September 13, 2006

Toll roads and more lies from TXDoT

Kuff, Somervell County Salon and EOW all have great posts up about toll roads and the fact that they really AREN'T needed to fill our transportation needs. TXDoT has an estimate of 17 cents per gallon in local gas tax to replace the lost revenue from tolls in Travis, Hays and Williamson Counties. CAMPO came up with 2.4 cents. Why the difference? Here's the raw copy from the Statesman...

This latest calculation takes into account the lost profits from the toll roads over the next four decades, as well as a (hypothetical) $2 billion bond sale in 2048 to build more roads or rail projects, a borrowing that would be supported by the tollway profits still further in the future. That amounts to about $4.4 billion in revenue that would have to be matched by a gas tax, according to the analysis.

As EOW points out astutely, if we are building public roads why are we worried about covering profits for a private contractor? Oh wait, that's right... if we build public roads we DON'T NEED A TOLL CONTRACTOR OR TO PAY FOR THEIR PROFITS! Further, why are worried about a bond package of $2 Bn in 2048? Seriously, this is the most specious argument to come out of TXDoT since the infamous $28 billion to expand the 35 came out... Why the hell would we spend money NOW to build out a freeway for traffic that won't be there until sometime in 2040??!?!?!? You BUILD incrementally with tax revenues, which leads me back into the projections on the Capital Area Toll projects. Forgetting profit and the retarded need to replace $2bn in funding in 2048 (are you laughing yet?), the number originally used by CAMPO is a hell of a lot more accurate.

Now, expand it statewide, make it 4 cents per gallon and eliminate any diversion of transportation dollars from transportation projects (when the building backlog is longer than 4 years) and you have yourself an expanded system of public roads of which we can be proud.

But McBlogger, you whine, I live in Tyler and don't want to pay for a freeway in Austin... WELL, in the event you don't enjoy sitting in traffic on Broadway, that money will ALSO HELP TYLER. Kuff has more on toll road math applicable to the Houston area but coming to soon to every region of Texas.

They're talking about an additional local tax on gas, since the state tax is 20 cents per gallon. I don't really care about the details of this plan or the politics behind it, I just want to remind everyone of the numbers. I've done this calculation before, but it looks like I'm going to have to keep on doing it since the mainstream media doesn't. So: If you use 40 gallons of gas a week - and remember, that's the equivalent of driving 600 miles per week while averaging 15 miles per gallon - you'd pay an extra $6.80 per week with that 17 cent tax. I don't know what the toll structure would be like on this road, but a full-distance round trip on the Westpark Toll Road would set you back $6.50 per day, or $32.50 per week, assuming no weekend driving. Just getting on and off the Westpark Toll Road as part of your daily commute is $10 per week. Tell me again what's so damn scary about that 17 cent gas tax?

Even at TXDoT's wildly inflated 17 cent number, GAS TAXES STILL MAKE MORE SENSE THAN TOLLS. In fact, increasing the gas tax of the state will increase commerce and create much needed job and wage growth, something not seen substantially in Texas this decade. Increases in the economy will more than offset the 4 extra cents per gallon you have to pay at the pump. Plus, it has always (as Kuff points out) made more sense to spread out taxes to the broadest base possible so no group is impaired. Tolls do exactly the opposite.

I know you get it. It seems that more than more people are getting it which is why so many have turned out for the TTC meetings. The big question I have is why is this so difficult for the Statesman, the DMN, the Houston Chonicle and other papers to understand? One of the reasons the DMN gave for not endorsing Hank Gilbert was transportation which Hank is all for. What Hank is against are toll roads and the DMN has conflated one with the other. That makes them lazy at best, stupid at worst.

Come on, Wayne Slater! You're smarter than this!

Posted by mcblogger at September 13, 2006 03:47 PM

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» You couldn't even get the toll roads right from McBlogger: low-calorie but still full-flavor
I remember when the debate over tolls was joined. I remember the bullshit and the lies, how it was 'the only way we could build out transportation infrastructure this decade' without compromising. So, exactly what the hell am I to... [Read More]

Tracked on November 16, 2006 09:44 AM

» You couldn't even get the toll roads right from McBlogger: low-calorie but still full-flavor
I remember when the debate over tolls was joined. I remember the bullshit and the lies, how it was 'the only way we could build out transportation infrastructure this decade' without compromising. So, exactly what the hell am I to... [Read More]

Tracked on November 16, 2006 09:47 AM

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