Friday, August 26, 2005

Toll Roads Back In The News

Yesterday the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) gave thego ahead for it's latest toll project. No surprise here, if they didn't keep approving new toll roads they would have to pack up and go home. Here is the map of their grand scheme, er..plan. This is the East extension of U.S. 290 from IH-35 to, the hope, just past Manor:
Mobility authority officials would like to build the expanded road another three miles or so east to get it past Manor. But Thursday's action did not confer that authority, and the road east of Texas 130 has not yet been designated a toll road by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization board.

"I would like to make the (construction) disturbance just once between here and Manor," said Mike Heiligenstein, executive director of the mobility authority.
Now there's a familiar name. This new road will also have this handy feature:
The U.S. 290 East toll road would be all electronic, that is, with no toll booths for cash customers. Drivers without electronic toll tags would have to use the frontage roads.
If you ever want to get on this stretch of road you'll have to have purchased one of these direct debit "easy tags" to drive on it. But the most interesting part is this:
The chance remains that the mobility authority could farm out the job to a private roadbuilder, much as the state has done with the Trans-Texas Corridor toll road alternative to I-35 and is contemplating doing with two San Antonio roads.

Doing so, however, would assure that at least a small percentage of the tolls paid on such a road would leave Central Texas in the form of profit for the private concessionaire.

Heiligenstein said the agency will have that element in mind should any private companies approach it about U.S. 290 East.

"We have marketed toll roads to the community as a long-term opportunity to sustain our local transportation system," Heiligenstein said. "In that respect, we feel we need to keep the money at home. Depending on the final financial arrangement (with a concessionaire), it would have to be a good deal for the community."
Right.That's interesting because here's what it says on the CTRMA About Us page:
The law creating Regional Mobility Authorities increases local control over local infrastructure projects. The CTRMA is run by and for local people, and allows us to keep locally-generated toll revenues for local transportation projects instead of projects in Houston or Dallas or other parts of the state.
Those in Round Rock should take a look at these two items: One from Sal Costello at the blog The Muckraker, Maxwell Dealership Boycott: Week two! and this one from Texas Toll Party BOYCOTT Maxwell Dealerships.

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