Toll Road Bill Rolls On
May 23, 2007
We’re hearing conflicting rumors at the
SB 792, the toll-road measure that’s
supposed to provide some oversight over private
development deals with multinational
corporations, such as Cintra Concesiones.
source in the House told us this morning that
Governor Ricky has succeeded in getting an
amendment by state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst stripped
from the bill. Amendment 13, as you will recall,
would close a loophole that would allow the
Trans-Texas Corridor to proceed.
But that doesn’t mean the hated network of
super-corridors will actually be allowed to go
forward. John Carona, the Dallas Republican who
chairs the Senate Transportation and Homeland
Security Committee and has played a major role
in drafting the toll-road legislation, said he’s
confident that language in the bill will make it
clear that TTC cannot proceed while the two-year
moratorium is in effect.
“The negotiations are still going on,” said
Carona. “I remain optimistic that we will reach
an agreement in the next 24 hours.”
Carona said that he saw no support for a
movement to override Ricky’s veto of
HB 1892, which is very similar to the
measure that’s still in play. Any over-ride
effort, Carona cautioned, would almost certainly
lead to a special session and no one wants that.
When all’s said and done, the bill’s so
loaded with “carve-outs,” or road projects that
are exempt from the two-year moratorium, that it
seems like a shell. But a few good provisions
remain. The non-compete clauses have been scaled
back, the contract lengths curtailed to 50 years
or less, and buy-back provisions have been added
that will protect the state from paying
gazillions for roads.
In the process, TxDot and its imperious
chairman, Ric Williamson, have been badly
mauled. Hopefully the department and its
high-level operatives have learned some humility
and will go out of their way to be more
cooperative with the public and with local
officials. And the bill itself cedes a lot of
authority to local governments to decide what
roads will be built.
That said, the Lege did nothing to solve the
underlying problem, which is traffic congestion.
So it might be worthwhile to think about that
the next time you’re sitting in your car, alone,