Monday, June 23, 2008

TXDOT Hearings on 820 Toll Roads July 1

Notice of a meeting July 1
The issue is not just tolls but letting a foreign country control Texas land in perpetuity.

Focus on Local Issue - *TOLL ROADS ACTION ALERT*
You might have seen the article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Friday about the North Loop 820 expansion, and how it will be paid for through very expensive toll roads, to be constructed by CINTRA, Rick Perry's special-interest Spanish corporation that courted the Trans Texas Corridor. In a nutshell, Bud Kennedy is reporting that the proposed toll for EACH WAY in the new toll lanes will be $4.00 for a total of $8.00 roundtrip. Republican County Commissioner Gary Fickes is very much responsible for this situation as he was the one who led the cheerleading effort on the Regional Transit council to get this plan passed.

TXDOT is holding a Public Hearing in Richland Hills to get community input. Let's get out there and show them what kind of "input" we have for them.

Public Hearing for Loop 820 Toll Road
Tues., July 1, 6:30pm
Richland Hills Church of Christ
6300 North East Loop 820
Richland Hills, Texas

Click here for a map

Link to Star Telegram Article about 820 Toll Lanes

Link to TXDOT Public Hearing in Richland Hills

Link to Toll Tag Application

Bud Kennedy: Worst bottlenecks in North Texas? Right here in Tarrant
By Bud Kennedy - Fort Worth Star Telegram - June 20, 2008
We’re No. 1.

But not in a good way.

Northeast Loop 820 in Hurst is the worst bottleneck in all of North Texas, according to a new study that ranks the region’s roads among America’s most choked, behind only Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Washington.

There’s more bad news.

Not only is the 820-Airport Freeway interchange the No. 1 bottleneck — worse than anyplace in Dallas— but the Loop 820 exits at Denton Highway and Rufe Snow Drive are Nos. 2 and 3.

Overall, Northeast Tarrant County drivers face worse traffic than anyone in Dallas or Houston, according to a study of truck GPS data compiled by INRIX Inc. of Seattle.

Only Austin — where Interstate 35 amounts to a 5-mile-long elevated parking lot — has a freeway as crowded as Loop 820, and that city’s traffic overall is nowhere near as bad as Fort Worth’s.

What’s more, the region’s No. 4 worst bottleneck is Interstate 35W north of downtown Fort Worth. It’s congested an average of 7 hours a day.

Basically, Houston and Dallas already fixed their roads. We’re waiting for state money.

I would like to assure you that every county and city official is working on the problem.

But I couldn’t find many of them yesterday. For all I know, they were stalled in traffic at Holiday Lane.

When North Richland Hills Mayor Oscar Trevino called back, he was weaving down neighborhood streets to escape U.S. 377.

He described Loop 820 as "just ugly."

"The people who have to drive that every day don’t say nice things," he said. "It’s bad for our city. Businesses want to come, but they see the traffic and say, 'Why would I get into this?’ "

County Judge Glen Whitley is very familiar with the time-waste potential of Loop 820. He lives in Hurst.

"It’s a big drawback to the whole county," he said. "The traffic north of Fort Worth is so unreliable that nobody can predict how long it’ll take to get to work."

There’s a solution in the making. But lots of Texans won’t like it.

Three Spanish-owned companies are in the running for a $1 billion contract to widen Loop 820 and operate two private toll lanes. The toll would be $4 each way.

The project is part of the North Tarrant Express, a new tollway network slow off the drawing board in Austin.

"We can’t get Austin to move forward," Whitley said. "It’s ridiculous that this is the last part of Loop 820 to be improved."

A public hearing July 1 at 7 p.m. at Richland Hills Church of Christ will give both residents and tollway-haters a chance to vent about both the slow plans and high tolls.

Terri Hall of San Antonio leads an anti-tollway group, Texans Uniting for Reform & Freedom (TURF). She said she opposes any private tollway.

"The bottom line is, this the most expensive way to expand that road," she said. "It means the highest possible cost to taxpayers and drivers, and hands over money to foreign companies. When the state has a record budget surplus, it’s hard to see how there’s not money for that road."

Call it the Billion-Dollar Bottleneck.

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