The Texas Transportation Commission is scheduled to vote on the allocation of $146,000,000 to San Antonio Thursday, all of which would go towards the $500,000,000 the Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization approved on Monday for portions of highways U.S 281 and Loop 1604.
"We have now put in almost $500,000,000 of what will be new, non-toll highway construction on 1604 and 281, and at the same time we kept in our plans what they call managed lanes or toll lanes on 1604 and something called a transit priority lane on 281," said Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff.
The plans the MPO approved do in fact show the building of toll lanes to the outside of the U.S. 281 and Loop 1604 main lanes.
"They're still putting tolls on 281. They're still putting tolls on 1604. At the end of the day there are still going to be toll roads. Of course we understood from the beginning the this $146,000,000 was nowhere near enough to expand all that is needed on both of those highways without any tolling, but the rub comes with the parts that can be expanded. There's money now to fix those without any need for tolling, and they still accepted toll roads on those sections that are already paid for with our tax money," said Terri Hall, Director of Texas Uniting for Reform Freedom, or TURF.
However, the confusion comes from what seems to be the MPO's contradictory statements that the plan they approved is still non-toll.
"The big news and the big win is that we took essentially $500,000,000 in new construction that was previously planned as toll construction and now have made it non-toll," said Commissioner Wolff.
The confusion could be coming from the MPO referring to these toll lanes as 'managed lanes.'
With managed lanes a freeway essentially has two types of lanes. The first, a set of toll free lanes prone to congestion that run inside the second set of managed lanes, in which an electronic toll is charged to avoid the building of toll booths and to help relieve congestion.
"Nobody in San Antonio should have to pay a toll for either of these stretches of road, when they have been built with our tax money...that's a double tax. Basically, they're coming in and double taxing us and using our gas tax money or sales tax money to build the road. They're going to make us pay again to drive on that road and they want us to thank them for it?," said Hall.
By: Marissa A. Wagner
Picture above is a model of managed
lanes; not actual 281 1604 plans