TollRoadsNews, a staple of my daily Google Reader diet, is an interesting blend of news on developments in the toll road industry (as the name would imply) with the often-unhinged rants of site proprietor Peter Samuel on developments in the toll road industry. Of late, most of these rants have been in support of the beleaguered owners of Detroit’s Ambassador Bridge, who have so spectacularly failed in their efforts to make friends and influence people in the Detroit-Windsor area that politicians on both sides of the border have decided to put them out of business once and for all by building a nearby bridge to siphon off the company’s traffic; the latter are so irritated, in fact, that they’d apparently rather spend hundreds of millions on a new project from scratch than just exercise eminent domain over the Ambassador Bridge, which presumably would be a far less expensive option.
Today, however, Samuel turns his ire on a local TV reporter in Houston who has the temerity to point out that the Harris County Toll Road Authority has reneged on a promise made in the 1980s to remove tolls once the Sam Houston and Hardy toll roads were completed and their initial construction costs were recovered. Now, it is true that circumstances have changed since those promises were made, but it is also true that the promise was made in the first place and that similar promises made elsewhere have, at times, actually been fulfilled (for example, in the case of the Kentucky parkway system, albeit in some cases due to the generosity of the federal taxpayer at the behest of Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky).
At the very least, the public is owed an explanation from those who made the promises as to why they were not fulfilled, particularly if the initial promises were disingenuous, at best. I don’t think Samuel would disagree with this notion in the general case (for example, given his apparently-conservative politics, I’d imagine he’d have rather choice words for the Obamacare advocates who are championing its mythical cost-savings), so it is disappointing that in this particular case he seems to be giving public-sector tollers a pass.