There are quite a few people who might disagree with me on this, but toll roads are better for everyone. Most of those people live in Austin which is the last of the major Texas cities to jump on the toll road bandwagon, but in the end will likely have the most toll roads per capita of any of the Texas cities.
How are toll roads better for everyone? The next few days I’ll tackle a few of the myths in an attempt to inform people about toll roads. I’m a transportation engineer, so I do have a stake in this fight which may be seen as a bias, but I’m not making any of this stuff up, this is my understanding of the situation.
There are three common misunderstandings regarding toll roads.
Myth # 1: It’s Double Taxation! I’m paying twice for a road!
The first myth is double taxation, that you are paying twice to use the road. That’s assuming the gas tax pays for the toll road, which it doesn’t. Even the TxDOT-run toll roads are funded by large loans from banks and grants from the federal government. They don’t come out of either the state or federal tax. The toll you pay is to pay back the financing money and interest required for construction and pays for maintenance. It has nothing to do with the gas tax.
Your gas tax was designed and intended to pay for free TxDOT roadways, which are Interstates, State Highways, some FM and RM roads. It doesn’t always play out like that as it is often used for other agencies at the state which continues to decrease the amount for roads. The gas tax in Texas totals to 38.4 cents/gallon of gasoline, which includes 18.4 cpg to the federal government and 20 cpg to the state. It hasn’t changed since 1991 despite rising prices of construction.
Your county property tax assists the county in paying for county roadways and a portion of the sales tax collected within the city limits pays for city public works and roadways. State sales tax is 8.25 cents on the dollar, the state collects that sales tax and then remits 2 cents of it back to Austin. 1 cent to the city, 1 cent to Capital Metro to ruin public transportation (sarcasm).
So the common idea that Toll Roads are double taxation and you are paying twice just isn’t a reality. The money actually goes into the roadway itself and additional roads and is more guaranteed to improve transportation locally in the long run than the gas tax itself.
Come back tomorrow for more…