UPDATED: RMA toll authority spends more of our tax dollars for a Push Poll. CTRMA tolls will cost as much as 10 times the national average!

Open Records request reveals
RMA Double Tax
Toll Plan
in BIG trouble.

Poll shows only 13% think it's reasonable to pay
the new higher toll rates
after CTRMA
breaks toll rate promise.

An open records request made by TexasTollParty.com founder, Sal Costello, revealed an extensive push poll conducted in August 2005 by Wilson Research Strategies funded with Central Texans’ tax dollars through the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA). An undisclosed number of respondents in the Central Texas area answered a telephone survey lasting 30 to 45 minutes with 35 questions. The push poll questions ranged from if respondents had toll tags to if they think charging "higher tolls during rush hour to discourage unnecessary trips" was a good idea. As if traffic congestion isn't enough incentive to keep joyriders off the road!

A whopping 78% said it's a bad idea to convert existing highways to toll roads. 68% oppose charging higher tolls during rush hour to discourage unnecessary trips. Only 13% said they'll pay the 15 cents per mile or more, the latest amount the CTRMA says they will charge!


From spring of 2004 to early 2005, the CTRMA repeatedly promised
12 to 15 cents per mile for the public highway tolls. They told the public and CAMPO (elected leaders like Mayor Will Wynn and Judge Sam Biscoe who voted YES to the double tax toll plan twice since last year) that the public highway tolls would cost Texans the U.S. average of 12 to 15 cents per mile.


The fact is, the actual average cost of traditional tolls per-mile in the US is 9 cents. The CTRMA's poll showed that people would be willing to pay .093 per mile. However, the CTRMA's website today shows they have increased tolls from 15 to 18 cents a mile.

Since early 2005, local officials like City Councilman Brewster McCracken found the true costs of the double tax tolls will be MUCH higher than 15 cents a mile - in many cases 30 to 43 cents per mile. Brewster has stated that TxDOT's own studies show 71 to the airport will be 64 cents per mile (the highest toll rate in the nation that I have found) PLUS whatever extra will have to be charged to build a $100 million intersection that is less than half a mile long! We could expect a toll rate of $1-$1.25 per mile on 71. That is the equivalent of a gas tax increase of $20/gallon. AND, Comptroller report on the CTRMA shows one at $1.00 a mile!**

MANY DOLLARS WORTH OF CHANGE A DAY EQUALS $1,000's OF DOLLARS A YEAR - for roads that are already paid for. One of the most telling responses of the CTRMA's poll
is question #20 (see below). It's nothing more than a desperate search for more money, it shows how this unelected band of crooks works. Remember, the Comptroller found these guys giving no bid contracts out to themselves and their crooked pals (including a convicted criminal and girlfriends of the CTRMA 'circle').

#20. In your opinion, what is a reasonable price per mile for use of a toll way?

Less than 5 cents..........37%

Between 5 and 10..........20%

Between 10 and 15.......10%

Between 15 and 20.........4%
Between 20 and 25.........5%
More than 25 cents.........4%
(Add 4 + 5 + 4 = Only 13% think 15 cents or more
per mile is fair - what percentage of folks will pay the $1.00 per mile tolls?)
Refused to Respond........20%

RMA's in other parts of Texas, such as San Antonio are also asking the same "How much will you pay" survey questions. San Antonio has police on hand, apparently ready for double tax toll rage, as they hand out questionnaires at intersection of an already funded loop 1604.

In a different tax funded CTRMA poll, from some months ago, the public responses gave negative personifications of the toll plan, such as:

"She's heavy set and bossy, her breath smells like smoke and convenience store coffee. She's cold and calculating."

"A teenager with their hand out for money and always hungry and always wanting to borrow the car."

Sal Costello, Founder of TexasTollParty.com said, "Gov. Perry, Mayor Will Wynn and other special interest politicians empowered this unelected, unaccountable CTRMA to charge us a toll for roads we've already paid for. This highway robbery, on top of growing gas prices, will surely cripple the pocketbook of the average family. At some point, these 'Tax Hungry' politicians must understand, that our already funded roads like 183, 45S, 71E, 71W & 290W must not be tolled!"

The CTRMA came under fire last March when Comptroller Carole Strayhorn released an 85 page report exposing the new toll authority’s double taxation scheme, lack of accountability, and the contracts without bids to CTRMA board members and their friends.

The CTRMA’s toll plan marks the first time in our country when tolls would be placed on public highways, many have already been funded with our tax dollars. Tolls have always been designed and built as toll roads and funded with investor dollars.


Sal Costello


Founder of TexasTollParty.com

LISTEN - KUT Radio NEWS spot: CTRMA poll says only 13% would pay CTRMA high toll rates.

Toll Road Opponents Drive Message Home To Motorists

SA Citizens take to the streets to say NO FREEway tolls.


SA Citizens "This Road Was Already Funded!" Flyer Distribution Kick-off!

The front and back of "GRIDLOCK" flyer that the SA Texas Toll Party volunteers will be handing out at US 281, beginning Wednesday morning, to inform drivers that the road was already funded with tax dollars. This citizen action takes place after TxDOT's "How much will you pay" survey questionnaire's they TxDOT had for drivers. San Antonio had police on hand, apparently ready for double tax toll rage, as they had questionnaires at the intersection of an already funded highway.



San Antonio, TX, September 27, 2005 – TexasTollParty.com is set to launch a PR blitz of its own to counter survey distribution by TxDOT asking people what they're willing to pay for tolls.

WHO: Grassroots citizens through the Texas Toll Party.com

WHAT: Flier distribution blitz during rush hour traffic on 281

WHEN: Wednesday, September 28 @ 8:00 AM!
WHERE: US 281 at Evans Rd.

WHY: To give motorists the facts about TxDOT's toll plan.

"What most folks don't know is that they don't need to pay tolls at all!" says Terri Hall, Director of the San Antonio Texas Toll Party.

"TxDOT has a FUNDED plan for the major improvements to US 281 north of Loop 1604, and it should already be under construction. But TxDOT threw that plan in the trashbin in order make us pay a toll to drive on a freeway we've already paid for and for improvements we've already paid for. We know and trust the taxpayers to get informed on this subject, and that once people are aware of the facts, they'll help us work to fight this outrageous misuse of taxpayer money," Hall remarks.

TxDOT has been failing to tell the public this key information and framing the debate as tolls or we get no improvements. When they're taking EVERY freeway main lane on US 281 and leaving only frontage road as the free lanes, they ARE forcing people to pay a toll as well as converting an existing highway that's already paid for into a tollway at a cost of nearly $2,000 a year for the average family (more if the toll rates are $.44-1.00 a mile like it was revealed in an independent review up in Austin).

The State's gas tax revenue has increased steadily for the last 20 years. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is big business. In fiscal year 2004, it took in $6.1 billion in taxes and fees. If it were a private corporation, it would rank 304th in the Fortune 500, ahead of companies like Southwest Airlines ($5.9B), Monsanto ($4.9B), and Starbucks ($4.1B). Unlike a private corporation which depends on attracting customers, TxDOT is a governmental monopoly without competition. "Last I checked, we pay gas tax and continue to pay gas tax every day. TxDOT takes in $6.1 billion a year.

If we can't get our needed improvements with that kind of money when our federal interstate and our major state highway infrastructure is already built, then it's our government who has a spending problem, rather than it being a problem of us being taxed too little," Hall believes. "These guys are masters at making it appear as though the well has run dry, but the facts speak otherwise."
Many of these toll projects are already funded improvements; hence, there's no need to toll them. Also, San Antonio sends away $100 million more EVERY YEAR in gas taxes than we receive back. That's the exact dollar figure TxDOT says we're in the negative every year.

"It's not rocket science. Our legislators need to be getting the money we're already taxed back in San Antonio before they suffocate us with a lifetime of tolls," Hall declares, "especially when it costs more to build and maintain toll roads than to build them as free roads. This is whole thing smacks of fiscal mismanagement. Why on earth would we spend more to build toll roads only a few can use versus build them as free roads at less cost that EVERYONE can use?"

Tolls are a sloppy tax where most of the money goes into collecting the tolls, and in this case when using a public-private agreement (known as CDA agreement), goes to line the pockets of a private corporation for up to 50 years.

Contact: Terri Hall, Director of San Antonio Branch of the Texas Toll Party
EMAIL: terrih@gvtc.com

WEB: http://www.TexasTollParty.com

CLICK HERE: Gov. Perry and his appointed TxDOT Exposed! See #3.


Perry's Corridor scheme now includes the State of Texas playing the part of developer.

Gov. Perry has more spin than Hurricane Rita.

Gov. Perry statement that the evacuation was a success is an offense to the millions who were stuck in traffic gridlock and the dozens who died evacuating. This badly organized and badly executed "Texodus" took the lives of more people than Hurricane Rita. Last weeks failure proves the Gov. and his appointed TxDOT leadership have been too focused on tolling roads we've already paid for to do proper evacuation planning. It should be a stark wake-up call for real disaster planning.

Experts say:

• Leaders should not communicate a sense of fear or a sense of panic - that helped cause "Texodus" gridlock.
• Citizens awareness multimedia campaign (like Washington DC's) will help people be more prepared for earlier, staggered evacuation, with more efficient current alternative modes such as buses and train.
• A contingency plans with bus transit for a Hurricane Bus plan with Pickup points to also help those without transportation.
• Have contingency plans with Amtrak to move people out.
• Be prepared to turn two-way streets and highways into one-way evacuation routes (Leaders waited far to long to do this for a limited number of highways - Transportation Department officials have said they did not strongly consider converting highways to one-way traffic before last week - that suggests that contraflow was NOT in the plan).
• Have refueling tankers prepped with proper nozzles. (National Guard trucks were sent out fitted with fuel nozzles for jets, not cars.)


Many Poor Residents Stuck in Houston.

CLICK HERE: Gov. Perry's comments to MSNBC about evacuation going well.

"This evacuation is going relatively well.”
– Gov. Rick Perry

CLICK HERE: Being on the highway is a deathtrap

In Houston, Eugene English, foreground, and his nephew Bobby English were going nowhere after their car broke down on I-10, after warnings about Hurricane Rita.

New York Times: "A high-occupancy vehicle lane went unused, he said, and they saw no police officers. At one point, Mr. Adcock said, he called the Texas Department of Transportation for an alternate route, but the woman who answered could not find a map."

CLICK HERE: Fleeing Rita, cars choke every lane.

Barbara and Don Rushe pass out water to motorists in jammed traffic near Houston. Many travelers spent hours on the loud and gritty roadside, waiting in vain for the traffic to abate in an effort to conserve gasoline.

CLICK HERE: For motorists, all roads lead to frustration

"This was not in the plan"

– County Judge Robert Eckels

"Why wasn't TxDOT on the same page?"
Houston City Councilman M.J. Khan,
stuck for hours trying to get his elderly
mother-in-law to the airport.

"Either we plan or we doom ourselves to this exercise."
Bill King, a lawyer and former
Kemah mayor who's long said
the region wasn't adequately prepared
for a large-scale evacuation.

Escape from Houston is a slow-motion 'hell'

“I thought it would be better planned. It's hell
Laura Broussard, 13 hours after leaving
her Channelview home, barely out of Houston.

CLICK HERE: Emergency Planning failures.

"Our state leaders blew it and should be held accountable."
"Why wasn't this planning done months and years ago?"


Is gas too cheap?

TxDOT & Our Money

From a friend in San Antonio.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is big business. In fiscal year 2004, it took in $6.1 billion in taxes and fees. If it were a private corporation, it would rank 304th in the Fortune 500, ahead of companies like Southwest Airlines ($5.9B), Monsanto ($4.9B), and Starbucks ($4.1B).

Unlike a private corporation which depends on attracting customers, TxDOT is a governmental monopoly without competition. It gets its revenues from both user taxes and fees as well as tax subsidies from non-users. Approximately one-third of TxDOT revenue comes from state excise taxes on gasoline, diesel and other motor fuels. The tax that most Texans are aware of is the state gasoline excise tax which is 20¢ per gallon. Twenty of the 50 states have a gasoline excise tax less than 20¢ per gallon.

Texas taxes diesel fuel at the same rate as gasoline even though large, heavy trucks – usually powered with diesel fuel – cause most of the wear and tear on our roads. According to the Federal Highway Administration, large tractor trailer trucks are responsible for road costs on a vehicle-mile basis that are more than 10 times that of automobiles. To achieve more equity, 15 states charge a higher excise tax on diesel fuel than on gasoline.

In 2003 (the most recent year for which comparison data is available), TxDOT was second only to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in terms of total disbursements. In that year, Caltrans spent $9.3B while TxDOT spent $6.8B. But, California has more population than Texas, so Caltrans only spent $259 per person compared to TxDOT’s $306 per person.

In addition, Caltrans spent 23.7% of its budget on local streets and roads as well as grants to local governments while TxDOT only spent 6.5% of its budget on local roads. As a result, TxDOT spent $286 for every man, woman and child in Texas only on its state-owned roads. This is $88 per person more than Caltrans spent on its state road system.


TxDOT's running scared.

Buckle Up for the Tracking and Tracing of Central Texans.

Rick Perry: "I'd like to find a way to toll tax Texans for driving Freeways they've already paid for. Those Texans wander around like cows on a farm. You just never know. Can't we just find a way to track and trace them, so we can 'milk' them more?"

TransCore: "Rick Perry, all your dreams are about to come true."

Rick Perry: "They hate traffic. Let's just tell them it'll cure traffic congestion. Hey TransCore, I'm waiting for you to pay the toll to my campaign. Multimillion dollar contracts don't grow on trees, ya know."
Even though the Central Texas Double Tax Toll Plan is about to be put under a microscope with the long awaited Independent Review, (to begin public hearings in October) - TxDOT just signed a multimillion dollar contract to Track & Trace Central Texans before the Independent Review even begins.

TXDOT selected TransCore's RFID technology for the Central Texas Turnpike Program. Yesterday's press release gives details about the multimillion-dollar contract, and how it allows for the initial release of 500,000 track & trace toll tags. The "eGo" tag will be sold under the brand name of TxTag. It gets placed behind/under your rear view mirror and it allows TxDOT to perform traffic surveillance and automatically charge toll fees.
They expect to sell 2 million tags over two years! I think I'd like to start pronouncing eGo as "Yugo" like that disposable car from the 80's, or "You go and tell Perry where he can stick his TxTAG". The eGo tag and it's litigation is discussed below.

The Williamson County heavy CTRMA sits back and collects the toll tax after TxDOT does the contract work for toll tags. The local RMA's or 'Mini TxDOT's' are stellar examples of bloated bureaucracies at their worst. You really have to hand it to Rick Perry and his creative taxing schemes.

How much confidence does TxDOT really have in TransCore?
We ARE talking about a multimillion-dollar contract.
Here's an email that might shed some light. TxDOT's Jana Doyle tells a PSSJ contractor what she thinks about TransCore's John Mike. The guy with 2 first names is TransCore's Vice President of Business Development:

From: "Jana Doyle" (JDOYLE@dot.state.tx.us)
To: "Hurst, Richard C" (RCHURST@pbsj.com)

Date: 2/23/2005 9:47
Subject: RE: FW: Story on Transcore Read Only Sticker Tag in Georgia


That was interesting. I didn't know there was litigation over the patent eGo tag. What about the SeGo tag we are supposed to use?

Have they even developed any of these? I swear John Mike reminds me of a used car salesman so I never know what to believe.
From other documents I've seen, the Customer Service Center for Central Texas is, or will be located at 12719 Burnet Road, 78727. North of Parmer Lane adjacent to Loop 1.

Apparently each and every toll lane must be licensed - toll taxing us folks for roads we've already paid for is big business. Records show that TxDOT is having major problems in this area. Over a dozen licenses were rejected and one was tabled in May 2005. Since Sept 2004 the FCC has also placed a freeze on the same 900 MHZ applications as the TransCore eGo/TxTAG. For you RFID nerds - the freeze from the FCC is because of a "concern for Nextel's ability to obtain necessary 'green space', otherwise known as 'vacant spectrum' ".

Don't you like the magic of how a pretty word like 'green space' can make the tracked and traced technology so darn appealing? Maybe they can change the name of the TxTAG to 'Freedom Mountain' or 'My Little Pony'.

READY TO TAKE A STAND against Mayor Will Wynn, Rick Perry and the other special interest politicians that sold us out? Click here to take the Toll Poll.


Statesman: Turnpike agency told to pay fees.

Coming Full Circle


Our Grassroots Citizens group awarded
legal fees in CTRMA Accountability Lawsuit!

This week, Judge Byrne awarded PET Inc $18,787 for attorney fees in its accountability lawsuit against the first freeway tolling authority in the country, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. And, the judge also ruled the CTRMA would pay an additional $5,000 to $15,000 if the CTRMA appeals and looses.

The CTRMA is now claiming they will appeal!

On the heals of another, albeit small legal victory to limit the terms of the Regional Mobility Authorities, Sal Costello, founder of TexasTollParty.com comments on the Regional Mobility Authority appeal.
Costello said, "You'd think that in the wake of Katrina, this bloated bureaucracy of weasels would have some shame in appealing a decision they'll lose again. They violated the constitution, and now they want to waste more dollars. But, this unelected Double Tax tolling RMA has no shame. What they do have is about $300 million dollars!

Who is to blame when the RMA is unaccountable and unelected? Mayor Wynn and the other elected CENTRAL TEXAS LOOTERS that empowered the CTRMA to charge us a toll for roads we've already paid for."

On 7/14/05 Travis County District Judge Darlene Byrne not only ruled that the statute that establishes the boards of directors for Regional Mobility Authorities violates the constitution, the Court also enjoined any member of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority Board from serving more than a two year term.
The lawsuit exposed how RMA's (FREEway tolling authorities) throughout Texas are unconstitutional. Under House Bill 3588 an RMA board has 6 year terms. But, a provision in the State of Texas Constitution says a regional entity must be 2 years or less. The state constitution trumps state law.

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's RMA investigation called "A Need for a Higher Standard" reports that the RMA, being an unelected board allowed to privatize and toll our freeways, creates "double taxation without accountability", and that the RMA's loose management practices cost all Texans more. NOT surprisingly, Comptroller also found favoritism and self-enrichment as board members gave contracts (without bids) to their friends and their own companies.

Linda Curtis, chief organizer for the Texas Toll Party said, "What this is really about is Rick Perry trying to prop up Robert Tesch, his appointed CTRMA chair, who just filed bankruptcy -- and Perry's pathetic Prop 9 at the polls this November 8th, to win back his 6 year terms. Does that give you any confidence in their being accountable to the public?"

TexasTollParty.com and PET Inc. are cross partisan grassroots organizations fighting for Texas transportation accountability.



Mayor Nyle Maxwell concerned for Gay Drag Show. But he's FOR Double Tax Tolls.

RMA board member resigns while Johanna Zmud refuses to resign over same conflicts.

North East Texas RMA board member Jay Stokes resigned on Wednesday, because of state statutes that prevent officials from cities that might benefit from RMA projects from serving on RMA boards.

So why has Johanna Zmud refused to resign from the CTRMA after 6 months since she's was caught with her hand in the cookie jar? The Comptroller asked that Zmud resign since her company (NuStats) has a contract with TxDOT, and Zmud benefits from that contract. The press release from March 9, 2005 clearly states,

"Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn today called for the resignation of Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority board chairman Robert Tesch and board member Johanna Zmud."

It continues,
"Zmud is part owner of a business that contracts with the Texas Department of Transportation, which makes her position on CTRMA's board an apparent violation of the Texas Transportation Code."

JUST WEEKS AGO, knowing that last March, Comptroller exposed this Zmud conflict, Travis County Commissioners Sam Biscoe, Karen Sonleitner and Gerald Daugherty REAPPOINTED Johanna Zmud!!!!! Biscoe, Sonlietner & Daugherty also voted to toll roads we've already paid for at a tune of well over hundreds of millions of dollars. This is an outrage!

CLICK HERE: TxDOT Doomsday scenario painted at last week's transportation forum drawns fire.

Transportation forum double tax toll protest in San Antonio last week.


Risky Toll investments will cost Taxpayers EVEN more.

Traditional toll roads are inherently risky investments for taxpayers who ALWAYS bail out the investment firms to protect future bond ratings. Add the new variable, the experiment of privatizing and tolling our public highways here in Texas. Add the secrecy of negotiations of Gov. Perry and his appointees. Add in the local politicians who fear the light being shined on the facts - as they say we don't need independent reviews.

Even traditional toll roads represent a gamble - that the economics of driving will not change. But recently we've seen the
cost of gas rising, a continued sluggish economy and now even a reduction of overall miles driven because of these factors.

Local planning boards continue to ignore trends that are developing now and focus on growth trends of the 1990s. The first public highway tolling authority (RMA) in the state, the CTRMA sold it's first bonds for 183A just months ago (before the cost of gas surged). But the 500 page 183A official statement stated the "Traffic and Revenue Report are based on the assumption that motor fuel will remain in adequate Supply and motor fuel prices will not exceed $3.00 per gallon" (over the next 40 years)

In 1997, the Texas Transportation Commission passed Minute Order 107059 approving a private toll road to be financed, constructed, and maintained by Camino Colombia, Inc. in Webb County near Laredo, Texas.The Texas Camino Colombia Toll Road failed and the bondholders foreclosed on their $75 million note. The toll road was sold auction style on the steps of the Webb County Courthouse Annex on January 6, 2004. John Hancock Financial Services Inc. bought back its investment for $12.1 million. And with our tax dollars TxDOT bought it at a premium price of 20 million, while Hancock made an 8 million profit.

The RMA's will tell you that the taxpayer is not responsible for the failed toll road bonds. That might be true theoretically, but the fact is, someone always pays for toll road failures. History shows the special interests gets protected - while the taxpayer takes the hit.

This World Bank Toll Road investment pdf explains:

"Even holding the effects of toll levels constant, traffic volumes are very sensitive to income and economic growth. The failure to recognize this may be one of the main reasons why so many toll road projects have failed or ended in bitter renegotiations.

Many toll road projects in the last decade have dramatically overestimated traffic levels. In some of the Mexican road concessions, traffic volumes were only one-fifth of the forecasted levels. In Hungary, the Ml Motorway attracted only fifty percent of its expected volume in its first year of operation. The Dulles Greenway, outside of Washington, only attracted one-third of its expected daily volume. Even after a toll reduction of forty percent, the Greenway still was only able to achieve two-thirds of its originally forecast volume."


HB 2702: More Loopholes than a bowl of Fruitloops

Below is very small section of the HB 2702 that was created by Palestine Senator Todd Staples. Staples is the Senate chair of Transportation and he replaced his crap with Krusee's crap in a pissing match last session. It was supposed to be a transportation clean-up bill for HB 3588. But, how can political weasels create a solution? As we see here - they can't.

After HB 2702 passed, Staples and Gov. Perry strutted around like a couple of peacocks and bragged about how HB 2702 gave the public the right to vote locally to decide on public highway to toll road conversions. For the most part, the news media (everyone but Ben Wear of the Statesman), gobbled up the lie and served it to the public without doing any homework. They didn't read the bill or chat with anyone who had. Just another lie by special interest politicians. You don't have to be an attorney see some of the devil in the details here. This legislation has "more loopholes than a bowl of fruitloops" as one volunteer PET attorney told me. A portion of the public highway to tollroad conversion section of HB 2702:


Except as provided by Section 228.2015, the department may not operate a nontolled state highway or a segment of a nontolled state highway as a toll project, and may not transfer a highway or segment to another entity for operation as a toll project, unless: (1) the commission by order designated the highway or segment as a toll project before the contract to construct the highway or segment was awarded; (2) the highway or segment was open to traffic as a turnpike project on or before September 1, 2005; (3) the project was designated as a toll project in a plan or program of a metropolitan planning organization on or before September 1, 2005; (4) the highway or segment is reconstructed so that the number of nontolled lanes on the highway or segment is greater than or equal to the number in existence before the reconstruction; (5) a facility is constructed adjacent to the highway or segment so that the number of nontolled lanes on the converted highway or segment and the adjacent facility together is greater than or equal to the number in existence on the converted highway or segment before the conversion; or (6) the commission converts the highway or segment to a toll facility by: (A) making the determination required by Section 228.202; (B) conducting the hearing required by Section 228.203; and (C) obtaining county and voter approval as required by Sections 228.207 and 228.208. Sec. 228.2015. LIMITATION TRANSITION. (a) Notwithstanding Section 228.201, the department may operate a nontolled state highway or a segment of a nontolled state highway as a toll project if: (1) a construction contract was awarded for the highway or segment before September 1, 2005; (2) the highway or segment had not at any time before September 1, 2005, been open to traffic; and (3) the commission designated the highway or segment as a toll project before the earlier of: (A) the date the highway or segment is opened to traffic; or (B) September 1, 2005. (b) This section expires September 1, 2006. SECTION 2.37. Section 362.0041, Transportation Code, is transferred to Subchapter E, Chapter 228, Transportation Code, redesignated as Sections 228.202-228.208, and amended to read as follows:

Sec. 228.202 [362.0041 ]. COMMISSION DETERMINATION [CONVERSION OF PROJECTS ]. The [(a) Except as provided in Subsections (d) and (g), the ] commission may by order convert a nontolled state highway or a segment of a nontolled state highway [the free state highway system ] to a toll project [facility ] if it determines that the conversion will improve overall mobility in the region or is the most feasible and economic means to accomplish necessary expansion, improvements, or extensions to that segment of the state highway system. Sec. 228.203. PUBLIC HEARING. [(b) ] Prior to converting a state highway or a segment of a[the ] state highway [ system ] under this subchapter [section ], the commission shall conduct a public hearing for the purpose of receiving comments from interested persons concerning the proposed conversion [transfer ]. Notice of the hearing shall be published in the Texas Register, one or more newspapers of general circulation, and a newspaper, if any, published in the county or counties in which the involved highway is located.

Sec. 228.204. RULES. [(c) ] The commission shall adopt rules implementing this subchapter [section ], including criteria and guidelines for the approval of a conversion of a highway. Sec. 228.205. QUEEN ISABELLA CAUSEWAY. [(d) ] The commission may not convert the Queen Isabella Causeway in Cameron County to a toll project [facility ]. Sec. 228.206. TOLL REVENUE. [(e) Subchapter G, Chapter 361, applies to a highway converted to a toll facility under this section. [(f) ] Toll revenue collected under this section:

(1) shall be deposited in the state highway fund;
(2) may be used by the department to finance the improvement, extension, expansion, or operation of the converted segment of highway and may not be collected except for those purposes; and
(3) is exempt from the application of Section 403.095, Government Code. Sec. 228.207. COUNTY AND VOTER APPROVAL. [(g) ] The commission may only convert a state highway or a segment of a[the ] state highway [ system ] under this subchapter [section ] if the conversion is approved by :(1) the commissioners court of each county within which the highway or segment is located ; and (2) the qualified voters who vote in an election under Section 228.208 and who reside in the limits of: (A) a county if any part of the highway or segment to be converted is located in an unincorporated area of the county; or (B) a municipality in which the highway or segment to be converted is wholly located .Sec. 228.208. ELECTION TO APPROVE CONVERSION. (a) If notified by the department of the proposed conversion of a highway or segment under this subchapter, and after approval of the conversion by the appropriate commissioners courts as required by

Section 228.207(1), the commissioners court of each county described by Section 228.207(2)(A) or the governing body of a municipality described by Section 228.207(2)(B), as applicable, shall call an election for the approval or disapproval of the conversion. (b) If a county or municipality orders an election, the county or municipality shall publish notice of the election in a newspaper of general circulation published in the county or municipality at least once each week for three consecutive weeks, with the first publication occurring at least 21 days before the date of the election. (c) An order or resolution ordering an election and the election notice required by Subsection (b) must show, in addition to the requirements of the Election Code, the location of each polling place and the hours that the polls will be open. (d) The proposition submitted in the election must distinctly state the highway or segment proposed to be converted and the limits of that highway or segment. (e) At an election ordered under this section, the ballots shall be printed to permit voting for or against the proposition: "The conversion of (highway) from (beginning location) to (ending location) to a toll project." (f) A proposed conversion is approved only if it is approved by a majority of the votes cast. (g) A notice of the election and a certified copy of the order canvassing the election results shall be sent to the commission.

More blogs about toll roads.


GUEST BLOGGER: I-35 or Trans Texas Corridor?

Lately, there has been much discussion and speculation about the Trans Texas Corridor that Governor Perry has introduced into Texas. No one seems to know where, exactly, the toll roads will be or even why we need them.

The TTC is 4000 miles of .25 mile wide toll roads, broken into 11 separate corridors and covering 584,000 acres of productive Texas farm and ranchland. Cintra, a company from Spain has been selected to build it and even though the document they signed remains secret, we do know that this foreign company will be allowed to keep all the revenue from the tolls and the businesses built in and around the toll road, for the next 50 years.

We also are aware that Texas will monetarily compensate Cintra using "shadow tolling" until the TTC is able generate revenue agreeable to Cintra's projected estimates. This compensation will exist for an estimated 26 to 28 years at the tax payer's expense.

Recently some public documents have surfaced shedding light on all the unanswered questions surrounding this massive set of toll roads. The following information can be found in "Crossroads of the Americas: Trans Texas Corridor Plan", "I-35 Trade Corridor Study" and "1991 NAFTA Agreement":

In 1999, while George W. Bush Jr. was still Governor of Texas, a study was completed that had been undertaken by TXDOT/Texas, the FWHA and five other states: Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota. This study was in compliance with the 1991 NAFTA agreement signed into law by then President George Bush Sr. According to this law, three, (not four as proposed by the TTC) primary trade corridors were to be selected in Texas that originated at the Texas/Mexican border, traveling to the north Texas/Oklahoma border. This document studied the feasibility of widening and improving I-35 in its entirety, from Laredo, Texas to Duluth, Minnesota to facilitate the anticipated new NAFTA truck traffic.

The study stated that I-35 would be able to accommodate traffic needs until 2025 by adding two truck lanes, and if warranted, additional lanes could be added by using relief routes and/or double decking, all accomplished using existing Right of Way. It also included increased transit use in and around urban areas and acknowledged that "actual lanes might be less than expected".

Environmentally, the I-35 improvements were concluded to "have fewer environmental impacts" than other alternatives that were also studied. TTC has had no environmental study and if built as proposed, will devastate thousands of acres of endangered Blackland prairie and pave over untold numbers of historic sites, while simultaneously separating Texas wildlife into fenced sections from which they cannot escape.

And what would be the price for this I-35 Freeway, wide enough to accommodate all our traffic until 2025, from Laredo, TX to Duluth, Minnesota? $10.9 billion dollars.

Incredibly, the I-35 study would not require any additional right of way from Texas land owners. And the study stated "that by using this recommended plan it would produce an annual cost savings of almost $2.38 billion annually in travel efficiency benefits by 2025".

And: "the economic impact of this plan was projected to be 43,100 permanent jobs created by the I-35 improvements",
And: "$20.9 billion in discounted value added",
And: "$30.8 billion in personal income added",
And: "$18.4 billion in added wages".
AND "When the total cost to implement this strategy, ($10.9 billion) is compared to the benefit from it, the projection is that $1.86 in BENEFITS will be realized for EACH DOLLAR EXPENDED." (Emphasis mine.)

We need to ask our legislators why they voted in favor of this Trans Texas Corridor in the first place. And why, when a constitutional amendment called Proposition 15 came before the 77th Legislature in 2001, that gave the Department of Transportation additional authority to finance, construct and operate toll roads, why…did you not inform the people who voted you into office that Proposition 15 was deceitful, unethical legislation designed not to help TXDOT improve our existing roads, but to make possible the creation of the Trans Texas Corridor?

We need to know why, soon after Perry was sworn into office the TXDOT study for I-35 was ignored and then shoved under the rug when it would solve our traffic congestion until 2025, actually financially benefit Texans and Texas, allow Texans to keep their private land and profit Texas $1.86 for every $1.00 spent to build it. And are there other studies buried somewhere that would allow the same type of beneficial improvements to the other designated primary corridors?

It would seem our Governor and our Legislators have some straightforward questions to answer and a 4000 mile planned toll road to abandon.

– By Cynthia Ross of the TTC Research Committee of Bell County with permission. email http://www.blogger.com/GadeRoss@aol.com for sources of information.


Perry's Highway Robbery cost$ everyone More.

The State of Texas (Gov. Rick Perry) should learn from California's expensive freeway to tollway mistake:

"...California in the early 1990s. Legislators caught in a budget squeeze and steeped in no-tax ideology saw private toll lanes as a win-win solution to rising traffic congestion in the endless suburbs southeast of Los Angeles. Under a banner proclaiming, "New roads, no tax dollars," an Omaha-based contractor was hired to build and operate four new toll lanes in the median of Hwy. 91 in Orange and Riverside counties.

When opened in late 1995, the lanes stretched 30 miles from Buena Park to Corona. Their $135 million cost was privately financed with bonds to be repaid through tolls. But those bonds would not sell unless a noncompete clause was included. The clause prohibited the state from improving the public portion of the roadway, so as to induce more drivers onto the private toll lanes. The clause also prevented any competing roadway improvement within 1.5 miles.

As often happens with road expansion, Hwy. 91 was again clogged with traffic within three years. When the state tried to add lanes to the public portion, the company sued, citing its noncompete clause.

Finally, in 2002, after a barrage of litigation, Orange County stepped in to purchase a key stretch of the toll lanes in order to make crucial road and transit improvements. The county paid the private operator $207.5 million for 10 miles, and faces a similar high-cost dilemma with three other local privatized toll roads. These roads contain no public lanes but do have noncompete clauses that prevent capacity improvements. Four years ago the county tried to persuade the state to buy the roads, but the $3.5 billion price tag was too high. Two of the roads are popular and profitable, but the San Joaquin Hills road is failing and cannot meet bond obligations.

Concepts that sound good in the halls of a think tank sometimes turn bumpy in the real world."


Perry's RMA 183A "toll road to nowhere" fails before it's built as gas prices soar over $3.00 a gallon.

183A financial forecasts will fail before it's completed - as gas prices soar over $3.00 a gallon (well before the year 2045!). This is the first toll road for the first RMA in Texas. The RMA's are unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy's that will set the toll rates for public freeways in Texas. Official Statement for 183A Investor Bonds from March of 2005, Page 71:

"The revenue forecasts in the Traffic and Revenue Report are based on the assumption that motor fuel will remain in adequate Supply and motor fuel prices will not exceed $3.00 per gallon" (over the next 40 years)

VANDALISM: $1,000 Reward from Circle C Homeowners Association...

...for information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons vandalizing Circle C Homeowners property. Please contact the CCHOA management office at 512-288-8663 with any information.

I stopped a female vandal from vandalizing my home in Circle C, Friday, August 19, 2005 at 11:32pm. The vandal was a white woman in her 30's, medium build - she drove off before I could get the make and model of the car. She left evidence in my yard that has been given to the police. Some of her handy work is found in these pics. Sal@TexasTollParty.com