The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Toll Road Debate Heats Up

A little late on this, but local anti-toll advocates got a bit of a reprieve late last week when the US-281 toll road contract was canceled:

The Texas Department of Transportation has canceled an $84 million contract with Zachry Construction Corp. for the construction of toll lanes on U.S 281 north of Loop 1604, pending the outcome of additional environmental studies.

The agency said Friday that if no significant environmental findings emerge from the new study and the project's design does not change, it will be re-bid by the summer of 2007, with construction beginning that fall.

It would be completed in 2010 instead of 2008 as previously planned, at an additional cost of $8 million.

If the study determines that a full Environmental Impact Statement needs to be conducted, it could take up to five years to make a final decision on the project, delaying completion on the Loop 1604 to Stone Oak Parkway section from 2014 to 2019, TxDOT said in a statement.

That means that with the extra time, should anyone but Rick Perry get elected in 2006, there's a good chance we could put the kibosh on this whole toll road crap. Or is there?

We know Chris Bell is against it, Kinky says he's against it, Strayhorn says she's against... but:

“She can’t rewrite history,” said Bell, a Houston Democrat. “As Comptroller, Carole Strayhorn was a forceful advocate for toll roads until it was no longer politically useful. It’s just another example of how Strayhorn and Perry are two sleeves of the same empty suit. Rick takes the wrong position, Carole takes every position, and both hope you don’t notice.”

Though she now says that “as long as there is a breath of air in my lungs … this voice is dead set against toll roads,” Mrs. Strayhorn promoted toll roads as recently as 2001.

At this point and time, Strayhorn just needs to start selling her policy platforms to the highest bidder. And when I say 'start', I mean 'start doing it openly.' Like at an auction or something. Who knows, maybe an obscene amount of money will give her a shot at actually winning this race.

And just so we make sure that every gubernatorial candidate not named Chris Bell gets an equal whupping, let me remind everybody that Kinky Friedman is pro-school prayer, pro-10 commandments in schools, pro-let's build a fence along the border and now wants to give the states' $4.3 billion surplus back to property owners. Not all Texans, just property owners. Which should go over real well with his student outreach.

But that's ok, he's a more entertaining speaker than Chris Bell and a populist railing against the status quo- of which, apparently, Democrats are now a part of even though we hold no state offices, and hold so few seats in the statehouse that we need to resort to the most extreme parliamentary moves to get bills killed- all the while Friedman rakes in hundreds of thousands of dollars from his sugar daddy/"shampoo magnate" who he promises to make Secretary of State. So you should definitely vote for him.

For more local info on toll roads, read this Express-News article.