It’s sad really. On March 1st Sen. John Carona (R – Dallas) held a hearing on transportation in Texas. He found out that day that he had the will of a vast majority of Texans behind him and, soon after that, a veto proof majority in both chambers to enact a two year moratorium on CDA’s, aka toll roads for corporate profit, in Texas. The moratorium would allow time for the people of Texas and lawmakers to come up with a reasoned, fair, and equitable plan to pay for and build improvements to our transportation infrastructure in Texas.
Since then he decided to compromise, when there was no need to – in much less than two years time – and came up with a watered down approach to fixing the problems created over the last two sessions. From today’s SAEN article on SB 1929 passing out of committee, Senate panel backs changes in toll road rules.
A Senate transportation committee voted Thursday for sweeping legislation that addresses many of the concerns pushing a moratorium on privately built toll roads.But Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, who is a former Texas Department of Transportation commissioner and architect of the proposed two-year moratorium, opposed Senate Bill 1929. He declined to explain his opposition.
“My suspicion is that he believes the best approach is to study the issue for the next two years and then develop a comprehensive plan. What we need is less study and more action right now, otherwise we continue to go further in the hole,” said Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Chair John Carona, R-Dallas, who is author of Senate Bill 1929.
As you can see Sen. Nichols is now the leader on this issue and Sen. Carona is just along for the ride. When he says “action now” it’s like he’s saying we need to do something, no matter how bad it is in the long run. More here:
His plan would shorten the contracts for private company toll roads to 40 years instead of 50-70 years as currently structured. The measure also would allow the state to buy back toll roads for a price determined by a company’s return on investment instead of future revenue considerations that would be more costly. And the bill also eliminates non-compete provisions.
“The state can build a roadway anywhere it chooses where a public-private (toll) highway might be located,” Carona said. “But if we do so within a 4-mile range of the (toll) roadway, then we have to take into consideration economics and could owe some amount of money back to the private partner.”
His bill also addresses some objections to the Trans Texas Corridor by requiring public disclosure and local participation in planning.
What Sen. Carona seems to have forgotten, and the rest of these pro-corporate tollers don’t seem to understand, is that these are bad deals, period. It doesn’t matter if they’re for 10 years, 20 years, 40 years, of 50 years. Adding state buy backs for profit, and if the state has to reimburse a corporation when it wants to build a new road that too close to the corporate toll way, are still unacceptable. And tweaking the TTC ain’t gonna make those rural folks happy.
Yes, Sen. Carona we need a two year moratorium on these horrible deals in order to make sure we get this issue right. What is eventually decided on this issue Texans will have to live with, and pay for, for generations. The people of Texas deserve these two years and during those two years, hopefully, a reasoned discussion on Texas’ transportation future will follow. Sen. Carona your original approach was much better, and, no matter how hard you try, you can’t put lipstick on this pig.