Voters question Rep. Larry Phillips push for private, foreign built & costly toll roads in Texas

Will toll roads soon be coming to your area?

Larry Phillips, a popular State Representative from Sherman, Texas, has voters scratching their heads on his push for more toll roads throughout the state. (TX Gov)

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“Don’t bother contacting Larry Phillips unless you’re his constituent,” said Terri Hall, regarding a toll road bill up for hearing Wednesday at the Texas Capitol in Austin. “He’s sold out!”

Lawyer Phillips, who generally represents his Sherman, Texas district well in the State House, has some of his constituents scratching their heads on the House Transportation Committee Chairman’s latest push to force toll roads throughout Texas.

According to Hall, spokesperson for Texas for Turf-free Highways and TURF (Texas Uniting for Reform and Freedom), State Representative Phillips “public private” toll road bill, HB 2861, will be heard at 8 am in the House Transportation Committee (Room E2.014) on April 12, 2017.

“Phillips’ bill HB 2861 would hand 14 Texas highways and one international bridge from Dallas-Ft. Worth, Austin, & San Antonio down to the valley to a private, foreign corporation,” Hall said. According to TURF, the roads effected (Note the volume near the border. Cintra wants to control all trade through Texas) are:

– I-35 in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio
– I-45 in Houston
– Hwy 290 Houston
– I-30 in Ft. Worth
– I-635 E in Dallas
– Loop 1604 in San Antonio
– South Padre Island Second Access Causeway
– International Bridge Corridor Project
– Hidalgo County Loop project
– FM 1925 in Cameron & Hidalgo Counties
– Hwy 83 Hidalgo County
– Hwy 68 in Hidalgo County
– Outer Pkwy in Cameron County

“Toll rates for such deals exceed 75 cents per mile and cost commuters in the Metroplex $40/day during peak hours,” Hall revealed. “They’re 52-year crony sweetheart deals that socialize the losses and privatize the profits – leaving taxpayers holding the bag when they go bankrupt.”

Terri Hall, president of TURF in Austin at the State Capitol. (TURF)

“They also represent eminent domain for private gain” meaning they “are the most expensive way to fund roads and result in the greatest loss of liberty because it gives private corporations the power to tax without accountability to the taxpayers,” Hall said. “SH 130 is the first such deal in Texas and it went bankrupt in less than 3 years. Now the taxpayers are on the hook for the $438 million federal loan that went into the deal.”

TURF has been studying these various contracts for eight years and they “haven’t found a single” one “that was a good deal for the taxpayer, and none that compare to the affordability of gas tax funded roads,” Hall said.

Testimony from experts before the Senate Transportation Committee in March 2007 show that these contracts “cost 50% more and that toll projects should be publicly-run,” Hall said. “Cintra’s traffic study for I-820 forecasts that a mere 8% of traffic will take the toll lanes. Why are we building a massive network of toll lanes so few can afford to travel?”

“How does this solve congestion? It doesn’t,” she continued. “Managed lanes and congestion pricing are ‘code’ for government control of one’s freedom to travel, since the price is purposely ratcheted-up in real time in order to price the public off the road to maintain speed and profit guarantees.”

Hall is calling on “as many folks as possible to come to the Capitol Wednesday morning to register in opposition to this bill…You can register your opposition to HB 2861 on the iPad kiosks in the extension building of the capitol (outside committee rooms and down the hall from the grill) just before 8 AM up until they close public testimony on the bill. If you have an iPad, you can register using your iPad (search for House Witness Registration on Texas Legislature Online) once you’re close to the capitol building. You can literally pull up near the capitol, register against HB 2861, and then go to work (if you’re in or near Austin). You can also park, come in and register at a kiosk, and leave. The first two hours of parking in the public parking garage are free.”

Texas State Capitol (TX Gov)

Hall is asking if any citizens who plan to go to the hearing to contact her at terri@texasturf.org or text her with your name at 210-275-0640. For those who don’t plan to go but would like to help, Hall suggests they should contact the committee members and ask them to vote ‘NO!’ on HB 2861.

Send an email opposing HB 2861 to committee members.
(NOTE: Be sure to be respectful and to include your full name and address.)
geanie.morrison@house.texas.govmando.martinez@house.texas.govcindy.burkett@house.texas.govyvonne.davis@house.texas.govcraig.goldman@house.texas.govcelia.israel@house.texas.govina.minjarez@house.texas.govjoe.pickett@house.texas.gov,ron.simmons@house.texas.goved.thompson@house.texas.govsenfronia.thompson@house.texas.govjohn.wray@house.texas.gov

To call committee members (preferable):
Chair: Rep. Geanie Morrison – (512)463-0456
Vice Chair: Rep. Armando Martinez – (512)463-0530

Rep. Cindy Burkett – (512)463-0464
Rep. Yvonne Davis – (512)463-0598
Rep. Craig Goldman – (512)463-0608
Rep. Celia Israel – (512)463-0821
Rep. Ina Minjarez – (512)463-0634
Rep. Joseph Pickett – (512)463-0596
Rep. Ron Simmons – (512)463-0478
Rep. Ed Thompson – (512)463-0707
Rep. Senfronia Thompson – (512)463-0720
Rep. John Wray – (512)463-0516

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