Texas Toll Road Advocate Has Fierce Critic
by Jeff Robinson, KCPW News (Salt Lake City, UT)
Last week, Utah lawmakers took advice on highway funding from Texas Representative Mike Krusee, who strongly advocated for the creation of toll roads. Krusee told legislators that Utah drivers are getting away with paying only a small fraction of what it costs the state when they drive on highways. But the lawmaker has fierce critics in his own state. An Austin, Texas resident calls him a con artist.
"Most folks don't oppose toll roads, which have been separate from our public highways," said Sal Costello. "What Krusee's done in Texas over the past few years is create a scheme that diverts our tax dollars intended for freeways into these double-tax tollways."
Costello founded the People for Efficient Transportation political action committee and blogs frequently about toll roads. He says people are paying double to use Texas toll roads because drivers are charged the gas tax they pay at the pump, then charged again at the tollbooth. He says the gas tax is inappropriately being diverted to toll roads.
Furthermore, Costello says the toll roads pushed by Representative Krusee are built on public rights-of-way that had been set aside for public expressways.
"The public highway right-of-way has been shifted to tollways, so there's this monopoly and people are sort of forced to pay this double tax," said Costello.In 2005, the state's comptroller issued an extremely critical report about the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, which manages toll road creation in part of the state. It accused the agency of having no accountability.