Newscoma Has Moved
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
  Pinion To Draft Legislation To Oversee Toll Roads? The Chattanooga Times Free Press is running a story today on Union City Democrat Rep.Philip Pinion of the 77th District.

State seeks alternative funding for roads

By Cliff Hightower Staff Writer
The chairman of Tennessee’s House Transportation Committee said Monday he is drafting legislation that would set up a panel to oversee toll roads and public-private road partnerships statewide. "Right now, there is no toll road commission," said state Rep. Phillip Pinion, D-Union City. "We have to look at toll roads and publicprivate partnerships. We have to look at all alternative funding." The planned legislation comes as state transportation officials struggle with how to raise money to fund public transportation. Tennessee will face transportation funding deficits by 2008 and an accumulated shortfall of $2 billion by 2015, according to the state’s longrange transportation plan. State Department of Transportation officials have said ways the state could afford some road projects are through toll roads, public-private partnerships, indexing the gasoline tax or setting up a state infrastructure bank. "A toll road gives people a choice," Rep. Pinion said. "Virtually all of the states in the South have toll roads."
Your thoughts? Here's a gander at Pinion's website. It seems to be a bit more comprehensive with some usefull information than some from this part of the state that I've seen lately. Do you think people are going to go for toll roads? I know that Pinion is pretty low-key and pretty persuasive. Lots of folks in his district like him. We will see.  
Most Highways Nationwide to be Tolled to Pay for NAFTA Super-Corridors

The massive land grab feature of the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) is also present in other NAFTA Super-Corridors. But, what makes the events in Texas so unique, are how they are related to other issues, and how they will affect all Americans.

The NASCO (North America Supercorridor Coalition) board, which is heavily influenced by Gov. Perry, successfully lobbied to have money for the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) moved “off budget.” It seems as though one of the affects of this Enron-style accounting trick is to force the federal HTF to go broke by 2008.

In August 2005, President Bush and Congress signed into a law a major transportation bill called SAFETEA-LU. One of the provisions of it is to immediately use all money that is expected to be placed into the federal HTF through September 2009. In December the U.S. Chamber of Commerce concluded nearly all funds had been used. The federal HTF will go broke by 2008.

Consider TxDOT Commissioner Ric Williamson's statements, which are not limited to Texas:

"It's either toll roads, slow roads, or no roads." (May 2004)

“ your lifetime most existing roads will have tolls." (October 2004)

It’s clear provisions in SAFETEA-LU, plus lobbying by Gov. Perry via NASCO has been engineered to force the federal HTF into a deficit -- one that will exist for as long as the politicians can get away with it. Therefore, states will no longer receive funding from the federal HTF. (Half of Texas’ DOT budget comes from it.) To make up for that, roads will be tolled.

And there’s more. Texas Gov. Perry and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, who sit on the Texas Bond Review Board, have been trying to use money from Texas Mobility Fund ONLY to fund TOLL roads. The one who has prevented Perry’s travesty is the third member of the board -- Comptroller Strayhorn, who is an independent candidate for governor.

In and around Austin, toll roads have been built, are under construction, or planning to be built. Yet, there are adequate funds to build those roads without levying tolls. (In the San Antonio Business Journal for Oct 27 - Nov 2, there is an article titled "Larson wants lawmakers to keep highway funds on highways." It states that in 2005, $774 million in the Texas State Highway Fund was diverted for non-highway programs, and $9.3 billion has been diverted over the last 20 years.)

The TTC contract had been secret for 17 months. It was made available weeks before the election. One of the secret items in the contract is for Texas to pay for relocating railroad lines -- to the tune of $16 billion. How would that be financed? Toll roads.

So, clearly steps are being taken to force most highways nationwide to be tolled in order to pay for the NAFTA Super-Corridors.
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