May 25, 2007
Weakened toll road moratorium finally passes

This is definitely not what we thought we were going to get out of a toll road moratorium. It may be the best we could have done, but if so that's pretty sad.

Texas lawmakers struck a deal Thursday on transportation legislation that includes a two-year moratorium on private company toll roads, although the agreement does not satisfy anti-toll road groups.

House and Senate leaders reached agreement on a compromise plan that likely will reach both chambers for a vote on Saturday.

"What we've got is pretty good but maybe not perfect," said Rep. Wayne Smith, R-Baytown, who led the House negotiators.

The compromise legislation, Senate Bill 792, does not affect six road construction projects for the Harris County Toll Road Authority, and it also allows the Dallas-Fort Worth region to proceed with highways already in the pipeline. The moratorium prohibits two private toll road projects in San Antonio.

The bill also would avoid a veto override effort of another transportation bill, HB 1892. Gov. Rick Perry rejected that measure and helped develop the alternative plan.


Senate Bill 792 "is not only full of loopholes, but it makes things worse. (It) allows local authorities the same powers we were trying to take away from" state transportation officials, said Sal Costello, leader of People for Efficient Transportation.

The main problem with SB792 is the removal of the Kolhorst Amendment. I'll refer you to Eye on Williamson, who's been exhaustively following this, for the details - see here, here, here, and here. As he notes, Governor Perry could still veto this, and we could still have a special session on transportation. Scary thoughts, but there you have them.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 25, 2007 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

SB 792 allows local authorites to do what we were trying to stop TxDOT from doing. It creates mini TxDOT's that will sell our freeways to private companies (as toll roads) and it also contains 'market valuations' which equals the highest possible tolls.

Sal Costello

Posted by: Sal Costello on May 25, 2007 2:47 PM