Pro-Toll Site Critiques Sen. Hutchison’s Bill To Prohibit Tolling Existing Interstates

Posted in Around The State, Congress, Privatization, Road Issues at 11:27 am by wcnews

Here’s the article from Pro-Toll site TollRaodNew.com, Wild anti-toll bill filed in US Senate by Sen KB Hutchinson. It takes issue with claims mad by Sen. Hutchison regarding the bill she filed this week, S 2109.

US Senator from Texas Kay Bailey Hutchinson (Repub) has filed a bill S2109 which purports to prohibit tolls on existing untolled interstates. The bill is so poorly drafted it is difficult to know whether to take it seriously.

Section 1 is titled “Prohibition on imposition and collection of tolls on certain highways constructed (NOTE: past tense) using federal funds”. Then under definitions “The term ‘federal highway facility’ means any highway, bridge or tunnel on the Interstate System that is (NOTE: present tense) constructed using federal funds.”

The garbled tenses make it unclear whether S2109 means to ban tolls on interstates built in the past with federal funds (the title’s past tense) or to prevent tolling of highways being built now with some federal funds (the definition’s present tense).

The present tense used in that definition in the Hutchinson bill seems to emasculate it. It could be interpreted to exempt all the existing facilities already constructed from a toll ban.

Keeping tolls from being put on currently non-tolled interstate highways apparently isn’t as easy as just passing a bill. Tolling existing interstates faces an uphill battle without this bill. From an earlier AAS article:

Texas law would require approval by county commissioners and taxpayers in a referendum if the state wanted to convert interstate highways to toll roads.

With that in mind it’s doubtful that a county commissioner could get reelected voting for tolling existing interstates. It’s even more doubtful a referendum would pass in the current environment. So, with that in mind Sen. Hutchison’s bill, at this point, seems like political pandering. Not to mention she hasn’t said much about how she would propose to funding transportation in Texas

The senator’s bill is full of what she’s against - it offers no alternative to tolls for funding or managing traffic better than the gridlocked and unfunded “free” interstates.

Politicians often file silly bills in order to gain plaudits from a noisy constituency without wanting them to become law. Hopefully this is just one of those posturing bills.

Reassuring is a reminder in Hutchinson’s accompanying statement that she attempted to insert a measure just like this in the 2005 highway bill but it failed. But this shoddy, obscure bill is nevertheless irresponsible mischief because it promotes populist fantasies and distracts attention from problem-solving.

Or is a setup for a run at governor in 2010.

1 Comment »

  1. salcostello said,

    September 8, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    There are loopholes and I’m sick of them.

    And, most importantly, I’m tired of old Hutchison ignoring us for years while we fight to keep our freeways free. I say fire all of them and let god sort em out.

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