Well, this is a surprise.
The chairman of the Senate's transportation panel, despite being one of more than 125 legislators co-sponsoring legislation to shelve private toll road contracts for two years, said Wednesday he won't give the measure a vote in his committee.
"I don't intend to move it," said Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee. Carona has repeatedly criticized Texas Department of Transportation policy and officials in recent months and is among 25 Senate co-sponsors of SB 1267, the moratorium bill by state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville.
Carona is trying to work out a large compromise transportation bill with toll policy supporters and has struck a more conciliatory tone in recent days. Carona aide Steven Polunsky said that although Carona thinks that some sort of controls on private toll road contracts are in order, a two-year freeze might remove the only option available to get some badly needed road projects done.
Carona and his committee, which includes Nichols, spent most of Wednesday afternoon listening to -- and sometimes debating with -- local elected officials from the Dallas-Fort Worth area concerned that a moratorium on such toll road arrangements might delay by several years road work nearly ready to begin.
"To put a moratorium on these projects is like a stake in the heart for many of us," said Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes. "We feel we're going to be very, very damaged."