Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"There is a viable non-tolled option."


Reasons non-toll option is best bet for MPO


By Tommy Adkisson - Guest Commentary
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2009

Here are just some of the reasons why I believe the non-tolled option in our Metropolitan Planning Organization short- and long-range plans is so important:

  • The only way to have a non-tolled option considered is to have our plan reflect that.
  • Seemingly endless court battles over economic and environmental issues that must be addressed under the National Environmental Policy Act.
  • There is a viable non-tolled option. Using the 2005 Zachary proposal and actual cost of the three-mile plan used by Clay Smith on Oct. 9 at the TAC meeting yields a $26 million per mile cost and, when multiplied by this project's length of 7.8 miles, equals a total project cost of $202.8 million.
  • In contrast, the Regional Mobility Authority has yet to justify its much larger projected cost of $475 million, $70 million of which accrues to acquisition of right of way. Because the RMA is taking over a portion of the state highway system, it is obligated to pay the right of way costs. By contrast, the MPO does not have to pay right-of-way costs for a non-tolled scenario because TxDOT has its own separate fund for right of way.
  • On Oct. 19, the RMA testified that they plan to enter into risky multi-leveraged debt financing of the Texas Mobility Fund money in order to finance the toll road. This is the sort of multi-leveraging (second, third and fourth mortgages) that created the financial crisis we have experienced of late nationally.
  • Just for the total interest on the $330 million in toll revenue bonds alone, the RMA said it needs $864 million over 40 years!
  • The minimum toll project cost is $1.3 billion.
  • The U.S. 281 market valuation says the toll plan requires 200,000 cars per day in the out years in contrast with an existing 86,000 cars per day, on average. As if these assumptions requisite for this toll plan's solvency were not risky enough, the requisite level of traffic guarantees ongoing legal battles over environmental impacts to our aquifer.

I am asking for your support for the non-tolled option. I look forward to working with you to move our community forward.

Tommy Adkisson, Bexar County Commissioner for Precinct 4, can be reached at 100 Dolores, suite 1.2, San Antonio 78205, by e-mail at or by calling 335-2614.

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