Eckhardt Will Vote For CAMPO Plan Tonight

Posted in Central Texas, Commentary, Privatization, Road Issues at 1:06 pm by wcnews

One of the five probable “no votes” mentioned in last week’s AusChron article has decided to vote for the toll roads. It’s Travis County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt, Why I’m voting for toll roads. After saying she’ll vote for the plan and detailing all the bad there is in this toll road paln, Eckardt tries to soften the blow by saying there will be some amendments to plan to make it less abhorrent.

I am offering an amendment to lock down the revenue generated from a toll project to the corridor in which the tolls are collected. The amendment would limit the use of any revenue beyond construction, maintenance and operation costs to improving the non-tolled options in and around the toll project and to public transit serving the same commuter population.

Under these amendments, the toll tax will go away when the construction debt is retired.

In addition, other CAMPO board members and I are offering amendments to require non-tolled access for rapid bus, van pools and car pools on all toll roads. We would require the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) — not the Texas Department of Transportation — to operate these toll roads. And we would require the toll roads to remain in public hands and be operated in accord with the will of the people of Central Texas.

Through these amendments, we, as a region, can make the investment so desperately needed for multiple forms of transportation in highly congested corridors. These efforts will increase equity and transportation options for the businesses and residents most burdened by intolerable congestion and the additional tolls necessary to address it.

My only question for Eckhardt is when these amendments fail, will she still vote for the final plan without them included? To try and work a deal, this late in the game almost insures it’s failure. Her attempt to make the tolls more palatable by voting for them and working form the inside, won’t work. The tollers already have their deal, there’s no need for them to compromise now. Let’s hope Eckhardt doesn’t expect the people to believe this attempt to rationalize her vote for this plan. Another blow to the anti-corporate toll groups, Eckhardt was elected specifically to vote against this type of thing.


  1. Sandra Ramos said,

    October 8, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    To answer your question plainly, no. Commissioner Eckhardt has vigorously stated if the amendments do not pass as she has proposed, she will not be voting for the TIP.

    Admittedly, I am biased, but I believe her working to find better solutions to these very complex problems instead of merely being in the minority against them is a good thing. Her work on these amendments with her fellow board members over the past few months (asking the hard questions of TxDOT and CTRMA) has resulted in a series of alternatives that would not have been raised or be up for consideration tonight. The votes have never been there for anything other than the TIP plan to pass. She’d rather the plan pass with palettable alternatives that lock the revenue to the corridor than to watch an flawed plan pass with merely a principled, yet minority, vote against.

    In my eyes, leaders work for better solutions and stand up for principles. I believe that is what the Commissioner has done.

  2. wcnews said,

    October 8, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    That’s good to hear.

    And I don’t take issue with her trying I just don’t think it stands much of a chance at this late date. I’ll take your word for it that there is a chance, since your closer to the action.

    The tollers and their allies on the CAMPO board will be tough to beat and I wish y’all luck. I do understand the “fix” you’re in.

    If she’s committed to voting against it if her amendments fail then she’ll, more than likely, be voting against it anyway.

    Thanks for commenting and reading EOW.

  3. Glenn said,

    October 8, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Ooops, so much for predicting the future. CAMPO did accept all the amendments.

    Unlike Houston or Dallas or most other cities building or considering building toll roads, now Central Texas has sound policy for what can happen with the tolls that are approved.

    I think these amendments where not only a politician doing the right thing, but they will end up being the smartest part of the decisions made today.

  4. wcnews said,

    October 8, 2007 at 11:20 pm

    Congratulations to Eckhardt for getting her amendments passed - I’ll take you word on that.

    I’ll hold further comment until I’m able to go over the final agreement.

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