By DARWIN BONDGRAHAM | November/December 2012
This article is from the November/December 2012 issue of Dollars & Sense magazine.
In 1995, California granted a private company the right to construct express toll lanes along the State Route 91 freeway in Orange County, a region inhabited by millions, with some of the heaviest traffic flows in the nation. This was the first modern privatized highway in the United States. The California Private Transportation Company (CPTC), a partnership of three corporations—Level 3 Communications, Granite Construction, Inc., and the French toll operator Cofiroute SA—completed the project with $130 million in mostly privately sourced money. To recoup this expense, and to make a profit, CPTC was given a 35-year concession to operate the toll route. State leaders promised that the private company would provide greater efficiency and savings, and that the public would benefit from clear and safe roads, even during a time of government budget constraints.
Toll roads are speculative debt bombs in the worst case scenario, and unaccountable slush funds, in the best case scenario (when they actually cash flow and have excess revenue, that is). Either way, people who care about responsible fiscal policy and freedom to travel should want none of them. This article ought to make every Texan hopping mad!
Toll road authority doubles as bank for county
By Mike Morris | December 1, 2012 | Updated: December 3, 2012 1:59pm
The Harris County toll road system is many things: The route to work for thousands of area commuters; a 120-mile colossus of engineering and concrete; and the growing region's best hope, members of Commissioners Court say, to ease traffic congestion.
It also has become a cash cow, collecting nearly $520 million in tolls a year.
Arguably, the toll road authority's most crucial role is that of a bank.
Toll revenues have covered a $26.3 million debt for the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, paid $33.5 million to clear debris and repair roads after Hurricane Ike, sped project approvals with $4.9 million for the county's Public Infrastructure Department and bridged temporary shortfalls in the county's general fund.
Virginia enters into design-build public private partnership with Cintra to build a new stretch of Hwy 460 as a tollway
Bloomberg reported it here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 20, 2012
Governor McDonnell Announces That Commonwealth Signs Comprehensive Agreement and Reaches Financial Close to Build the New Route 460 in Southeast Virginia
Project to greatly improve transportation, create thousands of jobs and have a multi-billion dollar economic impact
RICHMOND - Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that the Commonwealth has reached a commercial and financial close with US 460 Mobility Partners (a partnership of Ferrovial Agroman, S.A. and American Infrastructure) and the Route 460 Funding Corporation of Virginia to finance, design and build a new 55-mile section of U.S. Route 460 in southeastern Virginia. Project development begins immediately for the new $1.4 billion roadway, which has been a top transportation priority locally, regionally and statewide for nearly a decade. The project was developed to address roadway deficiencies, improve safety, accommodate increasing freight shipments and reduce travel delays among many other needs.
TxDOT sees tollway profits just around the bend
By Ben Wear
Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012
News flash: Our local toll roads could all be profitable by 2014.
If only it were that simple.
I got a call the other day from Terri Hall, an anti-toll road activist from the San Antonio area. She had just met with Texas Department of Transportation officials, and they had shared with her the startling news that their system of four tollways in and around Austin would reach profitability by the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year. Hall was skeptical.
Link to story here.
Oregon officials propose per-mile tax for gas sippers
By The Associated Press Published: Jan 2, 2013
SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Oregon state officials are proposing an alternative tax for drivers who have bought efficient or electric vehicles that seldom or never stop at the gasoline pump, where government has traditionally collected money to build and fix roads.
But the auto-making industry calls the idea of mileage taxes another roadblock for its efficient vehicles, the Salem Statesman Journal reports.
Editorial:Lawmakers must get serious about Texas highways
Dallas Morning News
December 16, 2012
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has been saying he wants a “serious” lawmaking session next year to address the state’s basics, transportation being high on his list.
A stiff test will be lawmakers’ willingness to get serious about paying the true cost of building and keeping up the state’s 80,000-mile roadway network, the nation’s largest. They haven’t been serious for years, acting like tenants with lame excuses to the landlord for falling behind on the rent.
Dallas-area transit officials compile legislative wish lists
Agencies hope to clear way for projects
BY TOM BENNING
Dallas Morning News
December 17, 2012
North Texas transit officials are compiling their legislative wish lists as they wait for the next session of the Legislature to begin in January.
While much of the transportation policy talk in Austin is expected to center on funding and perennial hot-button issues like red-light cameras and texting while driving, the 140-day session is also critical to advancing the region’s broader mobility goals.
Caddell: Three-quarters say America no longer run by consent of governed
By Terri Hall
January 7, 2013
Tonight, Pat Caddell, committed Democrat and political film consultant, received a standing ovation from a room full of Texas conservatives. Women on the Wall hosted an awards banquet honoring Texas women activists on the eve of the Texas legislature convening in Austin, and Caddell headlined the event.
He perfectly articulated what’s broken in politics today: government no longer operates by the consent of the governed, it’s rigged against the ordinary citizen by lobbyists, special interests, and corruption, and as a Gallop poll announced today, two-thirds of Americans believe Congress cares more about retaining their power, even to the detriment of the country, than they do about serving and preserving the country.
See a map of the Trans Texas Corridor & all the NAFTA trade corridors here.
Trans Texas Corridor commences despite opposition
By Terri Hall
January 6, 2013
When Jerry Corsi talks, people listen. Corsi’s recent column on the revival of the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) gave national attention to what Texans have been warning for a decade -- that despite Texas-sized opposition and claims of its demise by Texas Governor Rick Perry and his Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the Trans Texas Corridor is quietly being built piece by piece. The Texas Transportation Commission just awarded a public private partnership (P3), known in Texas as a Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA), for a segment of Interstate 35E between Dallas and Denton County at its last meeting.
The award for I-35E followed on the heels of the Commission’s award of a CDA for I-35W to Spain-based Cintra as part of the Master Development Plan for the North Tarrant Express in October. Both projects relate to Perry’s original Trans Texas Corridor vision of building a 4,000-mile network of international trade corridors four football fields wide using P3s, to include toll roads, toll commuter and freight rail, utilities, telecommunication lines, and pipelines of all sorts, developed and operated by private, even foreign, corporations free of competition for a half century.
Link to review here.
Last great interstate a NAFTA highway fraught with controversy
By Terri Hall
December 18, 2012
With the end of 2012 marking the 20th anniversary of NAFTA, it’s instructive to take a fresh look at the book that chronicles that battle over the last interstate highway -- a NAFTA superhighway -- yet to be built - Interstate 69, The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway by Matt Dellinger.
Dellinger credits David Graham, grandson of a railroad magnate and son of an auto manufacturer in Southern Indiana whose family farm and businesses made them legendary in their small community for decades, with the idea of building an interstate highway connecting Evansville with Indianapolis. That little idea that started over breakfast with some of Graham’s influential friends grew into a NAFTA superhighway concept in short order. Absent federal funding, an interstate through southwest Indiana was a non-starter, but connect that idea to a larger intercontinental highway connecting the busiest trade crossings in Canada with those in Mexico, and now you’ve got six other states and a plethora of economic interests joining Indiana in the quest for not only funding, but also a whole new trade corridor that will transform North America.
Link to article here.
Fourth in a four-part series. See the first article with interactive map here. See the second article on why the state is moving toward tolling here. Read the third article on more cities turning to tolling here.
Tolling Texans: Impact of Trans Texas Corridors lingers
By Aman Batheja
December 3, 2012
Nearly 11 years ago, Gov. Rick Perry offered a vision for Texas that was covered in toll roads.
At a news conference in Austin, Perry delivered the first of hundreds of pitches for the Trans-Texas Corridor, a 4,000-mile network of privately operated toll roads, railroad tracks and utility lines that would stretch across the state. The projected timeline for the project: roughly 50 years. The price tag: $175 billion.
With just a year as governor under his belt, Perry proposed the most expensive transportation project in the country. As originally planned, it could have redirected national trade routes, sparked development across rural Texas and provided a big boost to public transit.
“Some might ask, ‘Is this too big?’” Perry said at the time. “I say nothing is too big for Texas when our economic security, our environment and our quality of life are at stake.”
- Tolling Texans: More cities plan toll lanes
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- New Chair won't rule out gas tax hike
- Time to re-think VA's public-private transportation act
- Cato scholar slams street car as obsolete 'fantasy'
- Government waste taking us off fiscal cliff
- TxDOT cashes-in by slowing free routes
- Big exec pay-outs despite Aussie's failing toll road
- NAFTA leaders push to deepen integration with Mexico, Canada
- NAFTA cargo to get inspection-free border crossings
- Public interest group cautions against Ohio turnpike lease
- Spanish firms dominate toll road market
- Texans to boycott first foreign-owned toll road
- HOV policy changes to benefit private tollway
- England quietly plans new round of road tolls
- Perry's budget compact should dictate adjustment to gas tax
- Spain's highway bubble: Empty highways lead to bankruptcy
- Texas first foreign-owned tollway now hog alley
- America's fastest road officially open
- Another P3 for Virginians, $7 a day in new taxes
- Congestion tolling comes to Indonesia
- Study: Indiana Toll Road intergenerational transfer of wealth
- Romney advisers pushing tolls and P3s
- Perry finally calls for end to gas tax diversions
- Davis accused of conflicts of interest with toll agency
- Alamo RMA gets a free pass... AGAIN!
- Cintra nabs US 460 in Virginia
- George Will: 'Too big to fail' needs to stop
- Romney seeks advice from Bush staffers on roads
- Book: Corporations are crippling American prosperity
- Cintra gets its claws on I-35 in DFW
- TxDOT gets $100 million pay-off for 85 MPH speed limit
- SH 130 toll road to open Nov. 11
- Tolls coming to MoPac, project gets clearance
- Is 85 MPH too fast? Trucks may avoid SH 130 toll road
- Study: Public transit can't work without punishing drivers
- Free gas: Contest to name toll lanes on LBJ, Interstate 820
- Judge gives foreign company eminent domain to build Keystone Pipeline in Texas
- Lockhart hopes to cash-in on foreign-owned toll road
- Sordid tale behind 85 MPH speed limit gets more offensive
- Lawsuit challenges Ohio public private partnerships
- Spinning its wheels? TxDOT to outsource maintenance when first try a failure
- Cintra lobbyist now in hot water for Medicaid fraud
- I-95 HOT lane project guarantees gridlock for our lifetimes
- Tolls galore: Plans to toll 183 in Austin
- TxDOT exec Wilson calls tolls 'freedom'
- Cintra markets SH 130 in San Antonio
- Texas SH 130 now 85 MPH, fastest speed in the nation
- TxDOT slows free routes alongside SH 130 tollway
- Tolls set to go up on Austin toll roads - disabled vets will get a free pass
- Putting lipstick on the P3 pig - 'availability payments'
- Loop 1604 could be handed to private toll operator for 50 years
- TX lawmakers vote to sell-off 20 roads to private entities
- Highway Trust Fund needs to be cut 92%?
- VA Residents protest toll lanes on I-395
- Reasons to be wary of public private partnerships
- Legislators pass law to use property tax to build TOLL roads
- Trans Texas Corridor update: Hwy 59 gets I-69 designation
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Latest Press Releases
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