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Riverranchdrone Mar 7, 2021 6:52 PM

Wasnt there a plan for the city of Austin or The state of Texas to buy the toll roads. I heard it a few years ago but nothing new since then. https://www.star-telegram.com/news/p...226751534.html

freerover Mar 7, 2021 7:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Riverranchdrone (Post 9210128)
Wasnt there a plan for the city of Austin or The state of Texas to buy the toll roads. I heard it a few years ago but nothing new since then. https://www.star-telegram.com/news/p...226751534.html

That would be a waste of money. What's wrong with people who use the roads paying for them?

Enghum Mar 7, 2021 10:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by freerover (Post 9210146)
That would be a waste of money. What's wrong with people who use the roads paying for them?

My main problem with toll roads are

1. General inefficiencies in toll collection. A significant amount of the toll being collected is not going to pay for the road. Technology and administrative costs eat up 30% of collections and then loan interest eat up another significant portion meaning the amount paid for a toll road over the life of the highway is multiples of it just being funded up front.

2. Overly successful toll roads. When a toll road collects much more than the cost to implement then where does that money go? Dropping toll rates means an increase in congestion plus toll authorities like to implement a standard per mile toll rate across a system except for variable express lanes. Generally the more urban area a toll road serves with more constrained right of ways the more money collected. That collected money then gets spent in more suburban areas to expand the system. This basically becomes an urban subsidy for the suburban expansions. Dallas North Tollway south of 635 is a perfect example. That toll road has had minimal investment in the last 20 years but has been extremely profitable. That money that has been collected has been applied to other projects. Locally the express lanes for Mopac will be creating the same problem. The cost of implementation is nowhere near how much money those lanes are going to be making as congestion increases.

3. Walled cities surrounded by toll roads. Toll roads can become a signal or barrier to entry for the working class. Would you consider living somewhere that you expect your toll bill to be hundreds of dollars a month if you make $25,000 a year? Toll roads are beginning to be used in Texas as a way to segregate classes and deny opportunity.

4. Over building of freeways. Haven't you noticed that toll roads go BIG a lot of the time? There is an incentive to induce demand on the toll road and these choices usually leave out local decision making. When the toll authority has the money and says a road should be built they have an early mover advantage vs other funding mechanisms. You also have decision makers at toll authorities using revolving doors to work for road construction companies. It's this vicious cycle where road studies, construction, and decision making for expansion are all done by the same group of people.

Riverranchdrone Mar 8, 2021 3:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by freerover (Post 9210146)
That would be a waste of money. What's wrong with people who use the roads paying for them?

The tolls are way over priced. I can take the entire IH35 toll through Kansas for the same money it takes to just get across Austin. The money also doesn't help keep the tolls open during Ice storms. The tolls also entrap much of Austin's less wealthy neighborhoods. Kind of like what IH-35 did to east Austin in the past. Also the tolls are owned by foreign companies so the money does not stay here to benefit the communities.

SproutingTowers Mar 8, 2021 5:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ahealy (Post 9209983)
So.... let me ask a dumbass question here. What is up with our toll roads? Will 130 & 45 always be a tolls? I am in RR/CP a lot these days and find it absolutely ridiculous how confusing life is if you choose to not use the tolls. Is the plan that it'll be like 1604 in SA?

Currently, it's a nightmare and I hate it.

First, toll roads get built faster. All the current toll roads in Austin got started and completed while the Y (290/71) in Oak Hill has been stuck in limbo trying to get funding and start construction. So far it’s been 30 years in waiting.

Toll roads also have created huge economic growth where has helped Hutto and Cedar Park grow, and businesses grew along side of it. They also run routes to move people around at ease where SH 130 gives an alternative to I-35, SH 45 creates East-West crossovers by avoiding busy streets littered with traffic lights.

As for 1604 on the Northside of San Antonio the managed toll lane plan was removed and replaced by HOV lane. Unlike Austin where TxDOT is stingy with highway funding about $1/2 billion was allocated for this project.

electricron Mar 8, 2021 7:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SproutingTowers (Post 9210497)
As for 1604 on the Northside of San Antonio the managed toll lane plan was removed and replaced by HOV lane. Unlike Austin where TxDOT is stingy with highway funding about $1/2 billion was allocated for this project.

Are you suggesting TXDOT does not wish to spent $1/2 Billion near Austin recently?
https://communityimpact.com/austin/c...al-texas-news/
raffic moves along the upper decks of I-35 near downtown Austin on Dec. 1. The Texas Department of Transportation is seeking public feedback on a $4.9 billion project to improve the 8-mile stretch of I-35 through downtown.

ahealy Mar 8, 2021 1:45 PM

Thanks for all the input, guys. In my opinion, it just doesn't work here and is a bit of a boondoggle. if you're like me and drive a lot for work AND are in a grey area with tolls being covered on your milage (:uhh:) it's damn near impossible to smoothly travel on an alternate route up there...a route which isn't a total shit show. I can't help but also think of the huge influx of people/housing we are currently gaining in North/NE/NW Austin with this housing crisis and what that will do for congestion/tolls.

Novacek Mar 8, 2021 2:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Enghum (Post 9210266)
My main problem with toll roads are

1. General inefficiencies in toll collection. A significant amount of the toll being collected is not going to pay for the road. Technology and administrative costs eat up 30% of collections

Not even close, CTRMA budgets are available online.

https://www.mobilityauthority.com/up...u%2021-004.pdf

(and of course, most of that "administrative costs" still exist for "free" highways. It's just in TxDot's $5B annual budget black hole).

Quote:

Originally Posted by Enghum (Post 9210266)
and then loan interest eat up another significant portion meaning the amount paid for a toll road over the life of the highway is multiples of it just being funded up front.

So you'd prefer to instead not build the highway for decades while saving up enough money to build it? At which point construction costs have increased so much it costs as much as the interest payments would have been?

At current interest rates it would make no sense not to debt fund as much as you need. Even if you had cash on hand.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Enghum (Post 9210266)
Generally the more urban area a toll road serves with more constrained right of ways the more money collected. That collected money then gets spent in more suburban areas to expand the system. This basically becomes an urban subsidy for the suburban expansions. Dallas North Tollway south of 635 is a perfect example. That toll road has had minimal investment in the last 20 years but has been extremely profitable. That money that has been collected has been applied to other projects. Locally the express lanes for Mopac will be creating the same problem. The cost of implementation is nowhere near how much money those lanes are going to be making as congestion increases.

So you'd prefer the even greater suburban subsidy of gas taxes (taking money from miles driven on purely local urban roads not on highways) or general funds (taking money from those that don't even drive)?


The urban sections are also much more expensive to construct and maintain. The mopac toll lanes ended up being expensive enough. Just wait until they start (in 15-20 years or so) talking about expanding them again with depressed lanes like I35.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Enghum (Post 9210266)
3. Walled cities surrounded by toll roads. Toll roads can become a signal or barrier to entry for the working class. Would you consider living somewhere that you expect your toll bill to be hundreds of dollars a month if you make $25,000 a year? Toll roads are beginning to be used in Texas as a way to segregate classes and deny opportunity.

That expense still exists if you need to pay for huge highways serving sprawl with another funding mechanism. A massively increased gas tax would hit that $25k salary too.
Or now you want to massively subsidize those suburbs?

Novacek Mar 8, 2021 3:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Riverranchdrone (Post 9210414)
The money also doesn't help keep the tolls open during Ice storms. The tolls also entrap much of Austin's less wealthy neighborhoods. Kind of like what IH-35 did to east Austin in the past. Also the tolls are owned by foreign companies so the money does not stay here to benefit the communities.

Toll roads in Austin include:

Loop 1 N tolls
183A
Mopac toll lanes
45N
45SW

They're about to build 183N and still pushing for S Mopac toll lanes.

None of those are in East Austin. Many are running to and through more affluent neighborhoods. The claim that tolls are trapping the poor doesn't hold up.


1 section of 130 is leased out. And it's not even the section that runs in Austin. The other roads are directly owned and operated by TxDot or CTRMA.

Echostatic Mar 8, 2021 4:23 PM

Dunno. Seems pretty east-biased to me.

https://i.imgur.com/tqmT4An.png

Novacek Mar 8, 2021 6:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Echostatic (Post 9210742)
Dunno. Seems pretty east-biased to me.

https://i.imgur.com/tqmT4An.png

Now add 183N, 183A phase 3, and Mopac South.

Echostatic Mar 8, 2021 7:00 PM

Red: Tollway
Purple: Tolled Express Lanes
Dotted: Proposed or U/C

https://i.imgur.com/yUWqTLF.png

Enghum Mar 9, 2021 5:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Novacek (Post 9210659)
Not even close, CTRMA budgets are available online.

https://www.mobilityauthority.com/up...u%2021-004.pdf

(and of course, most of that "administrative costs" still exist for "free" highways. It's just in TxDot's $5B annual budget black hole).



So you'd prefer to instead not build the highway for decades while saving up enough money to build it? At which point construction costs have increased so much it costs as much as the interest payments would have been?

At current interest rates it would make no sense not to debt fund as much as you need. Even if you had cash on hand.



So you'd prefer the even greater suburban subsidy of gas taxes (taking money from miles driven on purely local urban roads not on highways) or general funds (taking money from those that don't even drive)?


The urban sections are also much more expensive to construct and maintain. The mopac toll lanes ended up being expensive enough. Just wait until they start (in 15-20 years or so) talking about expanding them again with depressed lanes like I35.



That expense still exists if you need to pay for huge highways serving sprawl with another funding mechanism. A massively increased gas tax would hit that $25k salary too.
Or now you want to massively subsidize those suburbs?

The CTRMA budget for the year has total toll/fee revenue at $119 million. This is a depressed value and will probably jump.

Bottom up approach toll costs listed
Total Processing and Collection Expense $6,291,000
Total Toll Operations Expense $6,538,900
Depreciation of Toll Equipment Dep Expense - Toll Equipment $4,000,000
Toll Consultants (I think you could justify some of the general consultants to add to this list too but I didn't)
GEC-Toll Ops Support $800,000
GEC-Technology Support $741,461
Traffic and Revenue Consultant $150,000

So total costs from a ~$119 million budget that are specific to supporting tolls is ~$18.5 million. That's without digging into any Salary and Benefits, Administrative costs (I grabbed some GEC from here for above), or communications.

Top down approach to costs give a total budget of $51 million of which only $7.2 million is spent on Operations and Maintenance
Total Roadway Operations and Maintenance $7,222,220

The true toll based costs is somewhere between the $18.5 million and $43.8 million.


I stand by my statement of 30% of toll revenue going towards toll processing and administrative support for tolls. I previously looked at this for NTTA which is a beast on a whole different level and that's where I got 30%. CTRMA may be closer to 20% to 30%. On $119 million in revenue there is $51 million for expenses and $42 million on top of that for just covering the accrued interest. Not a whole lot left over for principal payments. Obviously revenue will climb a bit back in when traffic is normal. The impending opening of the rest of 183 south will help on the revenue side as well. Still that debt is going to sit for a while.

As far as how to not to place a debt burden and still finance infrastructure projects in the long term I support raising taxes on corporations in and those earning more than $250,000 a year at the federal level. Short term tax increases may not be the best for right now so more debt. Stops this race to the bottom on taxes across the country without regressive things like gas or sales taxes.

Riverranchdrone Mar 9, 2021 5:30 AM

https://www.austintexas.gov/sites/de...ov_200_per.pdf

Just proves the point that these extremely expensive tollways segregate the poor.

KevinFromTexas Mar 9, 2021 7:40 AM

It seems to be an Austin thing because I see toll roads in Houston in what are generally accepted as "upscale" areas or at least, decent neighborhoods. I really hate toll roads. We hardly use them and always look for a way to avoid them. I sort of question their effectiveness.

Novacek Mar 9, 2021 12:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Riverranchdrone (Post 9211552)
https://www.austintexas.gov/sites/de...ov_200_per.pdf

Just proves the point that these extremely expensive tollways segregate the poor.

What does? All the toll roads on the rich side of town (see the ones I listed and the map)?

According to your map, we should also add the upper half of 130 as being in the non-poverty area.

ahealy Mar 9, 2021 1:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KevinFromTexas (Post 9211603)
It seems to be an Austin thing because I see toll roads in Houston in what are generally accepted as "upscale" areas or at least, decent neighborhoods. I really hate toll roads. We hardly use them and always look for a way to avoid them. I sort of question their effectiveness.

Totally. There is just something very wrong with how ours is set up. It's like "OK, you're priced out of Austin proper? Here, you have to live in this toll corridor where you've no choice but to pay if you want to get around".

....that's not even mentioning some of the lower income neighborhoods that already exist around them.

Novacek Mar 9, 2021 2:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Enghum (Post 9211543)

As far as how to not to place a debt burden and still finance infrastructure projects in the long term I support raising taxes on corporations in and those earning more than $250,000 a year at the federal level. Short term tax increases may not be the best for right now so more debt. Stops this race to the bottom on taxes across the country without regressive things like gas or sales taxes.

So you want _even more_ of a suburban subsidy than exists today? More sprawling highways completely disconnected from any concept of usage paying for them?

A removal of one of the few constraints on sprawl growth. Growth that we're already paying for in health and the environment, now you want us to spend even more general funds on it?

Riverranchdrone Mar 9, 2021 4:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Novacek (Post 9211650)
What does? All the toll roads on the rich side of town (see the ones I listed and the map)?

According to your map, we should also add the upper half of 130 as being in the non-poverty area.

You mean the ones not built yet?

Riverranchdrone Mar 9, 2021 4:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Novacek (Post 9211751)
So you want _even more_ of a suburban subsidy than exists today? More sprawling highways completely disconnected from any concept of usage paying for them?

A removal of one of the few constraints on sprawl growth. Growth that we're already paying for in health and the environment, now you want us to spend even more general funds on it?

Pretty sure the toll roads caused the sprawling growth.


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