Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill into law that allows
local communities in Texas to assist in the financing of turnpike projects
In return for footing some of the expense, the new law
allows cities and counties to keep a percentage of tolls collected. The money
must go for transportation projects but not necessarily the toll road that
generates the revenue.
Senators voted 31-0 May 25 in favor of the bill –
HB2650 – which passed the House 85-54 in April.
This effort is in response to a 300-plus-page measure
approved by legislators in 2003 that radically changed Texas code by giving the
state Transportation Department powers to build toll roads or convert free
roads into “pay-to-play” roads.
Supporters said toll roads are needed to relieve
congestion at a time when the state does not have enough money to build roads.
They contend toll roads would cut the time in half that it takes to build
roads, the El Paso Times reported.
Opponents complain TxDOT is trying to change tactics
after first “bullying” towns into supporting toll roads by threatening to cut
off road funding. The department and others now are pushing toll roads by
offering towns money.