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Your Money Pit: SH 130 Toll Road
The SH 130 Toll Road East of Austin is the single largest Toll Road construction project in the nation, and investors wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole. SH 130 Toll Road was simply too risky for the investor.
Since it was not a viable project for investors (read this complete article carefully to have your jaw drop firmly on the floor), our politicos offered up our tax dollars and our debt to get Gov. Perry's Trans Texas Corridor "primer" built. Even though we pay for it, we need to pay the toll again if we want to drive it - just like the plan to toll most of Austin's freeways.Don't think you should pay for it? Heck, you voted to pay for it, under the guise of another tricky bond package.
In November 2000, Austinites voted for $150,000,000 worth of Austin city bonds to add new roads and some other stuff. We all assumed the City of Austin ballot language meant we were paying for new roads, but instead, over the last 6 years, 80% of our bond dollars have funded our own money pit - the 130 toll road.The actual ballot language:
Nov. 7, 2000 election PROPOSITION 1 - THE ISSUANCE OF $150,000,000 TAX SUPPORTED GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS TO IMPROVE ROADWAY INTERSECTIONS, ACQUIRE RIGHT-OF- WAY, PROVIDE FUNDS FOR HIGHWAY AND ROADWAY CONSTRUCTION, DEVELOP HIGH OCCUPANCY VEHICLE LANES AND RELATED INFRACTRUCTURE, IMPROVE BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN MOBILITY INFRASTRUCTURE, CONSTRUCT RELATED DRAINAGE FACILITY IMPROVEMENTS, AND ACQUIRE LAND AND OTHER PROPERTY INTERESTS FOR THESE PROJECTS; AND THE LEVY OF A TAX SUFFICIENT TO PAY THE BONDS - Ordinance #000821-01
On March 7, 2006, Councilman Raul Alvarez asked the city to reveal where our November 2000 city bond money was being spent. Some of the information from this article comes from the department of public works response to Raul Alvarez.
100% of the first five years worth of Austin bond money, $67.2 million to be exact, went for SH 130 toll road right of way. Not one penny was spent on any other item listed on the ballot. Meanwhile those of us who live inside Austin are also paying more via our Travis County property taxes for Williamson County's portion of SH 130.
To be fair, in the last year, about $16 million has been used for other purposes - like widening roads. Roads like the ones that lead to SH 130 toll road. About $5 million of the $16 is listed as "design or the preliminary phase of construction for Pedestrian Infrastructure".A Chronicle article from October 2000 (just before the election) says that $20 million was promised for bike and ped projects. It also says:
"If approved, Prop. 1 would dedicate $130 million for road projects"
"corridors receiving high priority would likely include Barton Springs Road, Cesar Chavez, Airport Boulevard, South First, Giles Road, and Hwy. 183"
"This is the transportation bond package assembled by Mayor Kirk Watson, the one designed to reassure voters that their present-day commuting miseries aren't being ignored"
Here are the last 2 lines of the Dept of Public Works document sent to Alverez:
"The November 2000 Proposition 1 Bonds are the only current source of future funding for street capacity improvements. The planned 2006 Bond Election does not include any funding for street capacity improvements."Note to Self: NEVER vote for any items placed on the ballot by politicians.
Of course, the above is a tiny example of how politicos steal your money for 130 and other pet projects. According to TIME Magazine's article, "The next wave in super highways or a Big, Fat Texas Boondoggle?" 12/04, the project costs $1.5 Billion dollars. TIME also said this of Gov. Perry, "Since 1997, he has received more than $1 million from highway interests, according to reports filed with the Texas ethics commission."Here's the real kicker. Yes, it gets worse.
Our SH 130 Toll Road (that we can't drive unless we pay the toll again) has yet to open, and according to a 130 traffic and revenue statement, it's already failed.
An Official Statement for SH 130 from 2002 says the revenue forecasts in the Traffic and Revenue Report are based on the assumption that motor fuel will remain in adequate supply and motor fuel prices will not exceed $2.50 per gallon (over the next 40 years).Whoopsi!
But, don't worry, that means Cintra will get it at a discount, when they cut a secret deal with Gov. Perry so they can profit off your hard earned tax dollars. And the special interests who fund city council campaigns will surely profit off developing what you paid for.
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