Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tolling Central: Where Does Richardson Stand?

NCTCOG and TxDOT want to convert the HOV lane on Central Expressway (US 75) into a tolled express lane between IH 635 and Allen. Do you know where the City of Richardson stands on this? Seriously. Do you?

Different possible answers after the jump.

When the Richardson City Council received a briefing on TxDOT's plans at its June 23, 2014, meeting, it appeared that the council was opposed to tolling Central.
Mayor [Laura] Maczka summarized the council's opinion: "This is not something that we're jumping up and down about." She urged all the council members to attend the upcoming TxDOT public hearing: "Be very vocal because that's how these things get changed."
Source: The Wheel.

More recently, a group of Collin County elected officials collectively wrote a letter to TxDOT objecting to the plan to toll Central Expressway. Notably, Mayor Maczka didn't sign the letter. Richardson extends into Collin County, so you have to suspect that she was approached to sign on. If she wrote a different letter, I haven't seen or heard of it. Either way, what's her position?

How about Mayor Maczka's position on the longer-term desire by TxDOT to widen Central Expressway? Back in May, CBS 11 reported that "Four mayors and two Collin County commissioners are drafting a letter to the Texas Department of Transportation, expressing concern over plans to widen Highway 75." Mayor Maczka was reportedly one of those four mayors. Yet if that draft letter was different than the letter referred to in the previous paragraph, I haven't seen or heard of it. If it's the same letter, why did Mayor Mazcka withdraw from it?

Most recently, there has been a report that at a meeting in Dallas of TxDOT's Texas Transportation Commission, Mayor Maczka actually expressed support for the tolling plan, contradicting her position at the June 23 City Council meeting. This wouldn't be surprising, as Maczka is member of the Executive Board of NCTCOG, which strongly supports the tolling plan.
Steve Terrell, Mayor of Allen; Harry LaRosiliere, Mayor of Plano; and Laura Maczka, Mayor of Richardson [undermined] 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."

Note that this unverified report comes from an anti-tax political action committee 99.98% of whose funding comes from one Midland oilman and whose president has ethics problems. But it's all I have. I can't find Mayor Maczka's remarks at the TxDOT hearing posted on the City of Richardson's website. Come on Mayor Maczka, speak to the residents of Richardson directly so I don't have to get my Richardson news from a Midland oilman with an agenda.

So again, I ask: Do you know where the City of Richardson stands on this? Seriously. Do you? Because I sure don't. Maybe that's just the way Mayor Maczka wants to have it.


Mark Steger said...

Plan to toll Central dead...for now. Collin County legislators told to get Austin to pony up money some other way. Richardson council members still silent on exactly where the heck they stand.

Mark Steger said...

Correction: At the September 8 city council worksession, Mayor Maczka clarified her statements to the Texas Transportation Commission, denying that she or the mayors of Plano and Allen expressed support for tolling Central Expressway. In the worksession she said the city has not taken a position on tolling. I was wrong to state that she was silent on where she or the city stands. I regret the error.