Toll Roads Promote Sprawl, Spending

RECEIVED Wed., July 21, 2004

Dear Editor:
    The Chronicle's limited interest in the proposed saddling of Travis County taxpayers with $2.2 billion in toll-road debt by an unelected toll-road "authority" remains puzzling ["Divided CAMPO Says Yes to Toll Plan," News, July 16]. Your coverage has done little to dispel misinformation delivered by toll-road proponents. Just two examples: The pro-toll road folks, including our esteemed mayor, want citizens to think we fell behind in road building and must "catch up," when we have been building roads faster than any other metropolitan area in the country except Tucson; these roads have only increased, not decreased, congestion, as will the toll roads if they are built.
    Mayor Wynn and Chron reporter Clark-Madison have also made the absurd claim that the toll-road scheme is consistent with Envision Central Texas. The toll-road plan is based on sprawl-growth patterns and the traffic they generate continuing unchanged for the next several decades, while ECT's entire premise is based on changing our growth patterns to reduce sprawl and thereby save both tax dollars and our Hill Country watersheds. Guess which of these two futures will win if we bet $2.2 billion on the toll roads (only to be immediately followed by another few billion in Real Estate Council demands to expand roads to serve traffic trying to avoid the toll roads).
   There are related issues worth writing and talking about. Perhaps we could imagine actually fulfilling the ECT vision and saving billions of dollars – dollars that could protect our water, provide health care, improve education, and deliver centrally located affordable housing that doesn't require 50-mile-per-day commutes. Or perhaps ask why Gov. Perry and the toll-road warriors want to lock us into tens of billions of 30- to 40-year road bonds based on the assumption that people will continue driving more and more just when global oil production is about to peak. Some people are even asking the question why we are spending $1 billion per week to fight for oil in Iraq.
Best regards,
Bill Bunch
Save Our Springs Alliance
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