FREEWAY TOLL TAX SCAM: Tollers sales pitch withers with a year.

Opens the door to open-ended new taxation that will amount to "THE LARGEST TAX INCREASE IN TEXAS HISTORY.”
--Lyle Larson, Bexar County Commissioner

Over the past year or so, crucial information from TxDOT, our RMA and politicians like Mayor Will Wynn about converting our freeway system to toll roads has fluctuated drastically. In contrast, the permanence of tolling our freeways is forever.

In early 2004, TxDOT District Engineer Bob Daigh told the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), and the public, "the toll plan cannot be changed". Within months, the freeway toll plan did change. The MoPAC/Wm Cannon bridge, one of the many roads we've already funded with gas tax dollars, was removed from the plan.

Throughout 2004, CAMPO board members such as Mayor Will Wynn said if they didn't vote yes to the toll plan, we'd risk losing $161 Million of the Texas Mobility Fund to other areas of the state. Fast forward to last month, when the powerful Texas Bond Review Board voted unanimously for an amendment that made it clear, "toll roads will not be a prerequisite to receive Texas Mobility Fund dollars".

In March of 2004, a Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) press release, as well as numerous public statements, TxDOT's Bob Daigh said, "...the alternative of paying a two-to-three-dollar per-gallon gas tax would never be accepted.". Fast forward to April of 2005 when CAMPO Executive Director, Michael Aulick, estimated it would cost only an additional 3.5 cents per-gallon gas tax for the same plan without tolls. Fast forward again to last week when the Michael Aulick revised his estimate even lower - to about 2 cents. 2 cents is certainly a universe away from $2 to $3 dollars. At the least, shouldn't Bob Daigh be fired for lying to neighborhood after neighborhood in the spring of 2004?

Throughout 2004, TxDOT, CTRMA and toll proponents said the toll plan would help solve our traffic congestion. Fast forward to today. Many citizens in South West Austin have taken a closer look at the tolling of their local highways, 290 West and 71. They realize traffic congestion, on the free frontage roads with numerous stop lights, will immediately get worse. Many families that can't or won't pay $5 to $10 dollars a day to go back and forth to work will be forced to drive additional miles daily as they steer clear of our revenue hungry expressways.

In the summer of 2004, CTRMA & TxDOT claimed it would cost 12 to 15 cents a mile to drive on the freeway toll roads while the national average is 9 cents a mile. By the spring of 2005 the cost estimates shot up to 44 to 64 cents a mile. The comptrollers report found one section that would be $1.00 a mile. All of this from an unelected, unaccountable RMA that can decide what we pay for what is already ours.

Yes, the legislature didn't raise the gas tax or begin the overhaul the corrupt cesspool we call TxDOT this year. But, the legislature can revisit these issues every two years. If TxDOT and the unelected RMA crooks are allowed to toll our freeways, Texan’s future leaders will not have the luxury of revisiting the freeway toll issue every two years. Taking our freeways back, once toll booths are in place, is not a likely scenario.

Tolls are much more permanent, than the sales pitch Pro Tollers have been peddling.

It's also important to note that no city in our country has ever shifted a freeway to a tollway. This will cost Central Texans HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS A YEAR, so the pivotal information we receive must stand the test of time, not wither within a year.

With Common Sense,
Sal Costello
Founder of www.AustinTollParty.com

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