Sunday, September 18, 2005

"It seems it was a done deal before most of us even heard about it, and it will not pass the smell test."

Letters to The Editor — Focus: Toll roads


San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2005

Consider alternatives

There continues to be opposition to the North Side toll road plans — for good reason.

No one wants a toll road and fees in a town that's never had a toll road. Gas costs have risen to about $3 a gallon and will be higher by the time a toll road is completed. Estimated tolls will rise based on state government analysis of funds available for highway expenses.

I have some alternatives to suggest.

Complete the east-west expressway that has been partially built for a major shift in traffic from Loops 1604 and 410.

Use the $450 million the government would have spent on a toll road to build north-south highways into emerging neighborhoods in the Hill Country and other needy parts of San Antonio.

The independent contractors (labor, materials and equipment) will soon be needed to rebuild highways in Southeast Louisiana rather than build us a toll road over the next 10 years.

— Don Leach

Gas tax is sufficient

I can't believe the politicos are crying again about the lack of tax money to fund roads ("To pay for roads, official foresees higher gas tax," Sept. 9). If most people realized 25 percent of their gas taxes go to — wait — fund schools and not the roads, they would shout about these idiots trying to raise more taxes for never-ending road projects.

Tolls? Increased sales taxes? Do these people live in the real world? Every politician is trying to suck the marrow out of the bones of the taxpayer, as if they are the only taxing authority. When will this end?

It is time for the people to stand up and say "no" to more taxes. Live within your budget, just like the rest of us. Fund schools in a straightforward manner, and the existing gas tax will provide enough money for ill-conceived projects that go on for generations.

— Mike Champion

Where do funds go?

Folks at the recent San Antonio Regional Transportation Leadership Forum expressed concerns about Texas not having enough money for its roads, both new and old.

People should ask, "What is the Texas Department of Transportation doing with all the money?" We should demand an accounting of the funds. Texas has more than $5 billion for transportation, yet Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson has said we need more funds and are so short that we will have to toll new roads.

Before we let these officials continue, we need to demand proof of what they say. Williamson claims we would have to raise our state gas tax by 50 cents per gallon to pay for roads if tolls aren't used. Why are state and local officials not demanding these statements be proven before projects are awarded? Why is San Antonio getting only $100 million out of the $5 billion? Why isn't the Express-News doing its own investigation into this?

If you want answers like I do, please write to your state senators and representatives, as well as the Bexar County commissioners. These elected officials all work for us.

— Bob McKechnie

Enriching very few

Columnist David Hendricks takes the position that a bigger San Antonio would necessarily be better ("Growth makes convincing case for toll roads," Business, Sept. 10).

If toll roads are built, it will result in current residents subsidizing newcomers. Why should a person who works in San Antonio want to live halfway to Junction, anyway?

There are many alternatives to toll roads. If people live near their work, public transportation, motor scooters, bicycles and even walking can get them to work. Development of some kind of rapid transit system should be encouraged, and so should telecommuting.

Building toll roads would result in more people buying and building further and further from San Antonio. It would discourage construction of more livable multi-unit housing near the heart of town. It would discourage development of a viable rapid transit system and prevent many people and businesses from fully exploring the possibilities of telecommuting.

To most of us, toll roads look like a way to make the chosen few very rich at the expense of the rest of us. It seems it was a done deal before most of us even heard about it, and it will not pass the smell test.

— Hugh Caddess

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