Paul Burka’s “Behind The Lines” column in the December 2006 issue of Texas Monthly, entitled “His Way or The Highway”, is a must-read. Burka takes on Gov. Perry, the TTC, TxDOT, and “comprehensive development agreements” (CDAs). The only issue I have with it is that it should have been written before the election.
He tells a great story of how our state government has ceded control of our transportation future to corporations, foreign and domestic. He quotes Sen. John Carona (R – Dallas), Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation & Homeland Security, as saying this about CDA’s, “Within thrity years’ time, under existing comprehensive development agreements, we’ll bring free roads in this state to a condition of ruin.” Burka explains brilliantly here:
The private companies that will build and operate the toll roads are in business to make a profit. In order to ensure that profit, they must have people who want to drive on their roads. And – here’s the rub – in order to be sure that people will want to drive on their roads, the CDAs with TxDOT will contain non-compete clauses that prohibit TxDOT from building new roads or upgrading existing highways. Any improvement to an existing highway that is not already planned at the time TxDOT enters into the contract is prohibited. That billion-dollar concession limits TxDOT’s ability to improve nearby secondary roads. How about adding extra lanes? Sorry, prohibited by the CDA. An HOV express lane? Not a chance. This is why Carona says that free roads will be reduced to ruin. TxDOT will no longer be able to respond to the transportation needs of the state, other than to say: If you don’t like the traffic, use the toll road.
This is horrendous! They could essentially argue that building any road is competition. We are not just allowing corporations to porfit off our infrastructure we are giving them control, allowing them to dictate to us, the planning of our infrastructure. Needless to say what benefits their bottom line will take precedence over what will be best for Texans.
Burka finishes by saying that if this is not changed, “we are headed for the worst public policy fiasco of my lifetime.” He’s right about that. I believe it’s time to start a push to repeal HB 3588.