Mayors of Plano, Allen, and Richardson recently spoke against their state and county elected officials as well as many of their constituents, lobbying the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) for the tolling of US Highway 75—the last untolled throughway of Collin County.
At a Texas Transportation Commission (TTC) meeting yesterday, County Judge Keith Self and State Representative Jeff Leach, speaking on behalf of the entire State House and Senate delegations for Collin County as well as the Collin County Commissioners Court, gave comments to the commission opposing TXDOT’s plan to toll US Highway 75 under a deceptively-named “managed lanes” model.
Judge Self and Rep. Leach pointed out the fact that the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) tolls every other major Collin County highway. Judge Self stated, “If you toll US 75, you will have tolled the last free highway in Collin County.” Currently, US 75 serves as the backbone North-South through-route for commuters of Collin County.
Because of their large number of major tolled roads, citizens of Collin County contribute a disproportionately higher amount of money to NTTA than any other county in the system. According to Judge Self, Collin County residents comprise less than 20% of toll tag customers, but contribute over 30% of NTTA’s total revenue.
Between their three tolled highways: President George Bush Turnpike, Sam Rayburn Tollway, and the Dallas North Tollway, citizens of Collin County subsidize the “system financing” model of NTTA, meaning these roads support projects funded outside of the county.
These salient facts on the nature of toll roads in Collin County did not stop Steve Terrell, Mayor of Allen; Harry LaRosiliere, Mayor of Plano; and Laura Maczka, Mayor of Richardson from undermining their state and county leaders by voicing their support alongside pro-toll lobbyists for the tolling conversion of US Highway 75.
Standing with his fellow pro-tollers, Mayor LaRosiliere, said to commissioners, “As impressive as it is, we weren’t on that letter [by Collin County state and county officials opposing the toll].”
Emphasizing their desire to “have a seat at the table,” each mayor euphemistically favored the unnecessary tolling plan while claiming, “we’ve listened to our constituents, too.”
Citizens of these cities should be quick to ask, “which constituents are you listening too?” While neglecting to mention the fact that their taxpaying citizens already fund the expansion of highways in Collin County, it seems the mayors of these North Texas cities demand citizens pay a “double-tax” of tolled highways.
UPDATE: According to comments by TXDOT staff at today’s meeting, the Commission (TTC) has only approved plans and funds for the design and planning phase of the tolling, not the funds for construction. As for now, the tolling plan is on hold.