Texas House passes moratorium on private toll roads

| Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Texas House of Representatives bill calling for a two-year moratorium on private toll roads passed overwhelmingly this week with a 134-5 vote. A similar measure is headed for a vote in the state Senate.

Although the bills do not specifically mention the controversial Trans-Texas Corridor, the sponsor of HB2772 – Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham – says her intent is to get other lawmakers to take a long, hard look at the proposed network of private toll roads.

“We need to put the brakes on these private toll contracts before we sign away half a century of future revenues and give away the local control of our transportation system,” Kolkhorst said in a statement released to Land Line.

“I’ve been working on this proposal to stop the Trans-Texas Corridor for several years, and I’m proud to see that so many of my fellow lawmakers in both parties share my concerns.”

Kolkhorst’s bill calls for a moratorium on comprehensive development agreements between the state and private equity investors for roads. It also contains language prohibiting the sale or lease of existing toll roads to private interests. Kolkhorst’s bill was passed as an amendment to a larger bill – HB1892 – in the House.

The Senate version of the bill, SB1267, introduced by Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, has received committee approval but has not yet been added to the calendar for a floor vote, a Senate staffer told Land Line.

There are several tracks the proposed legislation could take before heading to the governor’s desk. The Senate could approve the larger bill passed by the House, or the Senate could pass SB1267 and send it to the House for approval.

“It gives us options,” a spokeswoman for Nichols told Land Line.

Before the proposed legislation can become law, Gov. Rick Perry will have to sign it.

– By David Tanner, staff writer

david_tanner@landlinemag.com

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