1 Mar 2010, 12:30pm
Gas taxes Toll roads:
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Governors’ transpo planks

Well over a month ago now, I critiqued Kay Bailey Hutchison’s transportation policy plank of her gubernatorial platform.¬† I had intended to review the other candidate’s proposals soon thereafter, but alas, got sidetracked.¬† With the primary elections tomorrow, I thought it might be time to finally get to it.¬† ūüôā

The candidates’ (major candidates only)¬†policy statements¬†are evaluated in order of their current polling numbers, Republicans first.

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Kay’s transportation vision less than 20/20

Kay Bailey HutchisonFor the past week or so, I’ve been watching the drama unfold as Kay Bailey Hutchison announced the transportation plank¬†of her platform for governor and the ensuing television ad and Rick Perry’s counter-ad.¬† The use of the DMS signs was clever, but her message shows a both continuing lack of understanding of the core¬†issues on her part as well as a bit of a dichotomy.

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15 Jan 2010, 12:30pm
Construction and closures Roads Toll roads:
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Terri’s at it again (part 2 of 2)

In yesterday’s post, I took aim at the alleged¬†“egregious fiscal malfeasance” that local toll-opponent Terri Hall accused ARMA of with regards to their plans for a US 281/Loop 1604 interchange.¬† Today, I’ll take her to task on her claims of “unequal application of the law” with regards to the environmental studies required for the interchange versus those for 281 north of 1604.

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Terri’s at it again (part 1 of 2)

This past Monday, the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (ARMA) held a public meeting to show their plans for the US 281/Loop 1604 interchange.¬† The interchange is being funded primarily with federal economic stimulus funds and therefore will be built toll-free, but that’s not enough for local outspoken toll-opponent Terri Hall.¬† She had a lot to say about the project on her MySA.com blog yesterday.¬† I¬†submitted a response to it last night, but as she has to approve it, it hasn’t been posted yet.¬†¬†(But I’m not really surprised.)¬† So I’m going to respond to her here on my turf.¬† Because her comments went all over the map, I’m going to break this response up into two posts: one about the costs of the interchange (today), and one about the environmental clearance it is getting (tomorrow).

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MPO approves long-range plan; Tommy starts to get it

As reported here last week, the San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) policy board was scheduled to vote on the¬†“Mobility 2035” long-range regional¬†plan yesterday.¬† Toll opponents were angry because the plan included numerous projects in three corridors (I-35 North, Loop 1604, and I-10 West) pigeon-holed as toll-concession projects, also known as¬†Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA) projects.¬† As I explained previously, because current projections show little to no gas-tax funds being available during the time span of the plan, those projects had to have creative funding¬†“placeholders” assigned to them in order to continue¬†planning work on them, those placeholders¬†being CDAs.

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TURF: “MPO rams 37 toll projects down San Antonians‚Äô throats”

Mobility 2035During my daily review of transportation news, I came across this the-sky-is-falling press release by staunch toll-opponent Terri Hall and her TURF organization.¬† As usual, TURF shows a continued lack of¬†insight of what’s actually happening and peppers the article with their predictable array of tried-and-true rhetoric, fallacies, and mendacities as they¬†denounce the large number of projects that are listed as possible toll and Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA) projects in the new 25-year regional transportation plan.¬† Yes, there are¬†a substantial number of toll-option projects in the plan.¬† However, the outright panic by TURF is premature and demonstrates their failure to see and comprehend¬†the bigger picture and actually jeopardizes¬†badly-needed future projects.

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The man who doesn’t get it

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about ‚Äúthe man who gets it‚ÄĚ, that man being state Senator John Carona of Dallas, who understands our current transportation funding¬†crisis enough to risk political suicide by suggesting an increase in the state’s gas tax to fix it (the correct solution in my not-so-humble opinion.)¬† Today,¬†I’m going to write about the¬†person who has shown once again to be deserving of the¬†title of ‚Äúthe man who just doesn’t get it‚ÄĚ: Tommy Adkisson, the current chairman of the San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) policy board.

As you may recall,¬†Adkisson was the official¬†instigator of a vote¬†in October¬†to drop the toll option¬†from¬†the MPO’s¬†plans regarding¬†future US 281 and Loop 1604 projects.¬† That¬†proposal went down in flames¬†when the MPO board voted 13-5 against it, mainly because it had no objective engineering study to support it, something¬†even an amateur elected official would realize is essential to¬†substantiate your case.¬† Even the San Antonio Express-News editorial board labeled¬†his actions¬†‚Äúerratic and ill-considered‚ÄĚ.¬† I, however,¬†was willing to let Tommy off the hook for this boondoggle since it was obvious that outspoken toll opponent¬†Terri Hall was the real culprit pulling the strings behind the scenes and I believed¬†he just didn’t understand what he was getting himself into.¬† His¬†declaration after the vote that he was done with toll road issues and wanted to move on to more substantive discussions, such as mass transit, also led me to believe that he was sincerely¬†jaded on the whole 281 debacle.

But obviously not.

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19 Nov 2009, 12:30pm
Toll roads:
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Comments Off on I’ve got an idea: just build overpasses!

I’ve got an idea: just build overpasses!

Overpasses on I-10 at Medical

(Note: Significant edits were made to this posting at about 5:25pm on 11/19/09.  The edits consisted of polishing the wording; the gist of the information was not changed.)

Several recent letters to the editor in the San Antonio Express-News have presented what their writers obviously consider to be an epiphany to solving the problems on US 281 North: just build some overpasses!

Wow, what a great idea!!!¬† Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before??

Well, they have.

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18 Nov 2009, 12:30pm
Roads Toll roads:
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Who put the “free” in “freeway”?

freewayEntrance

The motto of San Antonio toll road opponents is “Keep our FREEways free!”¬† However, the term freeway doesn’t really mean that it’s free to drive on.¬† Now admittedly my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary has¬†“a toll-free highway” as its second definition for freeway.¬† But that use is purely¬†colloquial and can lead to a lot of misunderstandings when talking about toll roads.¬† Besides, if that was the true definition of a freeway, then the little residential street in front of¬†most of our homes¬†would be a “freeway”, and we all instinctively know that that’s just not the case.

So then, just what is the definition of a freeway?

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6 Nov 2009, 5:00pm
Gas taxes Roads Toll roads
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Beating a dead horse (toll road genesis Part Deux)

nagIn my last post, I discussed how toll roads came to be the funding option of choice in recent years for big road projects.  The question I closed with was whether or not they’re the best solution, and if not, how to fund roadbuilding without them.  As I alluded to, it’s really a chicken-and-egg scenario: do toll roads perpetuate the status quo, or does the status quo perpetuate toll roads?

My wife and I have had this conversation several times.¬† She understands the problem, but is of the mind that tolls should be the option of absolute last resort‚ÄĒthey need to fix the gas tax problems first.¬† In essence, she thinks that the current toll paradigm is getting the cart before the horse.

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