Texas lawmakers have introduced bills in the state Senate
and House to disrupt proposals for privatized toll roads - including the
State Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, filed two bills
less than a week after a public hearing by the state Senate Committee on
Transportation and Homeland Security regarding the Trans-Texas Corridor and
It was at that hearing where numerous speakers called for
state transportation officials and lawmakers to back off from the controversial
4,000-mile network of toll roads, railways and utility lines proposed by Gov.
The legislation filed by Nichols on Tuesday, March 7 -
SB1267 and SB1268 - limits the state in terms of private-sector involvement in
The first bill calls for a two-year moratorium on contracts
for privately built toll roads and the creation of a study group to evaluate
the long-term effects of privatization. The second bill calls for the state to
prohibit converting existing roads to toll roads.
"We must closely evaluate private toll contracts before we
sign away half a century of control of our transportation system," Nichols said
in a written statement. "Many provisions in recent toll contracts are
Two dozen lawmakers signed on as co-sponsors.
State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, filed identical
legislation - HB 2772 - in the Texas House.
"Passing this bill will be a huge victory for Texans and
Texas," members of a grassroots group Corridor Watch said on their Web site.
Corridor Watch participated in the Senate hearing March 1
and helped organize a protest rally against the Trans-Texas Corridor.
Grassroots protests haven't been the only voice of dissent
about the proposed corridor.
The Texas State Auditor's Office recently criticized
transportation officials for distorting estimated taxpayer costs associated
with the corridor. Gov. Perry and others have said the corridor would cost
taxpayers very little to build.
The Texas Department of Transportation estimates the cost of
the network to be about $184 billion, while state auditors found that one
section alone - approximately 14 percent of the proposed corridor - would cost
?- By David Tanner, staff writer