Texas Gov. Perry appoints Robert Poole to toll road committee

| 12/7/2007

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has appointed Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation to a committee designed to study private investment options for toll roads in the Lone Star State.

Poole is the director of transportation studies for the Reason Foundation, a free-market think tank he founded. He is widely known as an advocate of public-private partnerships, congestion pricing and the leasing of infrastructure to private investors.

Poole, a resident of Florida, frequently writes on the topics of transportation, privatization and “free market” alternatives to government-controlled infrastructure. He has advised four U.S. presidents on transportation policy.

Perry tapped Poole as one of three appointments he made Thursday, Dec. 6, to the Study Committee on Private Participation in Toll Projects.

Perry also appointed John W. Johnson, a Houston resident who is past commissioner of the Texas Transportation Commission, and Grady W. Smithey of Duncanville who is secretary of the Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition.

Criteria for the committee originated in SB792 that Perry signed into law June 11. The legislation also gave quasi-government tolling authorities an exemption from a moratorium on privately funded toll roads.

Perry stated in a press release that he signed SB792 into law to keep construction moving in areas like Dallas and Houston where regional tolling authorities are building toll roads to battle congestion.

The Legislature directed the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the Texas House of Representatives to each appoint three people to the nine-member study committee.

House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, appointed Rep. Aaron Pena, D-Edinburgh; Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman; and Rep. Wayne Smith, R-Baytown, to the committee in September.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst named Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee; Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, Senate sponsor of SB 792; and Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville.

According to the legislation that created it, the committee must deliver any reports, recommendations and/or proposed legislation to the governor no later than Dec. 1, 2008.

– By David Tanner, staff writer