STATESMAN: What did TxDOT not know, and when?


Monday, December 17, 2007

Steamed senator wonders why TxDOT pulling funding
for toll road plan after politically risky vote in October

Kirk Watson is not happy.

State Sen. Watson, you see, and 14 of his Central Texas colleagues pretty much put their posteriors on the line in October, approving a toll road plan despite gathering evidence that voting for tollways can be hazardous to your political health.

Then, in late November, less than two months later, the Texas Department of Transportation decided to cut off spending on new construction starting in February, a move that could threaten those Austin toll projects.

What Watson has asked TxDOT, and what others are wondering: What exactly did TxDOTnotknow about its financial pressures around Columbus Day, when the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization board he chairs was authorizing five toll roads that TxDOT had conceived and pursued for four years?

That toll road vote, as Watson repeatedly pointed out in a letter last week to Texas Department of Transportation Executive Director Amadeo Saenz, was based upon a commitment from TxDOT that it would furnish up to $700 million of the $1.45 billion cost.

In fact, the words "committed," "commitment" and "commitments" appear a total of nine times in the three-page letter from Watson. The senatorial grinding of teeth jumps off the page.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

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