FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2007
AUSTIN -- Today the Texas senate passed Senate Bill 1267 by Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) which puts a two-year freeze on private toll road contracts and establishes a panel to review the terms of these agreements.
"We are now one step closer to protecting Texans from toll deals that would cripple our transportation system for the next half century," said Nichols.
Nichols, a former transportation commissioner, has major concerns with proposed private toll road contracts including:
- competition penalties that cripple the state when building new roads or improving current roads for 50-plus years;
- a private tolling authority's ability to significantly increase toll rates;
- the lack of local input into the bidding process; and
- The lack of a clear formula to determine cost should the state need to terminate the contract early and "buy back" the road.
"There is too much at stake to move forward with faulty contracts," said Nichols. "Teenagers getting their license today will reach retirement age before these terms expire. We must take time to do this right."
The bill prohibits only private toll roads. Public entities may still pursue projects.
House bill 2772 by Rep. Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) is the companion bill to Senate Bill 1267. However, the House also passed a two-year moratorium as an amendment to HB 1892 which awaits a vote in the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee.