Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Deadline to oppose 290 E tolling today--analysis from Jim Lutz

You can still register your opposition to tolling 290 E to CAMPO; deadline is today.

Here is more good analysis of the problems that a Manor Expressway/Tollway will cause 290 E travelers. Jim Lutz is a Manor-area resident.

Nov 18, 2008
To: CAMPO/CTRMA Officials….relating the the Manor Hearing on Nov 13, 2008 concerning the proposed “system” of joining 183A Tollway with the 290E Manor “Tollway” Expressway
I oppose combining the tollroads 183A with the proposed Manor Expressway based on the following concerns.

Can you afford to drive the 290East Tollway?
If you are an Austin resident wanting to slip away out of Austin to the east you have the option of driving on a “freeway” that is highway 71 East or the planned 290E tolled “Manor Expressway”. An occasional toll of $1.25 one way should not be bothersome to pay.
Alternatively if you are an east Travis County resident who must use 290East twice daily to drive to and from work into Austin, a two way daily $2.50 fee adds up to $12.50 weekly or $50 each and every month. Additional weekend trips into a grocery store are other activities increase this monthly expense. In 2013 dollars at the proposed opening of the Manor Tollway the tollrate will have increased to approximately $3.28 daily or $64.00 monthly based on the average CPI (Consumer Price Index) for the past ten years. The Manor Tollway is the only central Texas tollway to automatically increase the toll rate based either on the CPI (Consumer Price Index) or GSP (Gross State Products) formula, whichever is larger.
A Funding Snag
The $625 million dollar “Manor Expressway” or more accurately called the “Manor Tollway” had been preapproved by CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) over substantial protests by East Travis County area residents previously in local hearings. A snag has occurred in the proceedings, a preliminary traffic/revenue analysis indicates that our area residents expenditures on the planned tollway don’t add up to the necessary revenue to finance our Manor tollway.
In order for the numbers to justify it’s creation, the organization who is responsible for carrying out the nitty gritty of executing CAMPO’s plans, that is, the recently created CTRMA (Central Texas Regional Metropolitan Authority), has authored a new plan. That is to join as a “system” the currently operating “183A Tollway” built as an alternative route going NW toward Leander with the planned 290E Manor “Tollway” Expressway. 183A is the first and only project at this date that the CTRMA has planned and is responsible for.

Comparing the Driver’s Cost of the 290 “Tollroad” With Other Area Tollroads
TxDot (Texas Department of Transportation) operates 49 miles of north/south Tollway 130 which currently costs 12.2 cents a mile. It costs 11.5 cents per mile to travel on 45N and Loop 1 toll is 15 cents per mile according to TxDot officials. The toll for 45South between 130 and I35 south near Kyle is going to be 15 cents per mile when it opens in the near term. The rates for these roads can only laboriously be changed by approval of new transportation studies (traffic/revenue) authorized by the three elected members of the TTC (Texas Transportation Commission). Public input is a part of this process. These Tollways were designed to pay for themselves rather than being created as a “cash cow” as seed money for more tollways.
Alternatively the new regional roadway authority CTRMA charges 183ATollway drivers 27 cents a mile on the 6 miles of completed portions of 183A and provides 6 additional miles of non tolled access roads northwest of Austin. The CTRMA has the authority to raise the tolls for what the market will bear without additional hearings.
The Manor Tollway which also will be a project of the CTRMA will cost approximately 20 cents a mile at current prices and by opening date will cost approximately the current rate of 183A or in the range of 27 cents per mile. The CTRMA is planning for all of the tollways they operate to have the same per mile cost to the public.
Profit from these managed roads by CTRMA can go toward other transportation projects as monies are available.

The Manor “Tollway” Expressway and 183A Tollway System
The hearings in Manor last week on Nov 12th and 13th were a requirement for CAMPO and the CTRMA to get approved the joining into a “system” of the existing 183A tollway and the “Manor Tollway”. By creating this “system” the roadway authority can better financially justify the funding for the proposed 290E tollway. The meetings were the citizens opportunity to have input into this process. Comments were to be turned in within a week on Wed. November 19th by mail or email.
CAMPO’s email address is
The hearing presentation was presented in a 10 minute power point presentation about the advantages of creating the “system” to make the entire project more affordable for the public. There was no detail whatsoever about the comparison of actual costs to local consumers for this project. The above information is the result of two days of phoning TxDot, CAMPO and CTRMA officials and going through web content for these entities.
Inadequate Public Discussion and Comment Time Provided
For citizens unable to attend the hearings there has been inadequate opportunity to learn about the respond to the presentation. Public comment was to be turned in at the meeting or within 7 days of the hearings. Our weekly local newspaper, the Manor Messenger, comes out each Thursday preventing information about the meeting to be published preceding the deadline for public comment.

No Representation of the Manor Community on the 20 member Transportation Board
Perhaps the reason no local, state or federal funds are included in the funding for the Manor “Tollway” Expressway is that there is no local representation on the 20 member CAMPO board demanding fairness on our behalf. The board is made up of elected officials, none of whom directly represent the Manor area except State Senator Kirk Watson who as chairman of the CAMPO board due to a conflict of interest does not vote on the Manor tollroad having a fiduciary interest in it’s construction. There are 5 mayors on the CAMPO board from the 3 county area but not the Mayor of Manor. There are 5 county commissioners or elected county officials on the CAMPO board but not the county commissioner for Manor.
Economic Advantage to Manor
If and when the Manor “Tollway” Expressway comes our way it may prove to be beneficial in many respects and ultimately enhance our economic future. I resent rather the lack of regard and the manipulation of the public by the officials responsible. The lack of usable and comparable factual information related to this process and inadequate time for public response contributes to the distain the public has toward our elected officials.
The creation of a Manor Tollway rather than address the problems of the Manor bottleneck of rush hour traffic to and from daily commutes to Austin will instead exacerbate this problem. I was told by a Tx Dot official that because of Manor citizens opposition to the tollroad at previous hearings the resolution of 290 East traffic resolutions through the city of Manor has been postponed to a later date. Unfortunately the planning by business interests for commercial endeavors benefiting our community rests on the planning and acceptance of a final 290 traffic plan through Manor by state and city officials.

Making the Manor “Tollway” Expressway Palatable
If there is no other means of securing funding….
The CAMPO board should endeavor to secure funding for a of 33% to 50% of the $625 million budget from the state or federal funds. Postpone construction until reasonable partial funding is available. The citizens who daily will be forced to use this tollroad are the most economically disadvantaged group within Travis County and can least afford the extra expenses involved.
Future funding for paying down the debt of this roadway should be pursued when the federal resolution to highway construction expenses is addressed in the near term.
Funding for this facility should eliminate “built in” profit for the advancing of other CTRMA transportation endeavors.
Maintenance for the roadway should be be paid for by funds made available to TxDot consistent with TxDot responsibilities for maintenance of other state highways.
The tollway must be made affordable for the daily users of this roadway rather than the occasional user.
Please call it the “Manor Tollway” and not the Manor “Expressway”.

In fairness,
Jim Lutz
14812 FM 973N
Manor, Tx. 78653

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