Freeway Plan Hijacked for Toll/Transit Lanes
Why a lawsuit?
The Original Gas Tax Funded Plan
The original gas tax funded plan for 281 included overpasses, expansion, and frontage roads. Public hearings promising the fix occurred in 2001, the gas tax funds became available in 2003. The improvements should have been built by now.
But then in late 2003 everything changed...
The numbers don't add up
Ten miles on 1604 West are being expanded NON-TOLL, with 5 overpasses for $200 million or $20 million/mile ($20 million was taken from 281 to complete this project on 1604). Yet according to the MPO plan adopted in 2012, TxDOT and local leaders want to charge taxpayers $440 million for an 7.3-mile expansion of 281 ($110 million in non-toll or $37 million/mile for the first three miles, and $330 million for toll elements throughout the 7.3 miles at $45 million/mile for a total cost of $60 million/mile for both the toll & non-toll elements).
One of the things driving up the cost is the 9 overpasses planned on 281. It's OVERKILL -- 9 overpasses in less than 8 miles! Some of the overpasses are planned at entrances to subdivisions of TxDOT employees are NOT a city or county road (they're private subdivision roads). The original expansion plan for 281 included 6 overpasses. While the consultants who did the environmental study on 281 argue the traffic volume warrants the overpasses, every subdivision is not entitled to their own overpass, and the use of frontage roads and turnarounds will facilitate needed travel across 281 in the absence of an overpass, just as it does south of Loop 1604 on 281. With 6 overpasses in 7.3 miles, no traveler will have to go far to get across 281.
Free lanes will be converted to toll lanes - a DOUBLE TAX
US 281 will only have 3 miles of non-toll main lanes (versus 10 miles of non-toll lanes on the 1604 West project), while north of Marshall Road, ALL six main lanes will be tolled. There are currently 6 non-toll main lanes until Evans Rd. and 5 non-toll main lanes to Stone Oak Pkwy., yet only 4 non-toll lanes will be available AFTER this toll project is implemented.
So two non-toll main lanes are being converted to tolled/HOV transit lanes, using millions in YOUR tax dollars to simply re-arrange the pavement. TxDOT and local politicians are attempting to get away with this by counting the merging lanes from the northern ramps of the interchange as part of the 'free lane' count, but, of course, those lanes are only available to those entering 281 from 1604.
So with a net loss in lane capacity, the free lanes will remain congested even with the welcome addition of overpasses. It's a way to force more cars into the toll lanes, by keeping the free lanes congested -- not to mention a massive DOUBLE TAX to charge Texans twice for what they've already built and paid for.
2009 Vote on Tolling 281/1604
Throw the bums out!
San Antonio MPO votes to toll AGAIN...
FINAL SAMPO VOTE: 281/1604 left in toll plan
In October, 2009, these MPO members who voted to toll your EXISTING FREEWAYS despite 800 people packing the room and one hundred testifying AGAINST tolls. In total there was five and a half hours of testimony against tolling our existing freeways, 13 MPO Board members still voted in favor. Only 7 people testified in favor of tolls, and they were the Greater Chamber of Commerce, the North Chamber of Commerce and those who work for the highway lobby. It was over 90% AGAINST tolls. This should sound the alarm quite clearly that our elected officials no longer represent us. It's taxation without representation!