Not Much New At Transportation Forum - UPDATED

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Commentary, Privatization, Road Issues at 11:54 am by wcnews

It’s time again for TXDOT’s annual Texas Transportation Forum put on for TXDOT staff, contractors, engineers, mobility authorities, legislators, tollers and the like. From what transpired yesterday it appears that legislators of both parties have realized that the utter neglect of our transportation infrastructure over the last 30 years, but still don’t have a solution. They’re still clinging to the same old privatization schemes that Texans have already rejected. This is because the problem was caused by the conservative governing ideology and the solutions that are being proposed at are mostly from that same conservative ideology. In other words over the last 30 years, as our politics in this country moved to the right our infrastructure decayed. We should not be allowing policy makers from that same, now defunct ideology, to drive the solution to the problem they created. Expecting something different would be insane.

While Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas), along with other elected officials, is correct in calling for the gas tax to be raised at both the state and national levels, her embrace of not just tolls, but private toll roads and PPP’s, is not going to fix this problem. With our country’s economy struggling, a massive infrastructure project that would create jobs and put money back into our economy, is a better idea. Not more corporate welfare, especially where the money goes to a foreign corporation, that would be bad idea. Of course toll roads are fine as long as the local community is in favor of them, and votes for their approval.

What Rep. Johnson is doing is lending legitimacy to that failed ideology/conservative frame. Working from the perspective that our infrastructure has been neglected, we have no money, and we have to have money NOW, makes our elected representatives look gullible and willing to look at any plan, no matter the long term costs. We don’t need more plans that bring supposedly short term gain, and cause long term pain. At one point Rep. Johnson said this:

“Let’s face the real facts, there is not enough money,” Rep. Johnson said. With the country’s infrastructure — including water pipes, sewers, roads, bridges and more — in bad repair, she said the federal government is going to be looking for every penny it can find to foot the looming bills.

Hopefully they won’t put tolls on our water pipes and sewers, and sell those to the corporations too. What yesterday’s forum show us it that there are still no new ideas coming from those in power when it comes to transportation financing. Building our infrastructure which paved the way for last centuries boom years, came through taxpayer financing. Building dams, bridges, sewers, water pipes, electrifying rural America, and later the interstate highway system, and the research and development that brought about space exploration and the internet, we’re all tax payer financed. Big projects take sacrifice from all Americans to invest in the future of our country. It can’t be done by selling or leasing our commons to foreign corporations.

Soon to be former Rep. Mike Krusee spoke yesterday and Gov. Rick Perry will speak today.

[UPDATE]: Found this from the Star-Telegram, some wise logic from Sen. Carona:

Although stories about toll roads seem to pop up every week now, a lot of Texans just don’t seem to get the drift of what’s happening.

State Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, simplified things a bit last week during a luncheon speech to the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

If the trend toward toll-road proliferation continues unabated, Carona visualizes a not-too-distant future in which a typical commuter might average $10 a day in tolls. And with very few alternative routes to escape them.

“We’re not talking about the kind of tolls that go away when a road is paid off, either,” he said. “They’re toll roads forever.”

Though Carona, chairman of the Senate transportation committee, knows that a modest boost in gasoline taxes will never be popular, he calculates that in the end it would be much cheaper than irreversible toll-road mania.

But never mind that. Most of the more than 80 major road projects in the works in Texas, he said, are being contemplated as toll-road projects. Fourteen are in this region alone.

Our elected officials know what the right this is to do but won’t do it. That’s one of the reasons this issue is so frustrating.

1 Comment »

  1. Eye on Williamson » Texas GOP Still Follwing Perry On Transportation said,

    April 23, 2008 at 11:50 am

    […] idea to gamble state pension money on these schemes, there was nothing new. As mentioned in yesterday’s post there’s either the short-term gain, long-term pain schemes of the privatization advocates. Or […]

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