More Toll Roads Pass With Ease

Posted in Central Texas, Commentary, Had Enough Yet?, Privatization, Road Issues, Williamson County at 9:53 am by wcnews

The Chamber of Commerce (It’s former chair now heading CAMPO), the contractors, and the developers got the government hand out they’ve been wanting for 3 years last night. The long-laid plans of defunding our transportation infrastructure and making our roads much costlier for the user, and into profit-making operations for corporations, moved ahead last night. Call it what you will, but the price of driving in Central Texas just went way up last night.

The CAMPO board took a separate vote on each of the five roads, approving tolls on U.S. 183, Texas 71 East, and U.S. 290 West and Texas 71 West at the Oak Hill “Y” by 15-4; approving Texas 45 Southwest by 14-5; and approving U.S. 290 East by 14-4.

Voting yes on all five roads: Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe, Texas Department of Transportation Austin district engineer Bob Daigh, Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, Austin City Council Member Betty Dunkerley, Kyle Mayor Miguel Gonzalez, state Rep. Mike Krusee, Cedar Park Mayor Bob Lemon, Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long, Round Rock Mayor Nyle Maxwell, Austin City Council Member Brewster McCracken, Georgetown Mayor Gary Nelon, former Austin Mayor Pro Tem John Trevino and Austin Mayor Will Wynn.

Watson voted yes on four of them and recused himself on U.S. 290 East because he is a director of a bank with land along U.S. 290 East in Elgin. And Travis County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt voted yes on all but Texas 45 Southwest.

“I do believe there is enough money to do some or all of these roads as free roads,” said CAMPO board member Jeff Mills of Sunset Valley. “TxDOT just isn’t going to do it.”

Mills voted against all five, as did Austin City Council Member Jennifer Kim, state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez and Hays County Judge Elizabeth Sumter.

As the Texas Observer noted the board was stacked with pro-toll members, many from Williamson County.

The board is stacked in favor of toll roads, with mayors and representatives from outlying cities like Georgetown, Round Rock, Buda, and Kyle. These communities all stand to benefit from toll roads like SH 130. The common assumption is that the plan will pass easily. We shall see.

Many of these roads will affect the daily lives of those living outside of Austin, in Hays and Williamson, more. Of course tolling 183 South will soak everyone heading to the airport.

Now it’s up to us. We must hold these politicians accountable, (Sal has mugshots), for this policy they championed despite overwhelming public disapproval. They’ve made their decision and have to live with the consequences and so do we. If we allow them to continue in public office after this, it will be our fault, when toll roads continue to be built.

The toll opponents took pains Monday to make sure that the yes voters knew of at least one possible consequence: election challenges.

“Political suicide!” one man yelled repeatedly as the votes for the toll roads piled up.

Whether it was “political suicide” or not we’ll just have to wait and see. But if these politicians are reelected they will see that as approving of their policy. Any candidate for future office should not feel any fear in standing up and proudly stating they are for a higher gas tax as opposed to tolling ALL new roads. Toll roads should be the exception and not the rule. They’re fine when a specific local community approves of them via the ballot, not a commission or board.

CAMPO members believed the TxDOT’s broke story and believed they were left with no other choice. That’s what the tollers wanted them to think and it worked. There’s always choices, some are easier than others. EOW thinks those who voted for this just took the easy way out. It was easier for the board to take a plan that was already on paper, concocted by those who donated to their campaigns, then to do the work the people needed them to do. If this makes you mad, then channel that anger into making sure these elected officials political careers don’t continue.

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