Monday, August 28, 2006

PODER Working to Defeat Toll Roads
By Fancy Fairchild

Dear Editor,
Re: "More Toll Road Tremors" [News, Aug. 18]: Mike Heiligenstein, director of CTRMA, used our tax dollars to make dopey commercials (Hey kids! Tolls are great!) to coax and lull people into accepting tolls. Drawbacks, such as rising costs of goods and services caused by tolls, traffic snarls caused by drivers avoiding tolls, or that it's a misdemeanor (with all the costs and penalties that implies) to drive on toll roads without paying are "conveniently ignored" by Heiligenstein.

In 2004 Heiligenstein said it would take a gas-tax increase of $2 to $3 per gallon to avoid toll roads. CAMPO's estimate was that it would take 2 cents per gallon to avoid them. The power and money CTRMA will have in the future hinges on how many toll roads Heiligenstein can sell. Contrast his motives with those of PODER – working to save East Austin's poor and working class from financial hardship.

PODER didn't "conveniently ignore" anything. There is a disproportionate number of freeways being converted to toll roads in east Travis County. TXDOT, CTRMA, and CAMPO are components of a toll-road machine started by Rick Perry. They never even tried to think of other ways to meet our road needs. There are viable alternatives, but this machine is powerful and money-driven. Grassroots toll-opposition groups are not Luddites – we are trying to keep our tax-paid transportation infrastructure from being a revenue source for private interests.

During the meeting, CAMPO's chairman Gonzalo Barrientos bullied PODER's speakers until one man was roundly applauded for saying he wasn't going to take Barrientos' disrespect anymore. Let's see a report on that in the Chronicle.

Fancy Fairchild


George Eliot


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