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10/13/2005
San Antonio Residents Oppose Toll Roads
A new poll shows most San Antonio residents are not in favor of toll roads.

Carole Strayhorn
A poll conducted on behalf of San Antonio, Texas toll road officials reveals that about half of the public is not convinced that tolls are appropriate for the region. The Alamo Regional Mobility Authority commissioned Baselice & Associates to ask 500 residents what they thought of toll roads and about half rejected the idea outright. Only 27 percent agreed that toll roads were the best way to go.

"Put the toll plan to a vote and the [regional mobility authority] will see definitively what voters think about their toll tax scheme," said Terri Hall, a San Antonio representative of the Texas Toll Party. "The fact is TxDOT and the RMA are afraid of a genuine public debate on these issues."

In 2001, Texas voters adopted a Proposition 15 which created a fund that could be used "for financing the construction, reconstruction, acquisition, operation, and expansion of state highways, turnpikes, toll roads, toll bridges, and other mobility projects."

Since then, officials have used that vote as a green light for increased toll road construction. Texas Comptroller Carole Strayhorn suggests that financial ties between public officials and tolling companies has been the driving force behind the policy shift. In March she issued a report blasting the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. "To a surprising extent, this project -- which will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds -- is the product of close collaboration among a handful of individuals, chosen without competition, resulting in the appearance of favoritism and self-enrichment," Strayhorn wrote.

Strayhorn also suggested that because toll roads are a form of taxation, unelected officials should not be able to impose specific tolling plans without a public vote. "The redesignation as toll roads of roads already constructed, under construction or funded through traditional means, such as the gasoline tax, is double taxation," Strayhorn said.



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