February 25, 2005
Yet another toll road through a residential area proposed

Boy, that Houston-Galveston Area Council 2025 Regional Transportation Plan sure is a gift that keeps on giving, isn't it? I've got a note from Andrea Warren, the Public Relations Committee Chair for the Oak Forest Homeowner's Association, informing me that the latest proposal is a toll road from Tomball to 610 at TC Jester, cutting through the Oak Forest neighborhood along the BNSF rail line. From Andrea's email:

The issue at hand is the idea of a 4 lane toll road where the BNSF rail line is now. That is the rail line that actually goes though Oak Forest, crosses 43rd at Mangum and borders the southern edge of Oak Forest. This is a highly residential area as you know. This proposed toll way would run all the way to Tomball bringing commuter though the heart of Oak Forest.

At the Citizens' Transportation Coalition (CTC) meeting last Thursday the toll roads were the featured topic. The CTC has put together a draft document that outlines that we as Houston resident's should approve all toll roads proposed to enter the City of Houston city limits. In order for this to happen, we will need the state legislature to pass a bill. In order for that to happen, we need to press or state reps and state senators about getting this legislation. It seems that the city itself was caught somewhat unaware about this bit of the HGAC 2025 document in that the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) does not need the approval of the city to build a toll road through it. I encourage you to attend their meetings, see their website [for details].

In addition to this, HCTRA will be announcing in the coming months that it will have the financing for the new toll roads. We need to act quickly and decisively. The CTC and neighborhood groups will be convening on city hall in the next few weeks to ask the council to approve this proposal allowing for city residents to vote on the measure. The hope is that with the city government accepting it, it will significantly legitimize it.

Apart from the passage of a bill from the state, or an amendment to vote on, pressure will need to be applied from us, the taxpayers and residents to the Harris County Commissioner's Court, specifically Judge Eckels and Precinct One Commissioner Jerry Eversole.

We are in the process of scheduling a "town hall" format meeting with the HGAC, Harris County, the City of Houston, the Harris County Toll Road Authority and neighborhood groups for the northwest region at either Waltrip or Scarborough HS. We hope we will get some questions answered, as well as voice our opposition to these new road proposals, the toll road in particular.

This meeting will unfortunately convene before the next scheduled newsletter, so we will be sending a special mailing to everyone in Oak Forest outlining what is happening, how to get involved, and where and when this meeting is going to be, so be looking for it and tell your neighbors.

The OFHA is currently in the process of making a section of the website where you can get all the info you need.

The particulars of the bill the CTC wants to pass, which they've asked State Rep. Martha Wong and State Sen. Kyle Janek to sponsor, are on the main page of their website. If we've learned anything in the past couple of months, it's that the next toll road may be coming through your own neighborhood, so stay on top of this and support the CTC's proposal to give localities a say in that development. I'll pass on info of the town hall meeting when I get it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 25, 2005 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack