Fancy Fairchild, area resident and long-time opponent of tolling 290 E, has written the following letter in rebuttal to the CTRMA's Heiligenstein:
"Mike Heiligenstein, Exec. Director of CTRMA, and other people who work for that agency have given 'misleading public information' (a nice way of saying it) to the public on several occasions.
At the Environmental, Social, and Economic Impact Hearing on August 8, 2008, CTRMA spokesmen said that with their toll plan there would be 3 free lanes on 290 E with no charge for flyover bridges. They said it would cost an estimated 15 cents per mile in 2010 to drive on the toll road, with the rate to be raised 2.75% annually.
"A couple of months after this hearing, CTRMA asked CAMPO to approve a new plan essentially changing the number of free lanes from 3 to 2 and charges for using flyover bridges (with new bridges added to the plan). Their new plan also changes the way the rates are decided so that a higher percentage of rate can be charged. With the new plan, the costs of driving the toll road would greatly increase.
"The 'free lanes' Mr. Heiligenstein continually promises would not be like the freeway we currently use. Last year during a meeting at the Blackland Prairie citizen’s organization, CTRMA’s Assistant Exec. Director Amadeo Saenz admitted that the speed limit on the 'free' lanes would average 35 mph and that several lights would be added in order to (and I quote) 'force people to drive on the toll road.'
"It’s too bad TXDOT, CTRMA, and other transportation agencies did not do what they should have done all along: create a viable, affordable plan to deal with 290 East traffic with the money they already have. A lawsuit is apparently the only way to get them to do that. The 290 East toll project is so frail it has to be propped up with federal stimulus money meant to provide aid to citizens. Federal stimulus funds should not finance an expensive and unnecessary toll road whose profits will go to perpetuate even more toll roads."