Skip to comments.Toll roads can relieve congestion, reduce drive-times, professors say
Posted on 11/01/2007 5:54:49 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Coin trays in Texas cars may actually get to see the faces of dead presidents.
The much-discussed and controversial Trans-Texas Corridor, or TTC, has breathed life into the debate of toll roads in Texas.
Plans for the Trans-Texas Corridor include TTC-Instate 35, which starts in Laredo and extends north to Gainesville, running along the eastern part of Texas; and Interstate 69/TCC, which has three openings in Laredo, McAllen and Brownsville and follows the coast to Texarkana.
Much of the TTC will be privately operated toll roads, run by the Spanish firm Cintra.
The TTC will not run through San Antonio, and will just skim the eastern edge of Bexar County.
Political science Professor Christy Woodward-Kaupert said of more significance to San Antonio is the proposed toll road for U.S. Highway 281.
A 17-cent per mile toll for two- and three-axle vehicles was proposed by the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority for the stretch of U.S. Highway 281 between Loop 1604 and Marshall Road that will open in 2012.
Kaupert said toll roads have come about as a solution to poor planning.
The state has been under perpetual construction and the population continues to grow faster than what can be sustained with new construction projects, she said.
Economics Professor Cyril Morong said whenever a free service is provided, such as free roads, supply will not be able to keep up with demand.
This translates to congestion, he said, and having people pay to use certain roads that become congested frequently will relieve congestion.
"I don't think it's a result of poor planning, because you always have rush hours," he said.
People are going to be paying for convenience with toll roads, Kaupert said.
Morong said if a person is driving at a time when congestion is not a factor, the driver does not need to take advantage of the toll service.
Many people are against toll roads, Kaupert said, because they think they are paying for roads they already paid for with taxes.
In 1946, according to the Handbook of Texas, a "good-roads constitutional amendment" was passed that appropriated funds for highways from revenue received from gasoline taxes and vehicle registration along with money from the federal government.
What people do not realize, Morong said, is that people are paying for congestion with their time.
Parents may miss a school recital or Little League game because they were sitting in traffic, he said.
The mileage of a driver's car, he said, is also affected because idling lowers efficiency.
People need to weigh the cost of tolls with the cost of their time and the gas they consume, he said.
Students, who generally do not have the spending power of working adults, can feel this impact even more.
The 2006-07 Fact Book for this campus shows that only 39.4 percent of the student population is employed full-time, with 29.6 percent employed part-time and the remaining 30.9 percent not employed.
Faster drive times for students especially could mean the difference between being late for class and showing up on time, he said.
Kaupert said students living in the Loop 1604 and U.S. Highway 281 area, such as the Stone Oak neighborhood where she lives, will be affected the most.
That area, in the 78258 ZIP code, is ranked fifth in the list of population breakdown for fall 2006 in the Fact Book with 776 residents.
For these residents, Kaupert said, the toll would not be as much of a financial burden as for students on the South Side, for instance.
She said one of the benefits of toll roads is that they can contribute to cutting pollution because they help alleviate congestion.
She said Texas has a problem with clean air compliance, which would affect the federal money Texas receives for highways, further exacerbating the state's troubles.
The state has expanded its Metropolitan Statistical Areas to gain more clean air areas, but more needs to be done, she said.
Morong said drivers, especially students who do not have as much disposable income as the general population, would have more of an incentive to do things they should be doing anyway, such as car pooling and using public transportation, to help counter the cost of the tolls.
Toll roads are one solution to congestion.
Kaupert said Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle bonds, or GARVEE bonds, of which Gov. Rick Perry is a supporter, may be a good idea to pay for future road projects.
GARVEE bonds, she said, are federal highway funds the state anticipates it will have.
She said the state could track where growth is happening and plan for that.
She said people have been moving outside of Loop 1604 and the state knows this from U.S. Census data.
She said people also need to become more involved in government.
A constitutional election will be conducted Nov. 6 with early voting ending today.
The election includes 16 ballot measures. Information on polling locations can be found on the Secretary of State's Web site at www.sos.state.tx.us, or by calling the Bexar County Elections Department at 335-VOTE (8683); polling stations for Election Day will be announced Saturday.
Although it does not address toll roads, Proposition 12 reads, "The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds by the Texas Transportation Commission in an amount not to exceed $5 billion to provide funding for highway improvement projects."
Kaupert said constitutional amendment elections have less than a 10 percent turnout, and that older people usually vote in high numbers.
The Secretary of State's Web site shows that constitutional elections reach more than 10 percent in rare occasions, such as the special November 2005 election that featured Proposition 2, the amendment that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman.
Turnout for that election was 17.97 percent for registered voters and 13.82 percent for the voting age population.
Trans-Texas Corridor PING!
By the way, Cintra is only a certainty for the first 316-mile portion of TTC-35.
What nutty analogy...toll roads actually increase congestion because most will still use the non-toll road...esp local truck traffic because those vehicles are charged more.
Bunch of nonsense to justify building the NAFTA Superhiway to move cheap Commie Chinese crap through Mexico
I’d like to know what the Texas Dept of Transportation has been doing with all the money they’ve collected over the years. They probably spent it on hair spray for Governor Good Hair, Rick Perry.
......and free up cash for roads.
Trust me. $.17/mile is only the opening rate. Before you know it, the rate will be 2-3 times that.
You have read Prop 12, haven't you? They want another $5 Billion to play with this year.
I should have voted for Kinky
TXdot has been spending lord knows what building concrete median walls along I 30, but the road surface is falling apart and lighting is nonexistent.
“The white man will deal fairly with you Indians if you just sign the treaty!”
I drive I-95 in NH. I’m here to tell you the toll booths aren’t exactly speeding traffic along, and that’s a mild understatement.
This article makes a very good point about the “cost” of congestion. Compare a highway to an electrical grid. Both of them are used by a large number of people, but the electrical grid has a variable pricing component that requires people to pay more during periods of heavy demand — the rationale being that this pricing arrangment will tend to reduce demand during those periods below what they would be in an “unconstrained” scenario.
Here, they spent a lot of money to move an entrance ramp about 100 feet north. Of course, with the solid, ‘do not cross’ lines painted on the pavement, now you have to dive across 2 lanes of traffic to get though the short legal gap to get to the ramp.
I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t a competent traffic engineering program in Texas.
I agree 100%
Step 2: Toll roads discriminate against the poor, so poor people, minorities, children ... are exempted from tolls.
Step 3: Toll roads are as crowded as other highways.
I’m not reading this article, but it could be that these professors have been hired by the toll road companies?
I notice the article didn't mention the $1.57 charge to get on or off the toll road. They've mentioned that on the San Antonio news.
It would cost me about $7.50 to go to Church and back again on Sundays. That is just wrong. I would prefer to put that money in the Collection Plate at Church, not at the toll booth.
Somehow Texas is turning into New Jersey.
The High-5 interchange in Dallas and virtually all of the major interchange on the Bush tollway are proof of that.
Yes, wasn't it so well engineered that they had to repave the connector ramps with blacktop because the concrete kept cracking - the bridges had too much flex, and not enough supports?
Have you driven on Central since they shaved about a foot or 18 inches off of each lane to make the ride more exciting north of LBJ? Of course, the stretch through the Park Cities/MStreet area still has full width lanes and a left side shoulder.