The Toll Roads are Generating Millions in "Surplus" Revenue? Solution: More Wasteful Spending.
Updated: May 14
On Tuesday, 5/10/22, Democrats on Harris County Commissioners Court approved (3-2 vote) a plan to use $53 million dollars of "surplus" toll road revenue to build more bicycle paths. This plan, if fully implemented, would eventually build out 236 miles of trails at a total cost of $600 million dollars. Now, that's a huge amount of money. When that plan was presented, my first thought was, if the toll roads are generating that much “surplus” revenue, why don’t county officials simply lower the toll rates and give drivers a break? With the price of gas and everything else rising (inflation is sky-high), I'm sure Harris County residents would appreciate the price of something actually going DOWN. My second thought was, for a total of $600 million dollars, I can think of many higher-priority, transportation-related projects (such as adding lanes in strategic areas to relieve traffic congestion, updating/adding to our public transportation bus fleet, re-surfacing old roads, fixing potholes, improving drainage to prevent street flooding). Frankly, most people don’t even own a bicycle and those that do rarely bicycle to/from work (they drive or ride the bus). People also can't haul groceries, pick up kids from daycare, etc. on a bicycle. Even for recreation, it's often too hot and humid during the summer for people to pedal very far on a bike.
To be blunt, spending $53 million dollars now (and up to $600 million dollars total) to build more recreational bicycle paths/trails does almost nothing to help relieve Harris County traffic congestion or address our core transportation issues. When "surplus" revenue is identified, our elected Democratic leaders should REFUND it back to Harris County residents by lowering rates, not approve more wasteful government spending projects. This fall, when Commissioners Court is considering new county tax rates, voters will be reminded that Commissioners wasted $53 million "surplus" dollars on, of all things, new bicycle paths/trails (with future plans to spend a total of $600 million). Given all our needs throughout Harris County, I doubt people will agree "bike paths" was the best use of that "surplus" money.
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