Thursday, May 12, 2005

Why Does Every New Highway Have To Be A Toll Road?

Is it just me or have you noticed it too? Every new highway that is being built in the Austin area, those in Williamson County in particular, are all going to be toll roads. But upon further review, as they say, it's happening all over Texas as well. Why is this happening and is it what the people of Texas want? Well this article from mySA.com, Toll agency wants to transfer project, may shed some light on the situation. I know it's San Antonio but it could be our situation some day too. They have a proposal before them to allow a Spain-based company, Cintras, and a local company, Zachry Construction Corporation to build and operate the toll roads without giving them any up front money. Want do they want you ask? The tolls for 50 years.The other reason this is important to us is because later in the article Rep. Mike Krusee's name is mentioned.
In related news, the Texas House late Wednesday approved a bill that would expand the Texas Department of Transportation's ability to construct, with a private partner, the Trans Texas Corridor. Cintra has signed a contract to build the first 600 miles of the system.

"This bill insures that TxDOT will have the necessary tools to address congestion on our highways and push the Trans Texas Corridor," said Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Round Rock, the bill's author.

The bill would provide the Texas Transportation Commission and the Texas Department of Transportation additional flexibility to acquire, finance, maintain, manage, operate, own, and control rail and highway facilities in Texas and allow the agency to enter into non-low-bid contracts in connection with the Trans Texas Corridor promoted by Gov. Rick Perry.
Oh that corridor. It's everywhere, like Visa. Do Rep. Krusee and Gov. Perry want to allow Cintra and Zachry to build toll roads, among other things, all over the state and not have to pay them any money up front? Do they want to let Cintra and Zachry collect the tolls for 50 years? Do these companies think that's a better deal? I don't think corporations are in business to lose money. Let's just say that Cintra and Zachry are in the construction business and they make sure politicians know it.

Toll roads are the way around a "tax" in these politicians eyes. They're playing games with your money and they hope you won't notice. They may lower a tax of some kind but now every time you want to get somewhere you'll have to pay. 15 cents/mile to start with:
The chart above indicates that the Chicago Skyway is one of the most expensive toll roads in the country. On October 27, 2004, the City of Chicago approved a 99-year concession to a Spanish-Australian consortium who will pay $1.82 billion within 90-days. The joint venture of Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte SA of Madrid, Spain, and Macquarie Investment Holdings of Sydney, a wholly owned subsidiary of Macquarie Bank Limited (Australia's largest investment bank) expect to realize at least a 10-percent return on their investment. To achieve their profit goals the concession agreement allows Cintra-Macquarie to double tolls over the next 10 years starting with a 20% increase January 2005.
In the long run this is a worse thing to do than just paying your taxes as we currently are and then not having to pay a toll every time we go somewhere. Not to mention all this new legislation allowing this authority to establish that rule for how they prefer to do "business". A few years back Rick Perry came up with a proposal to build roads and rail all over the state and the people of Texas never bought into it. The Governor, the Legislature and Corporations did. Who do you think will benefit the most from the TTC? The people of Texas or those other three? It will never be put up to a vote because they know it would fail. The only way to change this is to hold those responsible for this policy accountable. That means voting them out of office. What do you think?




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