More On TxDOT’s PR Blitz That The Legislature Demanded

Posted in Around The State, HD-52, Privatization, Road Issues, Uncategorized at 8:12 am by wcnews

The HChron has the story, State officials trained to promote toll road plans on radio.

The Texas Department of Transportation has hired a public relations firm to help prepare agency officials and a top aide to Gov. Rick Perry for appearances on radio to promote toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor.

The $20,000 contract with ViaNovo is part of the agency’s Keep Texas Moving campaign, a public relations effort touting its implementation of Perry’s transportation policy.

Some lawmakers and anti-toll activists have condemned spending state highway funds — estimated to be from $7 million to $9 million — on a public relations campaign

Well we knew the money would be spent, it’s been appropriated after all. Rep. Mike Krusee is quoted in this one. Showing another reason why Rep. Mike Krusee won’t be reelected. This guy is just tone deaf. Did he spend the whole session in London? Here’s what he thinks the legislature “demanded” last session by passing two toll road moratorium bills.

But Rep. Mike Krusee, House Transportation Committee chairman, said the campaign is a response to lawmakers’ demands for the agency to improve its communication with the public.

“I think TxDOT’s doing exactly what the Legislature asked them to do, demanded that they do, and legislators who now cry foul are being hypocritical,” said Krusee, R-Round Rock. “They were the ones that beat TxDOT over the head in public hearings for not explaining this.”

Nope. Most of the legislature wanted to stop the TTC because of the PPP’s/CDA’s, non-compete clauses, 50 year leases, and foreign corporations fleecing Texans. Texans don’t need a PR campaign, they need legislators to come up with a real solution to our transportation problem. What the legislature showed was that they want a different policy, not a PR campaign. Krusee’s not going to win back any friends in the legislature by blaming this disastrous PR scheme on them.

Toll roads and the state’s aggressive policies regarding the controversial Trans-Texas Corridor were among the major issues of the last legislative session.

Opponents questioned the agency’s decision to use tolling to fund new roads, the route and necessity of the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor superhighway, and the state’s partnering with private companies to run toll roads.

Perry and other state officials have argued that toll roads are necessary in the face of congestion and transportation needs outpacing gas tax revenues.

That’s because the gas tax hasn’t been raised in 15 years. The end of the article has rebuttal from Rep. Lois Kolkhorst and Sen. John Carona.

Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, who sought to freeze development of privately run toll roads, said there’s a “lack of faith” in the agency’s policies.

“The Legislature did not tell TxDOT to go on a media campaign explaining the pros of the Trans-Texas Corridor and private equity investment (in toll roads). The Legislature said, ‘Please slow down, take a deep breath. We want you to pause while we make sure we are making the right decisions.'”

Sen. John Carona, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, said the program should be judged on how the officials use their air time.

“I don’t think there’s anything inappropriate about them obtaining media training,” Carona said. “I think it’s important to share with the public TxDOT’s goals and missions.

“If what they do on these radio shows turns out to be nothing more than a PR initiative for their current tolling plans and other controversial initiatives, then I and other legislators, I think, would have a great problem with it,” he said. “Additionally, if they were to use TxDOT funds to buy radio time or anything of that nature, we would be very opposed to it.”

From what I understand that is the plan Senator. Rep. Kolkhorst is completely right. Not to mention, that if all Rep. Krusee, Gov. Perry, and TxDOT took from last session was that they just didn’t do a good enough sales job on the TTC and toll roads then they just weren’t involved in the same session everyone else was.

Note: There are no Democrats quoted in this article. Which is typical of an article on statewide transportation policy. Like this one.
Nice quote here from Terri Hall of Texas TURF from a similar article in the SAEN.

But Terri Hall, founder and executive director of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, which opposes toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor, said: “It’s clear that TxDOT is not interested in listening to the people. That’s how they’ve gotten such an image problem. They could certainly use a PR campaign to clean it up — but not with my taxpayer money.”

Amen, make the corporations pay for this advertising not the taxpayers.

1 Comment »

  1. salcostello said,

    September 7, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    On Monday, Senator Kirk Watson wants you to stay home and sit on your Couch - while he steals $700 Million Tax dollars for Toll Roads.

    Or Pay and Pay and Pay.

    Smarter options, other than shifting our Austin freeways to tollways, do exist - although the Austin American Snakesman (which is on the board of the pro-toll Chamber of Commerce - also known as Take on Traffic) just wrote an editorial called “No Exit from Toll Roads” saying we don’t have any other choice.

    In the short term, the $700 million tax dollars shouldn’t be spent on toll roads, but on cost efficient non-toll solutions such as:

    · Variable speed limits
    · Ramp metering
    · HOV lanes without tolls
    · Reversible/barriered lanes for peak periods
    · Non tolled Parkways (like fix290.org with a nontolled $100 parkway, compared to TxDOT’s $400 million freeway converting tollway!)
    · Pass through financing
    · More arterial lane miles
    · Better incident management and
    · Advance computerized control of traffic signals.

    In the long term we must index the gas tax. The Texas Transportation Institute report states that more tolls are simply NOT needed - that indexing the gas tax and using the revenue to pay off bonds allows freeways to be built right now.

    Once placed, the freeway tolls will NEVER be removed from our public highways. In contrast, the Ledge has the opportunity to index the gas tax every two years!

    ATTEND T-DAY on Monday at 6pm at the Capitol and say “NO Freeway Tolls!”
    …or pay and pay and pay.

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