Newsweek confirms that Austin ranks as the sixth city in its top ten list of the cities with the most congested roads. (March 21, 2011) I thought it was just us Texans being whiny. We are the only Texas city to appear in the ranking.
This helps explain how the toll roads next to my house were approved and built with dizzying speed. The citizens of Austin demanded roads. But when the government came to them to finance these roads - they refused.
Governments have limited options when it comes to revenue:
Tax? The citizens said NO
Fees? Can we charge you a toll? Citizens said NO
Debt? Will you allow us to issue bonds to finance the roads? Heck no!
Check with the feds... any grants available for road construction? Nope.
Well, we are going to have to sell equity in the government, then. What?
Yes, Texas government leased land to a Spanish engineering conglomerate who agreed to build our needed roads IF they could collect all of the tolls and if the State would pay for all repairs. Those toll roads went up so fast it was amazing. Yes, you can build a major stretch of road in six months - if you are properly motivated.
Remember how Texas and Mexico were once one country and how Mexico broke off with Spain? Seems that the Spanish have the last laugh. They're back. And they are profiting from our government's poor planning and our citizen's refusal to pay for growth. Viva toll roads!