Tx-249 Tollway likely to cause traffic congestion, safety issues, as drivers seek to avoid it

Only Mexican trucks and drivers will want to use the Tx-249 Tollway, because they won’t have to pay for it

Magnolia, September 11 – The $646 million tollroad that the Texas Department of Transportation along with Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley and Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal intend to make into an extension of the Tx-249 highway will likely cause traffic congestion and safety issues as drivers seek to avoid the tolls on it.

The Harris County Toll Road Authority will administer the 3.6 mile portion which Riley and Doyal want Montgomery County to construct from Spring Creek to Spur 149 in Pinehurst at a whopping cost of $73 million. Tx-DOT will administer the remainder of the tollroad from Pinehurst to Todd Mission.

Of course, since the elected leaders of Grimes County have successfully represented the citizens there in their enormous opposition to a toll road, the Grimes County portion of the future “Aggie Expressway” will be a free road. Since Riley and Doyal betrayed Montgomery County voters and lied to the Texas Transportation Commission that Montgomery County was “unified in support” for a tollroad on June 27, 2017, during an Austin hearing, Riley and Doyal will stick Montgomery County citizens with the harmful effects of a tollroad.

Toll roads divert traffic away to other areas

Riley has repeatedly said in the Commissioners Court and in public speeches that he wants the Tx-249 Tollway boondoggle, because he’s concerned about traffic congestion in Magnolia. What he’s failed to mention is that tollroads historically have caused congestion rather than alleviate it.

In 1939, the United States Bureau of Public Highways issued it April 27 report, Toll Roads and Free Roads, to the 76th Congress. The Bureau presented the following findings after a detailed econometric and traffic pattern analysis:

  • Toll roads deter traffic from using them, as people will look for alternate non-toll routses.
  • Toll roads will only provide sufficient revenue if there is already substantial traffic in an area and the traffic has little choice but to use an already-existing road that becomes tolled.
  • Toll roads would never be able to fund the federal highway system.

The 1939 findings of the United States Government generally agree with later studies as well, most prominently the work of Peter Swan of Pennsylvania State University and Michael Belzer of Wayne State University who have together conducted a number of empirical studies of traffic behavior with respect to toll roads.

In their May 10, 2010, research article, “Empirical Evidence of Toll Road Traffic Diversion and Implications for Highway Infrastructure Privatization,” Swan and Belzer concluded:

““Diversion is substantial [away from tollroads], and elasticity becomes increasingly negative with higher tolls.”

Swan and Belzer had previously presented other empirical work to the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C. They concluded that toll roads have substantial negative side effects on secondary road networks.  In 2008, Swan and Belzer wrote:

“If private operators — or public operators for that matter — set toll rates to maximize profit where congestion is not a significant problem, they can introduce substantial inefficiencies in the overall road transportation network and actually increase congestion and safety hazards in other parts of the system that they do not own and control.

These inefficiencies, the cost of which are borne by the public and not by the private toll road owner who is focused on profit for his particular part of the network, can only exist when private operators control particular strategically located roads through a purchase or long-term lease.”

A 2013 study for the North Carolina Department of Transportation by an independent group found that tolls make roadways less safe by disrupting traffic patterns and that traffic diversion is a serious problem, leading to crowding of secondary roads near toll facilities. The NCDOT concluded that tolls would cause substantial traffic diversions that would “contribute to delays, traffic accidents, and accelerated deterioration of smaller secondary roads not built for such high use.”

NCDOT and a later 2016 study as well reported in Roll Call on May 29, 2016, also found that congestion caused by toll diversion delays response times for emergency personnel who rely on alternative routes to get quickly to and from accidents and emergencies, thereby raising legitimate public safety concerns.

Thanks to Riley’s and Doyal’s insistence on construction of the Tx-249 Tollway in order to funnel money to their favored political contributors, Montgomery County will likely suffer:

  • Diversion delays for emergency personnel;
  • Increased maintenance costs for county roads in the vicinity of the tollroad;
  • Increased traffic accidents, injuries, and property damage in the vicinity of the tollroad; and
  • Harm to the businesses along the tollroads because of the increased congestion.

There’s a reason that a giant community has developed on the Internet to avoid toll roads. Apple Computer has an entire “Apple Support Community” dedicated entirely to “avoid toll roads.” There are iPhone apps to assist drivers from avoiding toll roads. Uber has developed protocols in every major city in the United States to assist their drivers to avoid toll roads.

Riley and Doyal are creating a huge mess with the Tx-249 Tollway, not even to mention the $13.4 million of County general funds from tax revenue that they’ve already blown on the crazed project. It’s truly the Decimation of Hope Highway.

Here’s what the Magnolia area may look forward to, when Riley and Doyal turn Tx-249 into a tollway that drivers will want to avoid.









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