My Letter to Editor in Response to Oak Hill Gazette Article

Dear Oak Hill Gazette,

In last weeks Gazettee article, "Highway 71 will get safety improvements", Sen. Kirk Watson blamed the Ledge (of which he is a part of - including the vice chair of the powerful Senate transportation committee) for diverting $6 Billion dollars away from the transportation budget.

When in fact, Sen. Watson himself, as chair of CAMPO last October, led the vote to divert nearly $1 Billion tax dollars (which was intended for freeways), into a plan to shift Austin freeways into toll roads (portions of 71W, 71E, 183, 290W, and 290E - including Oak Hill at the Y).

And, after our freeways are shifted to revenue generating toll roads, Watson approved wants the corrupt Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) to set the toll rates and collect our families money.

The Comptroller's Report from 2005 showed how CTRMA board members gave out NO BID contracts to themselves and their friends, and found “Double Taxation Without Accountability”.

And, Watson approved all this while he was paid undisclosed sums to lobby on behalf of developers who seek new roads. Shame on you Senator, for ignoring the overwhelming public opposition to these new Austin double tax tolls. You are supposed to work for us, not your special interest pals.

Watson, we won't forget you come election time,
Sal Costello


Anonymous said...

That article makes me want to puke. Every political official interviewed is responsible for the deaths of the drivers for diverting money from maintenance in the first place. And they mention tolls as the solution. Hell no. Praising Watson for saying he'll improve 71 after this loss of life is like praising ValuJet execs saying they'll improve maintenance the day after the plane crashed. Watson and Daughtery should be set to jail for skimping on maintenance. If this were public transit and people died , officials would be held responsible. But because we have to drive our own cars, we're held responsible for the poor road conditions officials intentionally create to serve their tolling agenda. Someone needs to write these families and educate them- toll roads are much more dangerous than non-tolled roads.

Anonymous said...

One time I went to a poetry slam. The guy got up and said something like "Got dumped. Do more bongs. Found another girl. Do more bongs. Got fired. Do more bongs." Well, the toll road people remind me of this. "Motorist dies in NJ crashing into a toll booth. Do more tolls. Teenagers die on 71 due to intentional neglect of road maintenance. Do more tolls. Need more election money. Do more tolls. 93% of citizens polled oppose tolls. Do more tolls."

Steve said...

This money for safety improvements is coming from a raid on tax money set aside by txDOT to help support building the Austin-area "son of Phase 2" toll roads.

So, the history of this txDOT commitment is:

the size of the gas tax stash offered as match for tolling shrank from $1,200 million (July 2007) to $700 million (Oct 2007) down to $65 million (Jan 2008). Now if Watson pinches another $30 million out of it for the "safety" money, well...

Doesn't leave a lot of funding for construction of Austin area state highways from any source other than toll revenue bonds, does it?

This is an astonishing meltdown of our promised gas tax money. Moreover, Sen. Watson proposes to "replenish" his newly created safety fund as it gets spent with the receipts from tolling.

So now, besides the disappearing tax support of our roads, "safety" will be held hostage to the success of future tolling.