Saturday, September 01, 2007
pay to drive?
Some powerful elected officials say they strongly oppose a Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) effort included in the agency's federal lobbying plan. The effort asks Congress to allow the state of Texas to buy segments of the Interstate system and turn them into toll roads. The Texas Department of Transportation says the agency included this idea in it's Congressional lobbying plan in January as an option for replacing federal highway dollars, which are declining. Experts at the legislature say behind the scenes opposition to the issue erupted publicly following several news reports. Now U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison says she opposes the concept because it would force Texans who financed road construction with tax dollars to pay again with tolls if they want to drive on the same highways. Texas Senator John Carona calls the recommendation dreadful and predicts state legislators will take action. Chris Lippincott is a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation. He says if Congress approves the idea local governments will still have the final say. Sound:19Oucue: or here at homeBut legislative staffers say it is unclear whether current state statutes would guarantee local governments the power to prevent existing interstates from becoming toll roads.