October 29, 2007

Tolls : TURF wins!; TXDoT to slow down 35 and more

  • TURF won, obtaining a continuance in the suit to force TXDoT to back off their TTC propaganda campaign...

    Judge Orlinda Naranjo granted Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) a continuance allowing TURF to move to the discovery phase and depose top Transportation Department (TxDOT) officials, including Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson himself. Allowing discovery is vital for TURF to force TxDOT to hand over key documents that they’ve been withholding via Open Records requests. TURF is seeking to immediately halt the illegal advertising campaign and lobbying by TxDOT.

    Of course, they've also been busy down in SA

    With a U.S. 281 tollway plan racing toward the finish line, critics Monday filed yet another lawsuit they hope will slam on the brakes.

    This time, they went to a federal court in San Antonio and reached back to the First and 14th amendments of the Constitution, which protect freedom of speech and provide equal protection under the law.

    The lawsuit seeks to remove non-elected officials from the Metropolitan Planning Organization board and to ban Sheila McNeil, a city councilwoman who serves as chairwoman, from squelching some discussions on toll issues.

    "The people of Texas are fed up with out-of-control, abusive government," said Terri Hall of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom. "This is taxation without representation."

    Congratulations to Terri and Hank!

  • Sal Costello has come across some interesting information regarding a plan to make the 130 Tollway more competitive with the 35 Freeway, by dropping the speed on 35.

    The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has agreed to consider lowering the maximum speed limit on a stretch of interstate highway that competes with a planned toll road. Cintra-Zachary, a joint Spanish-US venture, paid TxDOT $1.3 billion for the right to collect tolls on 40-miles of State Highway 130 set for construction beginning in 2009. Although TxDOT suggested that free market competition was part of the goal of using a public-private partnerships to construct and operate roads, the contract it signed on March 22 to construct this portion of SH130 was specifically designed to limit the desirability of alternate, free routes.

    "The compensation amount owing from TxDOT to Developer on account of the competing facility shall be equal to the loss of toll revenues, if any, attributable to the competing facility," the contract states. (

    Yeah, we knew this was going to happen. Granted we didn't see them dragging down speeds, we just thought they'd stop the state from making improvements to 35 which the poorly written and negotiated contract obviously allows. Of course, we have our BRILLIANT Texas Transportation Commission to blame for that. Which is why you never let a Republican negotiate... they'll give concessions that aren't even necessary.

  • There a couple of great articles on privatization over at the TTC Blog...this one from Newsweek and this one from Time. The gist? Privatization is still rolling along and it's not all it's cracked up to be. Of course, people have to learn one way or another that the taxes they currently pay aren't keeping up with the paying for the services they demand. Which is exactly what people in 1980 predicted Reagan would start.
  • Posted by mcblogger at October 29, 2007 06:26 PM

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