Thursday, August 2, 2007

Toll or tax?

Have you ever been told that toll roads are needed in Texas? In my opinion, they are not. Toll roads are designed to profits TxDOT, while putting an immense taxation on hard-working Texans. Governor Perry had asked the Texas Department of Transportation to develop new ways to finance the roadways. This is the first step to call for pro-toll legislation which allows more power for TxDOT. The information on toll way being the only solution to creating and improving Texas roadways is misleading.

Many of the toll roads use pre-existing roads such as Highway 290, 71, and 183. These roads have always been free and should remain as free roads. Majority of Texas residents have the misconception that TxDOT is operating with their interests at heart, but that is not the case. Millions of taxpayers’ dollars goes to the agency but yet we don’t know where it all went. There are still many roads that have never been improved. In addition to that, TxDOT keep requesting more and more money.

Officials had promised citizens that there will be no new taxes, but if toll fees not taxes then what is. And yet, government officials are pushing for more toll ways. According to the 2004 plan, any existing roads set to become toll roads would have free frontage roads built alongside. This not only won’t improve the condition of traffic, it would produce extra congestion. If the pre-existing freeways are turned into toll ways, it would be the same as demanding drivers to pay a toll on roads that were built before by their tax dollars.

Therefore, I believe that Texas citizens should stand up against any more pro-toll proposals. We shouldn’t have to pay toll on something we have built with our tax dollars before. And last of all, we have every right to know where our tax dollars go and who really benefits from it.


KSeago said...

Interesting. Would you be willing to pay higher taxes without toll roads? Some justify toll roads by saying the only ones being taxed are those using the roads. Others say roads are a public good and should be paid for by all.

louhow said...

Something struck me as odd when reading through this post. You mentioned how toll roads often use previous highways, and you explicitly cite Highway 290. I am from Houston and have traveled on this road many times, and 290 is never used as a toll road, it goes downtown from the West where it ends at the inner 610 loop, never once costing a penny.

As far as I know, Houston has 2 toll roads, the Beltway and the Hardy Toll Road. The
Beltway is just a giant circle around Houston, and the Hardy Toll Road simply runs from the North parallel to I-45 and 59 towards downtown. The reason for me pointing out the physical relation of these roads is to illustrate that these roads are not required to get anywhere in Houston. That's the point of toll roads, to alleviate traffic, but not to serve as necessary routes of transportation. The toll is an effective way of charging those who use the roads the most.

Because these roads are not used by everyone, why should everybody have to pay taxes for these roads? As we learned, the legislature is required to spell out where all state funds go, and if one were properly motivated enough, you could look up where all of our tax money goes.

In this issue, it's very important to note what our two alternatives are to not having tolls. We can either A) increase a general tax, or B) apply a gasoline tax. While I'm sure many Texans may be upset over toll fees, I'm almost positive that the last thing a Texan wants to see is gas prices go up one more red cent. Also, both of these solutions blanket citizens that may have nothing to do with the cost or usage of these roads.

One last thing to note is that toll road contracts are given out to private investors, not a public sector company. Because of this, there's a profit to be had. A great read as to why private companies win out these bids is illustrated here.