As San Antonio residents digest the so called 'Super Toll' plan to build $825 million in toll roads around the city, the leaders of the International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association says the current debate over toll roads in Bexar County is nothing new, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"It is not uncommon at all to have people oppose toll roads, and then once they are actually in use, they like them," Association President Patrick Jones told 1200 WOAI news.
The association, which represents the operators of transportation related toll facilities nationwide, is holding its annual meeting in San Antonio in conjunction with the ninth annual Texas Transportation Forum.
Jones said roads are deteriorating, and new roads are needed, and it is clear that there is no money available for the level of repairs and construction that is needed.
"Tolls and tolling is an effective and powerful way to support the kinds of roads that we need," he said. "We are not going to have that kind of support from the gas tax and general purpose taxes involved."
Jones said tolling is actually a fairer and more efficient way to fund highway construction.
"The money from the tolls goes directly into the toll facility," he said. "You don't pay a toll unless you use the road."
He says unlike the gasoline tax, which is frequently 'diverted' by greedy politicians into pet projects, 100% of the toll road money collected goes directly into building and maintaining the toll road.
Mike Heilingenstein, who is the executive director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority and the President of the IBTTA, says citizens need to get away from the fiction that toll roads amount to 'double taxation,' because that's simply not true.
"You go to downtown San Antonio at a downtown parking meter, you are paying to park at a spot that you have already paid for," he said. "Your taxes bought the right of way, paved the road, and did everything the city did."
He and Jones say as we move into the last half of the decade, Texas is growing at an amazing rate, and the choice now isn't between tolls and no tolls. It's between tolls and no road and increasing congestion and gridlock.