Friday, May 13, 2005

HB 2702, There's A Catch

Toll roads bill clears House was the headline on Wednesday. This article is updating the status of two similar bills - HB 2702 and SB 1706 - that are making their way through the legislature. The purpose of these tow bills is to help clean up the messes made by HB 3588 which was passed in the previous legislature. Whichever bill eventually passes will essentially make it harder to turn roads that were non-toll roads when they were planned into toll roads later in the process. Harder, not impossible. Oh yeah, there's a catch too:
Under both Krusee's and Staples' bills, if a road is already under construction as a free road, making it a toll road would require the conversion process in many cases. However, if the expanded road would still have as many free lanes as before, then conversion wouldn't be necessary. And if a local metropolitan planning agency designated a road under construction as a toll road before this May 1, conversion likewise would not be necessary.

Taken together, those exceptions exempt the remaining roads in the controversial Central Texas toll road plan from the litany of official votes needed to make them toll roads.

Both bills would also make conversions more difficult by requiring public votes.

Given vows by Perry and other politicians to stay away from conversions, and other legislation that would have the Transportation Department make an early decision about whether a project would have tolls, it's unlikely that the conversion statutes will be used anytime soon.

The legislation's changes in the Trans-Texas Corridor might have more ready application.


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