Texas Senators found out last week that The Texas Dept of Transportation (TxDoT) is still charging tolls for roads already bought and paid for! Some are paying as much as $50 a day to use the system!
Toll Roads have been a sore subject with voters in Texas for a long time. Often the roads are being built or bailed out by the taxpayers creating a a double tax scheme!
Texas Senators Bob Hall, Lois Kolkhorst, and Don Huffines grilled TxDOT Executive Director James Bass at a Senate Transportation Committee meeting.
Terri Hall, founder of the statewide group Texas TURF (Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom), reports in the AustinCountyNewsOnline:
The use of public funds to, in essence, bail out toll projects that cannot pay for themselves with the toll revenues only, was the subject of much consternation by the conservatives on the committee. Senator Lois Kolkhorst has twice authored the bill to make tolls come off the road when the debt is repaid. She was quick to jump in and grill Bass on the Loop 375 Border West Highway toll project in El Paso.
Bass called it a unique financial arrangement, and Kolkhorst, visibly irritated, responded, ’Well, explain that ‘unique’ arrangement.”
First, the entire project is paid for state funds. Not one penny of debt is owed, yet drivers will be be charged tolls to use it (it’s currently under construction). The project is jointly owned by the state and the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (or RMA), even though the RMA put no funds into the project. In fact, the state gave them $500 million in Texas Mobility Funds which granted the RMA ownership in proportion to that dollar amount, and the state paid the $130 million balance of the $630 million project with gasoline taxes. So the state gave away over 80% ownership to an unelected toll authority who will reap over 80% of the toll revenues for a 100% paid for highway.
It’s no wonder the senators suffered from shock.
Terri goes on to report that:
Senator Bob Hall echoed her frustration and pursued it further, “There are numerous toll roads that have no debt on them, and they’re still being tolled.”
You will want to read all of Terri’s article!
The Toll Roads need to go period. Not only are they a nuisance, they are not accessible to those with low income.
Senator Don Huffines pointed out that the tolls “are segmenting society between those who can afford tolls and those who can’t and it’s bad policy.”
TxDot is scamming the public! As always, the scheme is not working as promised, costs much more than promised, and is doing nothing but causing a great big hassle!
The double billing is only the beginning! You seriously want to read all of Terri’s article!