Thursday, September 23, 2010

"The whole reason for this exercise is the absolute FAILURE of SH 130 toll road to provide congestion relief on I-35."



To find out where the I-35 workshop is in your area. Go here.

Tolling EXISTING LANES on I-35 is just ONE of the many toll proposals by the I-35 Corridor Segment 3 Committee...get your comments ON THE RECORD!


Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom
Copyright 2010

Four toll proposals...

  1. Add toll lanes to I-35 called “I-35 HOV / Toll Lanes from SH 45 SE to I-10”
  2. Toll US 290 from Austin to the SH 130 toll road (FYI, the only free lanes will be access roads, not expressway lanes. TxDOT info very misleading on this project!)
  3. Convert existing lanes of I-35 to toll lanes and expand routes (SH 21, SH 71, SH 80, SH 290) that could feed more traffic to the SH 130 toll road a higher priority than non-toll improvements to our public freeways. Did you know that TxDOT signed a contract that gives it a higher share of toll road profits if it feeds more toll payers to Cintra’s SH 130 toll road? That’s why its pushing these connectors routes to be expanded instead of just expanding I-35 and keeping it a FREEway.
  4. The other, called “I-35/SH 45 SE/SH 130 Improvements” is to remove the interstate designation of I-35 and re-designate it “Business Route I-35” making the SH 130 and 45 SE toll roads the de facto interstate that runs throughout our state...problem #1 - it’s approx. 30 miles to the east of existing I-35 and significantly out of the way and is currently so underutilized it serves next to no practical purpose for those traveling to major urban areas like Austin. In part, they’re throwing this one in there in order to have people “reject it” and push other proposals that feed traffic to Cintra’s SH 130 toll road.

What’s the best solution?

Expand I-35 and keep it a FREEway. Support the project proposal called “I-35 improvements from SH 195 to I-10” and “I-35 improvements from SH 195 to Williamson/Bell County Line.” Say ‘YES’ to all non-toll FREEway improvements in the master plan.

What makes no sense...unless you’re the Spanish Company Cintra?

The proposal called “I-10 Improvements” that would expand I-10 from San Antonio to the Cintra-owned SH 130 toll road in Seguin. There is no significant traffic or congestion problems along this portion of the interstate, so why should taxpayers pay to expand a route that primarily benefits a private toll operator instead of fixing the heavily congested I-35? Say ‘no’ to the I-10 improvements proposal.

Also, the New Braunfels and San Marcos Outer Loop projects make no sense, unless you’re a developer. These projects constitute eminent domain abuse and will pave over private property to primarily benefit DEVELOPERS, not for a legitimate public use. There is NO congestion problem in these areas. These are greenfield projects that heist private property to essentially benefit another private entity.

Lastly, most rail projects are taxpayer-funded boondoggles. The cost to build and maintain these systems far exceeds the cost of expanding highways.

The SNEAKY reason for tinkering with FREE routes...

...contract signed with Spanish Company

The non-compete agreement in place for the SH 130 segments 5 & 6 toll road prohibits FREE road expansion surrounding that toll road...this is a fraud upon the public and puts private interests over the public interest of a public road system freely accessible to ALL Texans, not just those who can afford toll taxes (especially when those tolls taxes go to a private, foreign company).

TxDOT claims it's responding to the public backlash to the Trans Texas Corridor plans for TTC-35, by soliciting public input on what to do on I-35 now that they've pulled the plug on TTC-35. However, if you look at TxDOT's 100 Most Congested Roads list, it labels improvements to I-35 as tolled.

Cintra-Zachry won the only Trans Texas Corridor TTC-35 segments that will be built (called SH 130 segments 5 & 6). The State signed a contract in 2007 that granted Cintra-Zachry a non-compete agreement (prohibiting the State from building FREE roads/lanes within a certain mile radius of the toll road). So the toll option remains a part of the plans for I-35 despite the opposition to tolling by citizens on the committee.

Why? So the State won't violate Cintra's non-compete agreement by building FREE lanes on I-35 that would draw traffic away from Cintra's SH 130 toll road where they're GUARANTEED profits!

Moving the alignment of I-35 and tinkering around with its interstate status is NUTS! TxDOt needs to leave I-35 an interstate, expand the lanes without tolls, make SH 130 a free road (so trucks not destinating in Austin can take it), and expand our other public roads WITHOUT tolls! Tolls are the MOST EXPENSIVE way to fund roads and are far less efficient than gas tax-funded roads.

The whole reason for this exercise is the absolute FAILURE of SH 130 to provide congestion relief on I-35. Why would anyone want to go 35 miles out of their way to take a toll road that doesn't end up saving you any time because the distance is too far flung from Austin and other destinations? Obviously, the answer is very few since so few take SH 130. Tolling ANY existing lanes is DOUBLE TAXATION which Texans oppose. Making SH 130 a FREE route would incentivize trucks needing to bypass Austin to use it (which in turn would relieve congestion from I-35). However, merely reducing toll taxes won't do the trick. It needs to become a free road in order for people to go out of their way to use that bypass route.

No toll should be on 45 SE given the fact it was 100% built and paid for with gas taxes! So, yes, take the tolls off that FREEway. Removing tolls on 45 SE should NOT be tied to tolling existing lanes on I-35, which is also built and paid for. Expand ALL these suggested "alternate" routes and make them freely accessible to ALL Texans, without tolls.

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