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Tollers at final 1604 hearing trample on Martin Luther King’s legacy

NOT TOO LATE TO SUBMIT COMMENTS!

You know the highway lobby WHO IS PAID TO OPPOSE US is getting their pro-toll comments in, continue to flood these guys with all the evidence of the public uprising against the highest possible tolls using “market valuation” by sending your comments in to: Loop1604@hntb.com or by fax (210) 349-2101 by July 10!

Since HNTB also engineers many of these toll projects, ask for confirmation of your comments submitted to this biased contractor to ensure your feedback actually makes it into the official record.

Some major points to make since their environmental assessment claims there are NO significant environmental, economic, social, or health impacts to the 1604 toll project:

• There are MAJOR economic impacts to motorists who will have to pay the highest possible tolls through market-based tolling or be stuck in gridlock on the non-toll lanes. Initial TxDOT surveys show 29 cents a mile on 1604 and some toll rates are as high as $1.50 a mile in Austin, which means $2,000-3,000 a year in NEW toll taxes per commuter versus 1-3 cents a mile in gas taxes which is only $200 a year on average.
• TxDOT and the RMA are choosing the most expensive, most environmentally damaging, and most invasive option which is NOT in the public’s overall best interest DESPITE MASSIVE PUBLIC OPPOSITION asking them to do otherwise.

• Destroying our existing 4 lane freeway and rebuilding it into a 4 lane tollway with cement barriers and complex entrances and exits and with 4 lane freeway to the outside is a WASTE of taxpayer money compared to the less invasive, more affordable option of simply adding the two originally planned non-toll lanes down the existing median using gas taxes or bonds (TxDOT’s bonding capacity was just DOUBLED under SB 792).

• Making 1604 a toll corridor causes people to avoid the tollway and increases traffic on surrounding neighborhood streets and puts throughway users in competition with local street users clogging our neighborhood streets and making them less safe.

Highway lobby slithers in

The Krier/McCombs Texans for Safe Reliable Transportation group sent out their highway lobby minions once again to attend last night’s 1604 hearing. We know an email went out promoting it and asking their membership to stack the deck and come in casual (versus business) attire to say they were FOR tolls based on our conversations with some of them. Krier’s outfit had their own buttons (to counter ours) and we saw guys show up in Hawaiian shirts who were supposedly incognito go over and greet the SAMCo types slapping backs and laughing all the way to the microphone, trying to have their applause for the pro-toll crowd outweigh ours, etc. It was the biggest orchestrated circus yet and so low, even for Krier.

However, it couldn’t squelch the TRUTH that there remains OVERWHELMING public opposition from ORDINARY CITIZENS who are about to get fleeced to benefit these highway lobbyists. By a more than 3 to 1 margin, the testimony from the near packed house continued to demonstrate that TxDOT, the RMA and the politicians enabling them continue their toll plans at their own peril. The public WILL NOT tolerate this unnecessary tax grab!

Tempers flared as TxDOT’s insulting presentation spoke to citizens as if they were kindergarteners while they claimed there were NO environmental, social, or economic impacts to tolling 1604. Many couldn’t choke it down and gave stenographers their comments and left, others stepped outside until the dog and pony show was over and the public comments began.

The slick simulated “movie” showing the potential toll lanes and all their schematic drawings (that were not given to the public) all stated “subject to change.” We know what that means…it’s code for we’re changing this to maximize the number of people who take the toll lanes, we can change and minimize the exits from the toll lanes to keep our captive audience, and we can take away the number of free lanes just like they did in Austin. The State Auditor (read more here and here) and history shows TxDOT and the others pushing these detested toll plans LIE and say ANYTHING to push their toll agenda!

Tollers defile “I have a dream speech”

Case in point, Vic Boyer of Joe Krier’s San Antonio Mobility Coalition or SAMCo, invoked Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech where SAMCo and the Toll Party all live in harmony on toll roads and mobility is had by all (except those stuck in gridlock on the free lanes, of course). Talk about low, invoking one of America’s cherished civil rights leaders in an effort to promote economic segregation by tolling economically disadvantaged families, many of whom are people of color, off our freeways? What an OUTRAGE! Will the Hispanic Chamber continue to support this exploitation and treading on the legacy of one of America’s greats? What about civil rights groups and those representing the economically disadvantaged?

As usual, they put the Greater Chamber & SAMCo people up first and waited to call me up to speak when only a few people were left.

Toll Party testimony

To say that there are NO economic, social, or environmental impacts to tolling 1604 is an insult and your failure to consider viable alternatives to tolling violates your fiduciary duty to the public who PAYS YOUR BILLS! We believe there are other more affordable ways to accelerate 1604 improvements than tolling. The original plan for 1604 was only to add two additional free lanes. Now the project calls for 4 additional TOLL lanes, not free lanes, which requires them to bulldoze our EXISTING freeway and rebuild it. With waste like that, no wonder we have no money for roads!

The toll plan, though being billed as speeding up the improvements, will actually be more costly, will take longer, be more invasive to build, less safe, more damaging to the environment, and increase the cost to motorists for using the highway from 1-3 cents on average per mile in gas tax to a minimum toll start rate of 29 cents per mile UP TO the tax grabbing sum of “whatever the market will bear” for a minimum net increase of over $2,500 per year per motorist for a 20 mile ONE WAY daily commute.

We put forward other options to solve congestion without tolls like using our gas taxes, bonds, tidal flow, dynamic lanes, and accelerated projects like in WA, CA, & Austin– taking a 10 month project and shortening it to 9 days and saving 25% of the construction cost, and yet there’s no consideration of such alternatives in your assessment! Toll roads don’t solve congestion; they manipulate it for profit. Toll roads DON’T work if the lanes next to it are congestion free.

Houston has 83 miles of toll roads, have toll roads solved Houston’s congestion problems? No, in fact, they’re pushing miles of new toll roads and their politicians voted to DOUBLE their toll rates! From now on, you aren’t going to get freeway improvements or congestion relief unless you have an extra $2,000-4,000 a year for tolls. You can’t possibly claim there is NO significant economic impact from this toll project! We are not gullible ignoramouses, rather we’re well-informed citizens who know a rip off when we see one. An anti-incumbent tax revolt is in order!

This new tax on driving will have a devastating economic effect on businesses and consumers alike reaping both direct and indirect cost increases (higher cost of goods), particularly retail businesses along the corridor and businesses with fleets that use our highways multiple times per day for deliveries not to mention home values in the affected corridor. It is a known fact that people change their behavior to avoid toll roads. This increases traffic on surrounding neighborhood streets and puts throughway users in competition with local street users clogging our neighborhood streets and making them less safe. Tolls on 1604 are a totally unnecessary new tax with damaging economic, social, and health impacts.

TxDOT and MPO documents show that 1604 is NOT a self-sustaining toll road. They already know not enough people can pay the toll to pay for the project entirely, so they have to use over $300 million in YOUR gas taxes to build this project yet you wont’ be able to drive on it without paying tolls, too. So it’s a massive TRIPLE TAX scheme to charge us THREE times to drive on a highway already built and paid for. We’ve already paid for what we on drive today and our gas taxes will help build the tollway, but you’ll have to pay a THIRD tax to use it! TxDOT is saying the options to the public are toll it or NO IMPROVEMENTS. They are not considering the less invasive, more affordable, and less damaging options.

Go to our table outside, get this flyer showing you what happens when they toll existing corridors like they did in CA where these folks now pay over $9 to drive 10 miles or get stuck in horrific gridlock! Sign our petition, get informed and get involved! Donate today to help fund the CITIZENS’ lawsuit that will put a stop to this highway robbery!

7 Responses to “Tollers at final 1604 hearing trample on Martin Luther King’s legacy”

  1. Brooksie A. Smith Says:

    I feel that those who can least afford the toll will be effected by the tolls. Using the MLK holiday to undermind the very citizens that cannot afford the tolls. Everytime I think I am electing someone that is right for the job their format changes. Politicians are the biggiest liars and bs sliggers around. No wonder we are in the mess we are in and the world is in hand basket headed to hell.

  2. Esteban Erik Stipnieks Says:

    Ok its time add some farce to the farce so here goes my parody of their insult:

    I had a dream that poor hard working indviduals would be coerced by the state to line the pockets of the wealty and corrupt…their honest toil paying gasoline tax to build lanes that only wealthy can drive!

    I had a dream that Susan Reed would take campaign contributions to make her turn a blind eye to the state law of Texas. She would for the sake of a campaign contribution ignore her sacred duty to the poor and the weak.

    I had a dream that a state agency whoose mission was to provide the greatest value for tax dollars would for sake it and become instead the lap dog of those very businesses they were supposed to watch with the due dilligence of Police Dog

    Let me tell you brothers and sisters my legacy in 2000 will be abused by those who seek to use my name to embezzle money they can not earn through honest toil themselves….my father if he does not bring them to knowledge of Jesus Christ on this side shall surely punish them on the otherside for slandering the name of faithful service. My good name which demanded a goverment responsible to the people will be perverted by those who want to use the goverment as tool to extort money they can not earn themselves! My good name will be used by goverment officials who do not wish to serve but rather would love to be served. My good name will be used by the theif and extorter who is incapable of producing goods of value to be traded honestly with there fellow man. My daddy whom I now with with will deal with such men who reveal the sin nature of all men. I can only ask that you pray that they be brought to the knowledge of my savior on the side of the living rather then face his unmitigated and rightous rath on the other. Perhaps if they come to know my savior they will understand that they are to seek first the kingdom of God and his rightousness and all these things shall be added…if the highway lobby can not produce roads of value to the taxpayer they do not deserve one red cent that the hard working men produce. If however such highwayman produce good lanes at a good price our mighty God will provide a living for them a business for them but first they have to seek his ways!

  3. Ray Callahan Says:

    Has anyone thought of starting a drive to put the toll issue up to the voters? If the owners of this state vote ALL tolls down, there will be no tolls. How difficult is that? It’s been done successfully before on other issues.

  4. Gary Cain Says:

    How do we set-up a vote on tolls? Just say the word and I’ll vote ‘NO’.
    I heard something about some commission approving some 80 different projects for tolling – does anyone know where these projects are – wondering if any are in east Texas.
    I won’t drive to a city if it requires me to pay tolls so good-bye SA or Austin on getting my vacation dollars.

  5. Sandy Says:

    I live off 1604. I have traveled it to and from college when it was two-lane with stop signs and watched the creation of the four lanes. I also travel this road to work. People who cannot afford tolls will be a) moving out of this area (so much for diverse society) , or b) overcrowding the free lanes or overcrowding IH 35 to make it to work in the mornings now. (This is going to further overburden that highway which will probably be next for tolling.)

    I have also noticed for a number of years a stockpiling of bridge supports outside of Randolph AFB. The only time this pile was added to or had supports removed was when the four lane construction under IH 10 heading toward Houston and 1604 was made into a four lane intersection with traffic signals. Have my tax dollars already paid for these? Will I be paying tolls and more taxes to pay for them again?

    I have little confidence in the Texas Department of Transportation’s ability to design a highway that can accomodate traffic appropriately. I bring your attention to 281 and 1604 which has traffic signals and backs traffic up onto the highway. Look how much money was wasted by not orginally designing that as a cloverleaf.

    This whole political process and wielding of power of elected officials going against the will of the people needs to be stopped. It’s time to recall some elected officials or at least vote against them if they fail to listen to our voiced

    Why is a certain construction firm so powerful in this process? I guess there must not be a bidding of the contracts if this construction has such influence with TxDOT, and most likely will get the job.

  6. Martha Says:

    Yes, McCombs, Krier, Marty Wender–the whole turn-SA-into-LA crowd is out in force again. After shoving through the Cagnon-Kendall power line across the recharge to increase population density near Helotes, they want to expand State Highway 211 to a third loop so as to intensify development in the Hill Country over the recharge, and then they will toll all the roads so the people they have lured away from the city with their rapacious development can’t afford to commute. It’s rape pure and simple. As long as we buy the lies of a “world class city” from this group of thieves, we open ourselves up to their abuse. Responsible development, an end of cronyism, and boycotting their businesses are all that will help.

  7. Michael Schwab Says:

    I just sent my email. Who else is taking action? All I’ve gotten so far is an out-of-office reply on this.

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