Funny Story About Tolls And Local Control…

Posted in Privatization, Road Issues, Around The State at 10:24 am by wcnews

As evidenced by what is happening in Houston.

Harris County leaders said Wednesday they might reconsider their decision to double peak hour fees on the Westpark Tollway, but the review might not lead to a reduction in toll rates.

Nice doublespeak. Also, to a lesser extent North Texas, it’s becoming clear that even local control of toll roads is not the answer to our, Texas’, problem with funding transportation. With toll roads as the answer to our transportation problem, the increases will be of larger dollar amounts and more eye popping, than a raise in the gas tax would have been. A toll road, generally speaking, is servicing a much smaller segment of the overall driving population. This and many other projects around the state could be paid for with a raise of a couple of pennies on the gas tax for all Texans instead, and here would be no tolls on the roads.

If you haven’t realized by now TxDOT’s plan is to toll every new road project in Texas. In that case huge toll increases will become a way of life for Texans, especially when the traffic doesn’t show up like projected by the consultants.

The funny part is that because of the legislatures action this year - SB 792, the so-called toll road moratorium - the burden and blame for rising tolls has shifter to local elected officials. Here’s the article on the toll increases by HCTRA, As Westpark tolls rise, so do tempers.

Harris County Commissioners Court’s decision Tuesday to fight congestion on the three-year-old Westpark Tollway by forcing some drivers off the road with higher rush-hour fees drew the ire of cash-strapped commuters.

And a dismissive response from Commissioner Steve Radack — “Let them go down Richmond Road” — made the new $2.50 tolls even less palatable for some.

Commuter Vic Stewart, in an e-mail, said of the Commissioners Court, “And ‘Let them eat cake!’ They’ll certainly have time.”

Commissioners Court voted unanimously to hike fees to $2.50 from 6-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m., hoping fewer drivers will use the tollway.

The court, also in a unanimous vote, raised fees by 25 cents on all county toll roads. The increases will go into effect in September.

Wow, that’s a lot of money. The state government has abdicated their duty of raising money to pay for roads through the gas tax. A gas tax is the most broad based, fairest, and sanest way to pay for new roads. Gov. Perry, Ric Williamson and elected state officials like Rep. Mike Krusee tell us that because of this tolls are the only option left in the tool box to build new roads. It’s this way because of their lack of leadership, to do something that’s tough and necessary, raise the gas tax. It’s debatable whether tolls are left as the only option because of incompetent neglect or planned neglect to force toll roads, and corporate toll roads in particular, upon us. Like so many things that “conservatives” have done to our government it’s hard to tell if it’s actual incompetence or their admitted hate of government that causes them to sabotage our government so it looks like incompetence.

Surely most local elected officials thought this would work out better than this. The shifting of this burden to local officials will, more than likely, cause turnover, lost elections, in most metropolitan areas. The locals can try and blame the state but most of these local officials probably wanted the extra power this brings, just not the responsibility that has come with it. So our only option is to pay up like Mr. Radack suggests or drive on the non-tolled roads. Happy motoring

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