The AAS today with this editorial, No exit from toll roads, is giving in to toll roads. It’s a sad stance that the paper is taking. After a long explanation why it come down to this.
We have supported an increase in gasoline taxes, but there’s no reason even now to think that will happen, and there is no road fairy to step in. Central Texas is growing, shows no signs of stopping and already lacks sufficient highway capacity.
The choice remains simple: Use tolls to finance highway expansion and reconstruction that was needed yesterday built within a decade or so, or don’t and watch traffic get ever worse.
Actually, it’s not much choice at all
Choice? In this scenario there is not a choice. I believe there is a choice and it’s not one that the AAS or many politicians, if any, have the courage to take on. It entails doing what the people want, not doing what is easy. It entails taking a tough stand, stepping out front, breaking down GOP talking points, and leading on this issue. If put to a public vote these politicians know the toll roads would fail, overwhelmingly. But they still proceed as if this is the only option.
Williamson County residents were told over and over again that a new landfill contract with WMI unstoppable. Yesterday that contract was indefinitely delayed. It is entirely possible to halt bad public policy. What it takes is an informed public. Most people when faced with the stark financial differences to their personal pocket book of the two choices below, would logically choose raising the gas tax over tolling roads. Raise the gas tax 3Â¢/gallon and index it to inflation, or drive roads with tolls of – and we’ll be generous – 15Â¢/mile. Broken down like this it becomes even more clear:
UPDATE: [Numbers below have been changed. Gas tax rate has been changed to 8Â¢ to reflect the number from the Governor's Business Council study.]
Assuming your car gets 20 miles a gallon and your daily commute on the toll road will be 20 miles (not, by any means inconceivable) you’d spend only an extra
38Â¢ per day driving to and from work. That’s the non-toll road math. So how much will it cost you with the tolls.
Again working with the 15Â¢/per mile scenario. using the same assumptions as above, you’d pay $3.00 per day in tolls. Using toll road math, that’s cheaper than
38Â¢. (Numbers reworked from this 11/06 McBlogger post).
This flawed logic must be accepted for someone to believe that tolls are cheaper than raising the gas tax. Toll roads are nothing more than an attempt to disguise a huge tax increase. In the above scenario the gas tax will go up every two years at the rate of inflation. But no one should for a second be under the false impression that the tolls won’t be increasing on these roads too. They will and, more than likely, at a much more than the rate of inflation.
Nothing kills bad public policy faster then bringing the facts to the public’s attention. Here’s an easy way to let them know you understand that tolls are bad public policy. You can send an email to all 19 CAMPO board members at once.
Tell all 19 CAMPO board members to “Vote NO Tolls on our Freeways! or I’ll help remove you in your next election!”.
This ONE email address goes out to all 19 Board members! (please include a subject heading, your name, address so they know you’re a real person) [EOW adds be respectful or it will have no effect]:
If the CAMPO board members don’t get the message from the voters that this is wrong and will cost them at the polls then policies like this will continue. Votes can be changed but the public must get active and be heard. If the public continues to keep it’s mouth shut about this, then they will only have themselves to blame for the proliferation of toll roads in Central Texas. Of course a phone call is much better than an email. Let them know your opinion.