Polly Ross Hughes
Express-News Austin BureauAUSTIN – The Texas Department of Transportation is pushing Congress to pass a federal law allowing the state to “buy back” parts of existing interstate highways and turn them into toll roads.
The 24-page plan, outlined in a “Forward Momentum” report that escaped widespread attention when published in February, drew prompt objections Thursday from state lawmakers and activists fighting the spread of privately run toll roads.
“I think it’s a dreadful recommendation on the part of the transportation commissioners here in Texas,” said Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee Chairman John Carona, R-Dallas.
“I feel confident that legislators in Austin would overwhelmingly be opposed to such an idea,” he said. “The simple fact is that taxpayers have already paid for those roadways. To ask taxpayers to pay for them twice is untenable.”
The report not only advocates turning stretches of interstate highways into toll roads, but it also suggests tax breaks for private company “investment” in such enterprises.