather settled in the area in the 1840s. Perry’s toll roads will take the equivalent of our farm every mile and a half. We are very much against this Trans-Texas Corridor,” said Lee.

Under its proposed, or recommended, route, the TTC is going to consume over 100,000 acres of prime farmland, said Gilbert.

“This is where we predominately grow a lot of our grains in the state - corn and milo. Where we grow a lot of cotton. And in some areas it’s good grassland.

“Taking that land out of production is going to relate to millions of dollars of lost revenue in the agricultural industry. It’s going to relate to millions of dollars of lost revenue in our state’s economy. It’s going to relate to thousands of agricultural jobs lost in our state,” said Gilbert.

According to Gilbert, not only is the TTC a big issue for Texans, “it’s going on all over the country and people don’t know what to do about it or how to stop it.”

Due to the state’s proximity to the Mexican border, the TTC “lives or dies here in Texas,” he said.

“China is going to bring all these goods into Mexican ports and then bring them across our borders through the NAFTA agreement, which means that they won’t have to pay tariffs and they won’t have to pay import fees on those products.”

Gilbert said through the TTC and NAFTA superhighways, China is going to try to transport these goods through Texas to points beyond in the United States.

“Texas landowners are being told that their rural agricultural land is where these roads need to go.”

The roads for the TTC, he said, will be very limited access.

“The only places they have to offer access is at the State U.S. and Interstate Highways. So if you live in a small community that doesn’t have one of those highways, guess what, you are not going to have an exit to get on or off of it and you may have to drive for miles before you can find a place to cross it.”

The TTC will also be a toll road, an issue which Gilbert and the TURF organization strongly oppose.

“A toll is the most unfair tax you can impose and its the highest tax you can impose. If you are going to toll a road and you are still charging a gas tax, then basically the traveling public are being double-taxed for that road.”

A gas tax, he said, is the fairest form of tax because everybody pays it.

“Even if you don’t live in Texas - if you are traveling through Texas and you buy gas - you are supporting the infrastructure of the state. So it’s a fair tax.”

The toll roads are being built primarily for freight traffic, he said.

“They are expecting the freight containers coming in and through Texas by 2012 to double what they are now so they need these freight corridors. The amount of air and noise pollution that it is going to bring to these areas will be astounding. Texas will be ranked right up there with California as some of the dirtiest places in the United States.”

The biggest injustice of all, he said, is what the TTC is going to do to the people in the rural parts of Texas who worked hard all their life. They and their ancestors, “worked their butts off all their life to acquire this property and to make or supplement their living from this property.”

By taking their land, TxDOT is basically telling them “their property is inconsequential.” Gilbert said looking back at history, TxDOT was founded from farmers.

“They appealed to the state government to build them some hard surface roads where they could get their product from the farm to the market. Hence our farm-to-market roads, which were the first paved roads we had in the state.”

Those farmers “willingly gave up their land in order to develop that transportation system, and in essence, to develop that agency,” he said.

“Now that very same agency that was created by the will of the farmers of this state and the agriculturalists of this state are now looking at those very same people and saying, ‘you don’t matter anymore. Your industry doesn’t matter anymore. This matters more than you do.’

“That’s not the Texas I grew up in and that’s not the Texas that most rural Texans grew up in. We are not going to allow it to happen.”

For more information about TURF, visit or contact Hank Gilbert at (903)871-2424.

© 2008 County World news:

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley: "There isn't any chance in heck that we're going to let this road not be built as a toll road."

Regional Transportation Council backs tollway authority's plan for Highway 161

April 16, 2008

The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2008

The Regional Transportation Council on Tuesday endorsed a plan by the North Texas Tollway Authority that should keep the State Highway 161 toll road project moving forward.

By a vote of 16-13 and after a long and often confusing debate, the council recommended that the Texas Department of Transportation accept a $1.2 billion price tag for the toll road contract put forward by the NTTA last week. The move keeps NTTA on schedule to develop the road and could bring the region as much as $298 million in upfront payments for use on other roads.

The agreement that won the RTC's backing Tuesday also satisfies an April 16 deadline imposed by the state last month and will allow construction crews already hired to begin work by Thursday.

"I think everyone is just tired of messing with this road and wants it to just get built," said Bob Brown, TxDOT's deputy engineer for the Dallas district.

The State Highway 161 project is an approximately 10-mile road in Dallas County that has long been promised to Grand Prairie as a key reliever route for State Highway 360 traffic.

NTTA's proposal, however, does not obligate the authority to build the road. It merely helps clear a key legal hurdle and allows NTTA and TxDOT to agree on how much the toll contract should be worth.

State law stipulates that if NTTA and TxDOT can't agree on a contract's value, then the road can't be built as a toll road, giving NTTA a powerful bargaining tool. NTTA now has six months to decide whether it wants to do the project.

NTTA executive director Jorge Figueredo said Tuesday that the NTTA probably would make its decision by June.

The RTC's vote was not binding on anyone, but in recent years TxDOT's leadership has increasingly deferred to the wishes of regional policy councils. The Texas Transportation Commission voted 4-1, for instance, to accept the RTC's recommendation that the State Highway 121 contract be taken away from Spanish builder Cintra and given instead to NTTA, despite the commission's clear preference for the private firm.

But on Tuesday, Jose Lopez, president of the North American division of Cintra, said TxDOT would be hard-pressed to accept NTTA as the builder for Highway 161. He said its offer is substantially lower than what a private firm would have paid to build the road.

"At least one market player – us – would be willing to pay $1.7 billion for the same terms as proposed by NTTA," said Mr. Lopez, who attended Tuesday's meeting. "That's a huge discrepancy. Can TxDOT really follow that [RTC] recommendation?"

State law, however, may give TxDOT little choice. For starters, a contract with a private firm would be capped at 52 years, whereas NTTA's proposal would let it keep the road forever.

Beyond that, a decision by TxDOT to reject NTTA's offer could mean that the road would not be built as a toll road at all, given toll road restrictions passed last year by the Legislature. Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said that was unacceptable.

"There isn't any chance in heck that we're going to let this road not be built as a toll road," said Mr. Whitley, who was among about a dozen council members who favored an alternative proposal put forward by RTC staff that would have left some room for negotiation over terms of the proposal.

Council members rejected the staff alternative, however, after NTTA chairman Paul Wageman said his board would not negotiate any of the key terms stipulated in its offer setting the value of the toll road at $1.2 billion.

"This is our last and final offer," he said.

© 2008 The Dallas Morning News:

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"I think taxpayers would not say it's a good use of our public dollars. Some would even be outraged."

Tax Money Pays For Travel On Pricey Planes

April 16, 2008

KPRC Channel 2 (Houston, TX)
Copyright 2008

HOUSTON -- Note: The following story is a verbatim transcript of a Local 2 Investigates story that aired on Tuesday, April 15, 2008, on KPRC Local 2 at 10 p.m.

Tonight, Local 2 Investigates private planes paid for by your money. When public officials travel on small planes owned by the state, you're paying the expensive bills.

We discovered the total price tag for the program in just two years is more than $6 million. But is it necessary?

Local 2 investigative reporter Robert Arnold shows you which state officials are taking the flights and why you're getting stuck with the bill.

Say you're heading to Austin for business or fun, would you pay $1,173 to fly roundtrip from Houston to get there?

Get out your wallets. That's what you paid to fly a state official in a small private plane from Austin to Houston. Your tax money funds a fleet of small planes run by the Texas Department of Transportation in Austin.

Local 2 Investigates tracked two years worth of the taxpayer-funded flights (fiscal years 2006 and 2007) to see who is taking the flights and why. We wanted to know why taxpayers are paying so much when other travel options can often cost so much less.

We found the state's most frequent flier in those two years was former state Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley.

Neeley traveled for speeches and meetings, racking up 62 flights in two years with a total price tag of $97,645.

"She did fly a lot and used the state aircraft pooling board a lot," said Debbie Ratcliffe, a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency. "She thought it was an excellent service."

You paid for that service.

Neeley made dozens of speeches to small school districts. Often a private plane was the only time-effective way to get there.

However, Local 2 Investigates found roughly half of Neeley's expensive flights were from Austin to bigger cities where she could have taken cheaper commercial flights.

Neeley made nine trips from Austin to Houston, primarily traveling with her assistant. Those nine roundtrip flights cost taxpayers $10,337.

That's around $1,100 for each trip. We found commercial flights for less than half that amount, even when we booked flights for the next day.

Just one of Neeley's flights from Austin to Dallas cost $1,413. It cost $2,084 to fly from Austin to Midland, $2,635 to Amarillo and $3,282 for a flight to El Paso.

"There would be other times when she had a tight schedule and it made for efficient use of her time to take a state plane even into larger cities because she could go and come back and get other work done," said Ratcliffe.

"I think taxpayers would not say it's a good use of our public dollars," said Peggy Venable with Americans for Prosperity, a conservative taxpayer watchdog group in Austin. "Some would even be outraged."

Venable said many successful large businesses would not even use private jets for all those big city flights.

"One reason I think people are cynical about how government spends our money is because it's easier to spend someone else's money," Venable said. "That's just what they're doing."

Local 2 Investigates discovered taxpayers are paying for more than just pricey flights for state officials.

Records show University of Texas football and basketball coaches took 43 flights over two years. The total price tag was around $115,000. We discovered UT athletics paid its own way without spending taxpayer or university dollars.

However, you likely still footed some of the bill and it's not UT's fault. A state audit in 2006 found the state planes were losing big money. The audit reported the total annual loss at $972,441 for fiscal year 2006.

That means taxpayers ended up subsidizing every flight, including all those UT athletic flights.

"I think as taxpayers more scrutinize how those tax dollars are spent, they're going to be asking a lot more questions of public officials," said Venable.

The Texas Department of Transportation said now its fleet of planes no longer operates at a loss.

"We're looking to make sure we do it safer, more efficiently more cost effectively than anyone else," said Randall Dillard, a Texas Department of Transportation spokesman.

TxDOT increased the prices it charges state officials for flights and it sold off some planes to balance the books. This year's budget for the state planes is $4.2 million. Still, TXDOT has no say whether a state official's trip is a win or loss for taxpayers.

"(State agencies) have to make the decision if it's cost effective for that particular trip," said Dillard. "They're the ones who will have to pay the bill and justify that."

"We'd like to see the governor go back to zero-based budgeting and see programs like this have to justify themselves," said Venable. "I don't think (TxDOT flight services) would make that cut."

Several audits and studies over the past decade have recommended to end the state plane travel program. Each said it would be cheaper for state officials to fly commercial or even pay to charter private aircraft.

Gov. Rick Perry once called for the same change but now says the program is working fine under TxDOT.

Shirley Neeley resigned from the Texas Education Agency in July 2007.

More information: 2006 State Audit

If you have a news tip or question for KPRC Local 2 Investigates, drop them an e-mail or call their tipline at (713) 223-TIPS (8477).

Copyright 2008 by

© 2008 KPRC-TV,:

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"U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters’ push for more PPPs and tolling is disheartening."

Senate subcommittee downplays public-private partnerships


By David Tanner
Land Line Magazine
Copyright 2008

A Senate subcommittee on transportation discussed the need for an increased federal investment in infrastructure during a hearing Wednesday, April 16, downplaying the current administration’s call for more public-private partnerships and tolling.

One panelist who testified before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure said U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters’ push for more PPPs and tolling is disheartening.

“Those comments have been suggesting that this is a choice between public-private partnerships and the status quo and that there’s somehow not anything in between,” testified Edward Wytkind, president of transportation trades development for the AFL-CIO.

“The truth is that the private sector has always had a significant role in our transportation industry in this country.”

Wytkind said the Indiana Toll Road and Chicago Skyway are examples of PPPs that involved toll roads auctioned off to the highest bidder without the public interests in mind.

“We haven’t taken a formal position against all of them,” he said. “We have said, though, that there’s a lot of very, very complicated public-policy questions about what you do with people’s assets before you let private interests come in, write the check, and take something over for 99 years and then extract all the profit revenues out of it with very little accountability.”

“It’s not about whether the private sector belongs in the debate. It’s whether we should be shoving this large public asset out there and giving it over to the private sector, and I think that should give us some pause.”

The subcommittee is chaired by Sen. Max Baucus, D-MT. Sen. Larry Craig, R-ID, a member of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, asked several questions of the panelists.

While addressing questions from Craig, ATA Board of Directors Chairman Ray Kuntz said a side-effect of toll roads is that truckers are being forced to use less-safe toll-free roads.

Craig replied to the obvious.

“If you have toll roads and non-toll roads in this instance, I would guess you would gravitate towards the non-toll roads,” Craig said.

Chairman Baucus promised more hearings on the subject of transportation funding, calling Wednesday’s hearing the first in a series.

Also providing testimony to the subcommittee on Wednesday were Siva Yam, president of the U.S. America-China Chamber of Commerce and John Isbell, global logistics director for Nike apparel. For more information on the hearing, click here.

– By David Tanner, staff writer

© 2008 OOIDA:

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"Senator McCain’s proposal will even further negatively impact the Highway Trust Fund, causing it to become insolvent even faster."

News Release

Senator McCain’s Gas Tax Holiday Would Hurt The Economy -- Don’t Cut Transportation Funds

April 16, 2008

Virginia Miller
American Public Transportation Association
Copyright 2008

(Download In Adobe PDF format)

Now is the time for leadership on transportation issues, not pandering to voters with an alleged “quick fix” to the economy through the suspension of federal gas taxes through the summer months.

With gas prices at an all time high, it is an easy thing to suggest the removal of the gas tax.

However, stating that the suspension of gas taxes from Memorial Day to Labor Day ostensibly to help our economy hides the real truth -- that America’s transportation is intertwined with our high standard of living and prosperity. To cut back transportation infrastructure investment endangers, not boosts, our economy, our jobs and our way of life.

The truth is that gas prices are high because the cost of oil is high; they’re not high because of the federal gas tax. The truth is that we need the federal gas tax to pay for the much needed highway and public transportation infrastructure. Do we really want our bridges to fall down? No. Do we want to see bus routes and train lines cut? No. Americans are used to their independence and want their transportation systems to not only be maintained, but improved and expanded.

While we need new ideas for economic growth and prosperity, the three-month gas tax elimination proposal is simply a shortsighted band-aid that would have little impact on the average American, who, according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), would only save $28, an amount that doesn’t even begin to cover one gas fill-up for many Americans.

With the summer construction season nearly upon us, now is certainly not the time to suspend the federal funding that pays for the construction and maintenance of our country’s highways and public transportation. To suspend the federal gas tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day would result in only making our economic situation worse, causing more Americans to lose their jobs.

Additionally, this proposal by Senator McCain also runs counter to the public demand for more public transportation. Last year 10.3 billion trips were taken on public transportation – the largest ridership number in fifty years.

At a time when more and more Americans are using public transportation to beat the high cost of gas, the federal government needs to increase its investment in public transportation. If instead, the gas tax was suspended for the summer, it would eliminate $1.4 billion of federal funding for public transportation and severely restrict the industry’s ability to add and improve transit services for a growing number of Americans.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that the Highway Trust Fund, which finances the highway and public transit infrastructure, could become insolvent as early as next year. Senator McCain’s proposal will even further negatively impact the Highway Trust Fund, causing it to become insolvent even faster.

The federal gas tax has not been raised since October 1, 1993 but the demands on our roads and public transportation systems have continued to grow. Maintaining and expanding our transportation systems that meet the needs of our growing population is essential. The presidential candidates should be voicing their solutions for meeting the transportation needs of the future and dismissing any proposals, such as the “gas tax holiday” proposed by Senator McCain, that might be popular in the short-term but disruptive in the long term.

Virginia Miller
(202) 496-4816

© 2008 American Public Transportation Association:

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A hose by any other name: 'NAU' and 'SPP' promoters contemplate 'rebranding' to clean up tarnished image

Makeover urged for 'North American Union' effort

Heavy criticism of continental integration prompts plan to save flagging movement

Poster urging protest of North American Security and Prosperity Partnership
April 15, 2008

By Jerome R. Corsi
Copyright 2008

On the verge of next week's North American summit in New Orleans, a Canadian think tank has suggested renaming the "North American Union" to renew progress toward continental integration in the face of mounting criticism.

A paper entitled "Saving the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership", published last month by the Fraser Institute in Canada, contends President Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper have decided to expend no more political capital in pursuing "the bust" that has occurred because of the "brand" of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America or SPP.

The solution, the authors argue, is a public relations makeover in which the goals of North American political and economic integration remain the same but the names get changed to keep trilateral arrangements between the U.S., Mexico and Canada on track.

While the paper continues to dismiss critics of the SPP as "conspiracy theorists," Fraser Institute political scientist Dr. Alexander Moens and his co-author Michael Cust, a Fraser Institute intern, proposes the name "North American Union," or NAU, be dropped in favor of a declaration that the three countries now want to create a "North American Standards and Regulatory Area," or NASRA.

Moens and Cust write that the attacks of SPP critics "are starting to hurt."

"In the wake of the Montebello Summit (in Quebec last summer), one Canadian commentator declared the SPP 'dead' and 'defunct,'" Moens and Cust noted. "Another stated recently that the SPP has 'collapsed under a heap of conspiratorial rubbish."

But the authors argue the SPP is "far from dead."

Acknowledging the SPP has a "low profile" currently, the Frasier Institute authors stress that trilateral talks in the bureaucratic working groups constituted under SPP by the three governments are continuing on both security and competitiveness policy issues.

"Its critics may have tarnished the 'SPP brand,'" Moens and Cust concede, "but the precise areas of its work – to follow where NAFTA left off and to do so by incorporating post-9/11 security criteria as well as public safety and quality of life issues (pandemic illnesses and food safety) – are key Canadian interests."

The Fraser Institute paper also encourages the SPP working groups to develop "a better communications strategy," so that the public "can begin to understand its benefits."

The authors, however, are opposed to expanding the list of SPP advisers to include public interest groups or the media, preferring to stay with the closed-door advice offered by the 30 corporations picked by the chambers of commerce in the three countries to serve as members of the North American Competitiveness Council, or NACC.

They also concede that Mexico has been a "drag" on border security talks, especially since illegal immigration into the U.S. has continued, if not accelerated, under the SPP. They admit "there is an enormous problem of illegal entry, drug smuggling, and violent incidents on the Mexican border," while continuing to argue "there is also a very large legal and orderly flow of goods between Mexico and the United States."

In 1999, economist Herbert G. Grubel of the Fraser institute wrote a paper entitled, "The Case for the Amero," presenting the first arguments in print that a North American currency should be created on the model of the euro in the European Union as a replacement for the U.S. dollar, the Canadian dollar and the Mexican peso.

WND reported the third SPP summit, held last August in Montebello, Quebec, involved a series of closed-door meetings attended only by the three state heads, the cabinet members in attendance, the SPP trilateral bureaucrats assigned to head the 20 working groups established under the SPP and the NACC business leaders.

Next Monday and Tuesday, President Bush will meet in New Orleans with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Harper.

The White House has changed the name of the meeting from the "Fourth SPP Annual Summit" to simply the "North American Leaders' Summit."

WND has applied to the White House for press credential to attend next week's New Orleans meeting.

© 2008 WorldNetDaily:

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"You're not invited to the decision making process. Those making the decisions know they're not accountable to you."

Why are we still paying for the Dallas North Tollway?

April 15, 2008

Copyright 2008

DALLAS - Believe it or not, the Dallas North Tollway was supposed to be free by now. That obviously didn't happen, and it never will.

With a drastic funding shortfall for new roads in North Texas, local leaders rely on toll roads to keep paying for what the state cannot afford.

Take State Highway 121 across Collin County. The North Texas Tollway Authority recently won the right to build what will be a concrete cash cow.

"It's the lure of money," said David Stall, a transportation watchdog with "It's the lure of big money."

In less than ten years, SH 121 is expected to bring in $223 million a year in tolls. One can also add $202 million for the Dallas North Tollway and $179 million on the Bush Turnpike.

"It's important for the NTTA to be able to continue to provide transportation choices for drivers and alternative funding sources for the region," said Sherita Coffelt, a NTTA spokesperson, on why all that money is needed.

On SH 121, the NTTA has the authority to collect tolls for 52 years. In exchange, the NTTA wrote the region a check for $3.2 billion. The money will fund construction of non-tolled road projects the region needs but that the state of Texas cannot afford.

"There is very little pressure to turn that money back, or lower the tolls or turn that road into a free road," Stall said. "There's a tremendous pressure to find more things to spend the money and grow your organization and your empire."

Originally, the idea behind toll roads in North Texas wasn't to generate revenue, but instead to build roads, pay them off and then eventually make them free.

In fact, the Dallas-Forth Worth Turnpike is a good example of just that. In 1977 it was paid off, became a free road and was renamed to Interstate 30.

At the time, there were proposals to keep the tolls on and use them to pay for more roads.

Opponents lined up, including the city of Fort Worth, which complained about the "unlawful, illegal, immoral and fattening activities" of the toll authority. The opponents won and toll booths came off.

The Dallas North Tollway was built with the same promise, when it was "paid off" it would be "free" too. That never happened.

"Well, because the Dallas North Tollway was never paid off," Coffelt said of why the Dallas North Tollway never became free. "Before it was paid off, the decision was made to extend it."

To pay the bill, the NTTA used the revenue from the existing portion as collateral for the new loans. Since then, every time the NTTA builds a new road it uses existing toll revenue as collateral.

"Well, with the tremendous amount of money that comes in on a regular basis, you institutionalize it," Stall said. "You build an organization and a structure that is dependent on that revenue and constantly looking for new projects and new ways to spend that."

The NTTA has grown into an agency with more than 700 employees and a payroll of almost $27 million. And while the NTTA said it's an accountable and transparent organization, critics point out its board members are appointed, not elected by voters.

"You're not invited to the decision making process," Stall said. "Those making the decisions know they're not accountable to you."

The NTTA is currently negotiating to build another new toll road that would lead to the new Texas Stadium - State Highway 161.

Transportation sources said during those negotiations, the NTTA asked for permanent tolling authority and has also asked to rewrite its 52-year deal for SH 121. It now wants permanent tolls there, too.

"As you know, there's a huge need in North Texas for additional transportation choices and additional funding sources," Coffelt said when asked if toll roads will ever be free. "And as long as that need exists, the NTTA will too."


© 2008 WFAA-TV, Inc.:

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