CAMPO Ignores Public Opinion

RECEIVED Fri., July 23, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Once again, in passing the toll plan, our elected (and nonelected) officials have decided that the citizens of Austin don't know what's best for them ["Road Foes: Down, but Not Out?," News, July 23].
   Despite the fact that the huge majority of Austin's residents opposed the plan, their "representatives" decided to shove a flawed plan down our throats. The last-minute flurry of amendments for which the public had no opportunity to comment on, let alone read, was indicative of a calculated political move to circumvent public opinion.
   Now that the proposal passed, disturbing truths have begun to emerge. One example is Amendment 6 ( of the toll road plan. It states that the tolls collected at the William Cannon/Loop 1 overpass are intended to be used to improve the entire Loop 1, including relocating the Union Pacific Railroad and paying for the operations and maintenance of commuter rail within the MoPac corridor.
   Why will only Southwest Austin residents be paying for this if this is to the benefit of the entire city? Shouldn't it be part of the commuter rail plan? The answer is that the CAMPO members who voted for the toll road plan see the William Cannon overpass as a cash cow, as Southwest Austin residents will have no other practical way to travel downtown. It is too politically sensitive to toll all of MoPac.
   If the CAMPO officials who voted for the toll road plan really know what is best for us, where are the traffic, revenue, and environmental studies to back up their assertions? Who has considered the effect the tolls will have on recruiting business to Austin? We already have high property taxes; now we will have tolls to erode our paychecks. Tolls will never go away and they will only increase in cost. Toll revenue will be siphoned off for other projects, as it is in all other cities that have toll roads. The plain truth is that the toll road plan is a victory for special interests and will destroy the quality of life in the Austin we love.
Jon Sylvie
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