The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Tollways In SA

Seems everyone's getting a little bit testy on the idea of tollroads in SA:

State transportation officials have pushed San Antonio leaders, treated them rudely and ignored them, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff charged Tuesday.

But that said, it's best to try to work with the Texas Department of Transportation on toll road plans and strike the best deal for the community, Wolff said as county commissioners debated whether to hold back funds from its local toll road agency.

"Let's give it a chance," Wolff said. "But let me tell you, I'm not going to be run over from some guy with a big ego from TxDOT."

Commissioners will decide whether to lend the year-old Alamo Regional Mobility Authority $500,000 for the upcoming fiscal year when they pass their annual budget. They've already advanced the authority $750,000 and the city has lent $500,000.

Commissioner Lyle Larson, who says he's been ostracized by Gov. Rick Perry for opposing state toll road plans, is trying to cut the authority's funding.

"I don't know what kind of Kool-Aid's being sloshed around Austin," he said. "But let me tell you, people are opposed to this."

Larson claims the state asked the county to form the authority just to have a shield against angry motorists. The authority is bureaucratic deadwood, he said, because state officials insist on deciding how to handle private proposals to build the city's first 47 miles of toll roads.

"What's the purpose (of the authority)?" he asked. "It's very difficult for me to understand."

Mobility authority Chairman Bill Thornton said those are fair questions that should be asked all the time. He also said there had been little communication from TxDOT since April, when a private consortium proposed taking over the first toll roads in San Antonio.

Larson's probably right on this, although it'll be interesting to see where the other three County Commissioners come down on this debate.