Proof that Gov. Perry's TxDOT doesn't know their own toll plans.

Dialog between TxDOT's biggest boss, Ric Williamson and myself proves TxDOT doesn't know it's own plans (the following is a transcript of TxDOT Commission Meeting from 10/28/04)

MR. WILLIAMSON: We have the dilemma of having to provide infrastructure for that growth in the fashion that the governor and the legislature has given us. It was the governor's view that if we were to have to go down this path, the wisest course of action was to place the financial benefit of doing this at the taxpayer level of those who were going to pay for it. So we created the structure of the RMA and toll equity so that if you choose to pay a toll, every time you pay a toll in Central Texas, that dollar is staying in Central Texas.

MR. COSTELLO: THAT IS NOT TRUE. The dollar that somebody pays at a toll booth, a portion of that, a large portion of that, about 45 percent of that dollar goes to collecting that dollar. That is what happens with the tolling idea. It is a sloppy, inefficient, additional tax, that's what it is.

MR. WILLIAMSON: Why don't we stop for a second. Is anyone here with expertise that can speak to that? Phil? Because if Mr. Costello believes that 45 percent of our gross revenue goes to collecting the toll, then if he's right, then we need to be doing something real fast.

MR. POWELL: I can't tell you exactly what the percentage is right now.

MR. BEHRENS: State your name for the record.

MR. POWELL: I'm David Powell, director of Information Technology and Operations for the Turnpike Authority Division. I don't have an exact percentage as to what that is. I know on the total project budget there's something like 5 percent for toll collection systems, and the operations the per transaction cost can be somewhere around a quarter apiece. A lot of that is labor to collect the transaction which people locally employed is a high component of that cost.

MR. WILLIAMSON: I thought that our system or any system we invested in also envisioned electronic tolls only, no coin collections. Is that not the case?

MR. POWELL: Absolutely, yes, and electronic toll collection is much less expensive.

MR. WILLIAMSON: I'm sorry, Mr. Costello.

MR. COSTELLO: Also, what was proposed to CAMPO when they voted that this would be an all-electronic plan, but when you add toll booths -- which now they're talking about collecting cash as well, you're slowing down traffic, we're talking about bottlenecks all over Austin. How does that help mobility? And again, we want to see a study.

Well, Mr. Costello, I can tell you that this commission has made it very clear publicly we will not invest the state's equity in any toll plan that is not 100% electronic. We're not going to be in the toll booth business

MR. COSTELLO: Well, I suggest you look at the CTRMA's website because they are backing off the electronic route only on their website and even in recent papers, The Houston Chronicle yesterday talked about the problems with all-electronic. These tollways that were all-electronic, they're having major problems with them.

MR. WILLIAMSON: Well, major problems from one person's perspective. We view the very objection you have to the traffic backup for coin boxes as being more of a problem than whatever problems are occurring electronically, and I will just tell you -- in fact, if you care to stay till probably about six o'clock tonight, we're going to have a discussion about interoperability of tolls,
and we will repeat our toll master down there what we've said to him ten times: no booths; we are not in the toll booth business, we're in the electronic toll business, that's all we're in.

After TxDOT promises NOT to be in the toll booth business, I find TxDOT documents showing dozens of toll booths for Central Texas. The diagram below shows how the toll booths hold TOILET's. Doesn't look 100% electronic does it?


Anonymous said...

No toll booths? I drive past at least 12 manned, cash collecting toll booths that are at the end of Mopac (start of TX45).
Wow - what a boondoggle!

Porkus Maximus Tex: said...


The cat is out of the bag.

I think what we have here are electronic pay toilets...

Governor Parry is about to privatize Austin's sewer system.