January 21, 2008

Tolls : More roads are on the way for WillCo and Travis

  • According to Sal, 290E's conversion from a free road to a tollway will begin this year, mostly because of a poor community response which was interpreted to mean that people supported the roads. As it turns out, not so much... the reality is, as usual in HD46, politics:

    I believe those early East Side meetings were contracted out to Rep. Dawnna Dukes sister, Stacey Rhone Dukes. Low income families were easily marginalized since advertising for the Phase II toll meetings was virtually nonexistent. Many East side families are pressed for time, some working two jobs, and have limited access to transportation, to attend public meetings in mass numbers. One of the public toll hearings I attended on the East side, in 2004, had less than 10 people show up, while West side hearings were often flooded - with hundreds.

    The East Side of Austin, known for low income families, currently has many times the double tax toll lane miles planned. When you also add 130 toll road, the disproportion is even more skewed, as East side residents would be "caged in" by toll roads. Federal law, Title VI (Environmental Justice) says must avoid disproportionately high economic effects on low-income populations. Title VI also states that we must “prevent the denial of, reduction in, or significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority populations and low-income populations.”

    Saddling the poorest part of our community with the biggest burden. Yep, that sounds like Dawnna!

  • EOW has some information up on the latest scheme to come from CTRMA ED Mike Heiligenstein and WillCo Pct 1 Commissioner Lisa Birkman, some kind of microconnector from RM620 to the 45 Tollway. Which makes me wonder why the hell Heiligenstein, much like Duke's sister, still has a job. I know Kirk reengineered CAMPO to load it down with WillCo people but even they can't continue to defend him. Most of them will be gone in the next two years, anyway.
  • Farm Bureau finally grows a pair! In 2006, Farm Bureau supported 39% and Todd Staples, two Republicans who have done a lot to trample the rights... of FB members. It finally appears as if Farm Bureau has finally had enough as a result of 39% veto of HB2006 last year.

    Dierschke: Yes, I was very surprised at the veto. It was inconceivable to us that the Governor that has stood in front of Farm Bureau members at dozens of meetings, who was professing his support for property rights, turned his back on farmers and ranchers and property owners.

    The reasons for the veto, what I’ve heard, really don’t ring true. We’ve heard some ridiculous numbers [of what it] would cost the state. But I really haven’t seen an official estimate when you come down to it...

    You can’t say to people, “We want our property, but we don’t want to pay for what it is actually worth.” We can’t have that in the state of Texas.

    We also heard from the Governor’s office that all the condemnation lawyers would benefit from the diminished access provision of House Bill 2006. That’s just nonsense. Actually, by more clearly defining the circumstances by which diminished access would apply, the need for lawyers would be much less.

    Then there was the ludicrous claim that House Bill 2006 did not apply to rural Texas. Tell that to the farmers and ranchers whose land is in the path of the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor.

    In fact, that is probably what the veto is about. For better or worse, the Governor has taken his legacy on the Trans-Texas Corridor. I think it is more likely that his legacy has already been defined by his property rights record, and it will not be favorable.

    Folks need to understand, though, that this is not just about the Trans-Texas Corridor. Anywhere, anyone in the state of Texas can have their property taken and be unfairly compensated.

  • Posted by mcblogger at January 21, 2008 01:13 PM

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