TEXAS OBSERVER: Toll Road Roller Coaster

Toll Road Roller Coaster
by Eileen Welsome, The Texas Observer
March 23rd, 2007

Anti-tollers have got to be feeling bruised and abused these days. After a boisterous hearing at the Lege a couple of weeks ago; a rousing demonstration at the Capitol; a massive letter-writing campaign, and round-the-clock blogging, roughly 125 members in the House and Senate signed onto a bill that would halt private toll-road development for two years.

Then, on Wednesday, John Carona, the Dallas Republican who chairs the Senate’s Transportation and Homeland Security Committee did a flip-flop, saying he’s not going to bring the measure up for a vote. Wassup with that? Did the guys who make cement get to him?

Pressed by anti-tollers, Carona issued a lame explanation, saying that the moratorium wouldn’t solve the toll road problems. True enough, but the purpose of the two-year breather was to allow legislators time to fix the problemos before the entire state was covered with toll lanes and video cameras.

Ironically, the anti-tollers may be getting a little help from Darth Vader himself — state Rep. Mike Krusee — who several years ago pushed through the massive legislation that opened the doors to private road warriors across the globe. In an interview over drinks at the Stephen F. Austin Hotel Thursday night, Krusee said he was working with Carona and other reps to rework some of the more unpalatable provisions in the contracts.

Some of the items that might get tweaked in the so-called comprehensive development agreements are the contract lengths, buy-out conditions, the non-compete clauses, and possibly a cap on the number of CDAs that TXDOT can enter into with private contractors in any given year.

“It’s impossible to say how things will shake out,” Krusee said. “Carona suggested that we author a bill that incorporates many of the concerns that people have. He would do it in the Senate and I would do it in the House. Those bills are being written in consultation with members like Lois Kolkhorst and will be probably rewritten on the floor. ” Read the rest of the article HERE.

No comments: