While there’s much to celebrate in TxDOT canceling the contract with Zachry to begin construction of a toll road on 281 (read about it here), it’s essentially an extension of the victory from January when the Federal Highway Administration pulled the clearance for the 281 project (see blog and story). In TxDOT’s press release yesterday, they state CLEARLY that they intend to re-bid the project at a later date. SO IT AIN’T OVER!
Why would TxDOT cancel the contract 3 months after they knew there would be a delay for at least a year? Aside from having to pay Zachry “stand-by fees,” it’s really to lead the public to believe the toll road plans are off the table when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth! TxDOT and the Alamo RMA are currently in negotiations with (2) foreign bidders for the 47 mile toll starter system on 281 and Loop 1604 and they could sign it at ANY TIME!
It’s done in secret (Express-News article on that here), the public is completely shut out, and once they ink the deal, we’re stuck with it for the next 50 YEARS! And once signed, TxDOT has demonstrated they plan to sue our own Attorney General with YOUR tax dollars to KEEP IT SECRET (See details on the first such CDA deal on the TTC-35 project here).
TxDOT’s new strategy is to say “nothing has been decided yet” to diffuse the firestorm, while negotiating a secret backroom deal. They’ve spent $1.2 million of YOUR TAXPAYER money just to spend a year negotiating this secret contract, does anyone honestly believe they won’t sign it? Here’s what some Collin County officials say up in the Dallas area about TxDOT’s push to use these CDAs (see toll glossary here):
“They are (TxDOT) so sold on this CDA process. I don’t think they are (TxDOT) going to let anybody do a toll road on their own,” – Collin County Commissioner Jack Hatchell
“It’s a money-grab…There’s no local control, plus they’re going to make a sizeable profit…it’s all done in secret.” – County Judge Ron Harris
“When the state sells out to the highest bidder, that automatically translates into the highest tolls for our citizens. I think that the Legislature needs to change the focus of TxDOT.” – Collin County Commissioner Jerry Hoaglund
If this isn’t taxation without representation and a total violation of open and transparent government, I don’t know what is!
STILL MUST ATTEND PUBLIC MEETINGS MARCH 29 or 30!
It’s essential to have a HUGE turn out at these meetings. It’s only necessary to attend ONE. Ask for the ORIGINAL plan to be implemented and other less expensive, less invasive non-toll options. The tollway version is nearly DOUBLE the cost and adds 6 lanes to the ORIGINAL plan. Tolling is THE MOST EXPENSIVE OPTION, yet that’s all they’re looking it. Read TxDOT’s press release on the blog (Link here), note how they say the options are toll it or no build! It’s unacceptable and we MUST go on record with other options in order to FORCE them to implement it later (in court if necessary).
Ronald Reagan High School Auditorium
19000 Ronald Reagan Drive
(Off Sonterra between Stone Oak Pkwy. and US 281)
Thursday, March 30 – TxDOT Public Meeting
Barbara Bush Middle School Auditorium
1500 Evans Road
(Between Stone Oak Pkwy. and US 281)