TxDOT sticks to toll roads or no roads agenda

TxDOT sticks to toll roads or no roads agenda
If you tell a lie long enough, it’s eventually accepted as truth. That’s what attendees of the Texas Transportation Forum hosted by the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) were expected to buy into at Tuesday’s gathering pertaining to the myths of tolling. TxDOT has been criticized by the public over the last decade for promoting its doctrine of toll roads or no roads. After several attempts at re-making the agency and trying to convince a skeptical public that it’s changed, the leopard hasn’t changed his spots and it’s back to its old toll roads mantra at this year’s forum. On the heels of announcing an $825 million toll plan for San Antonio, TxDOT continues to hold road funds hostage to tolling.TxDOT brought in some big names today – Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Con. John Delaney of Maryland who touted his bill to create an infrastructure revolving fund utilizing more debt that has to be repaid with tolls or new taxes, and even a surprise unannounced visit from Texas Gov. Rick Perry. But TxDOT, who’s apparently formally joined at the hip with Reason Foundation and the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA), hosted a session entitled “Tolling: An Unfolding Transportation Success Story” that attempted to sing the praises of tolling that included outright false information and calls for tolling to become the funding mechanism for roads to replace the gas tax in the future. TxDOT lobbied for higher taxes with its annual forum as the mechanism while using taxpayer money to do it.

The Reason Foundation and IBTTA panelists were joined by the North Texas Tollway attorney and all three made statements about tolling that simply aren’t true. For instance, the claim tolls are a user fee and only those who use the road pay for the road. In Texas, virtually all toll roads are now being subsidized with gas tax, sales tax or property tax revenues or other public funds – whether the Texas Mobility Fund, Prop 12, Prop 14, or federal loans or stimulus funds. This also affirms tolls are double taxation, and in Texas, the toll can stay in place in perpetuity. So the way tolls are being implemented in the 21st century it’s become a permanent tax. The toll advocates even said the aim is permanent, ongoing revenue generation. So the ‘user fee’ myth is squarely busted by their own admission.

Another argument contended tolls are tailored to highway cost. There is no way that’s a truthful statement when most toll projects being done today, especially in Texas, are not toll viable and cannot be repaid with toll users alone. So costs are passed onto all taxpayers through public subsidies or taxpayer guarantees. In addition…Continued here: http://watchdogwire.com/texas/2014/01/09/txdot-sticks-to-toll-roads-or-no-roads-agenda/

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