We don't need a toll road;
we need overpasses on 281!

In 2003, TxDOT had the clearance and the gas taxes for the expansion and overpasses on Hwy 281 north of Loop 1604. Now they want to convert this freeway, already built and paid for, into a toll road. For no other reason than to DOUBLE TAX motorists. The purpose of this web site is to inform and educate you, the taxpayer, as to what’s really going on and how to get the non-toll fix built on 281. Our battle cry? Build the 281 overpasses NOW!

281 Toll Project

Monday, May 19, 2014
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View our concerns here

Comments can also be submitted electronically

Written comments may be mailed to:

Attention: Mike Chavez
125 E. 11th Street
Austin, TX 78701-2483


Take Note...

281 Timeline

Original Gas Tax Plan


Toll Plans


Truth Be Tolled is essential viewing for anyone who wants to understand how big money interests and government bureaucrats are hell bent on tolling Texas highways in spite of an overwhelming taxpayer opposition.
Freeway Plan Hijacked for Toll/Transit Lanes

Bexar County Commissioner drops promised non-toll plan

Click to view video clipExplosive Video! After authoring a resolution that passed March 26, 2012, to specifically add NEW non-toll capacity (both main lanes and frontage roads) to 281, County Commissioner Kevin Wolff who continued to push for non-toll expansion just days before this June 25, 2012 vote, flip flops and votes to include HOV transit/toll lanes on 281 — converting two existing lanes that are already 100% paid for into toll lanes. To charge drivers tolls to use lanes that we drive on today toll-free is a MASSIVE DOUBLE TAX. The toll authority has said on the record, it plans to charge these tolls in perpetuity!

MPO voted to increase our taxes through tolls again in 2012

Click to view video clipFailed again When the board took action to amend its short-range (TIP) and long-range plans (MTP) at its August 27, 2012 meeting, it not only failed to abide by its own bylaws, it once again failed to properly notify the public about its proposal to toll US 281 and Loop 1604 in Bexar County. The MPO's bylaws require a two-step process, which includes a 30-day public comment period, and an even greater level of disclosure on its agenda before any action can take place.
The numbers don't add up

Ten miles on 1604 West are being expanded NON-TOLL, with 5 overpasses for $200 million or $20 million/mile ($20 million was taken from 281 to complete this project on 1604). Yet according to the MPO plan adopted in 2012, TxDOT and local leaders want to charge taxpayers $440 million for an 7.3-mile expansion of 281 ($110 million in non-toll or $37 million/mile for the first three miles, and $330 million for toll elements throughout the 7.3 miles at $45 million/mile for a total cost of $60 million/mile for both the toll & non-toll elements).

One of the things driving up the cost is the 9 overpasses planned on 281. It's OVERKILL -- 9 overpasses in less than 8 miles! Some of the overpasses are planned at entrances to subdivisions of TxDOT employees are NOT a city or county road (they're private subdivision roads). The original expansion plan for 281 included 6 overpasses. While the consultants who did the environmental study on 281 argue the traffic volume warrants the overpasses, every subdivision is not entitled to their own overpass, and the use of frontage roads and turnarounds will facilitate needed travel across 281 in the absence of an overpass, just as it does south of Loop 1604 on 281. With 6 overpasses in 7.3 miles, no traveler will have to go far to get across 281.

Free lanes will be converted to toll lanes - a DOUBLE TAX

US 281 will only have 3 miles of non-toll main lanes (versus 10 miles of non-toll lanes on the 1604 West project), while north of Marshall Road, ALL six main lanes will be tolled. There are currently 6 non-toll main lanes until Evans Rd. and 5 non-toll main lanes to Stone Oak Pkwy., yet only 4 non-toll lanes will be available AFTER this toll project is implemented.

So two non-toll main lanes are being converted to tolled/HOV transit lanes, using millions in YOUR tax dollars to simply re-arrange the pavement. TxDOT and local politicians are attempting to get away with this by counting the merging lanes from the northern ramps of the interchange as part of the 'free lane' count, but, of course, those lanes are only available to those entering 281 from 1604.

So with a net loss in lane capacity, the free lanes will remain congested even with the welcome addition of overpasses. It's a way to force more cars into the toll lanes, by keeping the free lanes congested -- not to mention a massive DOUBLE TAX to charge Texans twice for what they've already built and paid for.

2009 Vote on Tolling 281/1604

Throw the bums out!
San Antonio MPO votes to toll AGAIN...

FINAL SAMPO VOTE: 281/1604 left in toll plan

In October, 2009, these MPO members who voted to toll your EXISTING FREEWAYS despite 800 people packing the room and one hundred testifying AGAINST tolls. In total there was five and a half hours of testimony against tolling our existing freeways, 13 MPO Board members still voted in favor. Only 7 people testified in favor of tolls, and they were the Greater Chamber of Commerce, the North Chamber of Commerce and those who work for the highway lobby. It was over 90% AGAINST tolls. This should sound the alarm quite clearly that our elected officials no longer represent us. It's taxation without representation!

Texas Legislature Weighs In
Click to view a video clip

Lawmakers fume over freeway to tollway conversion of 281 -

The Texas Department of Transportation, or TxDOT, is among 12 state agencies up for sunset review in 2009. If the agency is found to no longer fulfill a useful public purpose, it will "sunset." A group of Legislators called the Sunset Commission is tasked with reviewing the agencies and finding waste, fraud, or bad management practices. This video clip shows a portion of TURF's Founder, Terri Hall, testifying before the Commission about the conversion of the 281 freeway into a tollway. Representative Linda Harper-Brown makes it clear that TxDOT/ARMA is violating the legislative intent of the law, HB 2702, that prohibits the conversion of freeways into tollways. 

In June 2008, the Sunset Committee issued a scathing report of TxDOT stating that many expressed TxDOT is "out of control," advancing its own agenda against the objections of both the Legislature and the public. It also said until trust is restored, TxDOT cannot effectively meet the state's transportation needs. The report recommended placing TxDOT under a legislative conservatorship, abolishing the Transportation Commission and replacing it with a single commissioner, and returning the control over transportation policy to the Legislature.

Click to view video clip

Local board votes to toll despite overwhelming public opposition - 

On December 3, 2007,  the San Antonio Metropolitan Planning Organization (or SAMPO), cast one of the most controversial votes in its history. Before a capacity crowd (over 200 people in the middle of a workday, with 30+ citizens denied access, forced to wait outside and who never had their voices heard), the Board voted to approve undisclosed financial terms from a 281 "market valuation study" that even Legislators and MPO Board members could not see or review prior to the vote. SAMPO also voted to give $325 million in non-toll public subsidies, called Texas Mobility Funds, to the 281 and Loop 1604 toll projects, funds that could be used to keep them FREEways.This is proof positive that toll roads aren't about lacking non-toll funds, it's about raiding your wallet! A handful of members of the toll lobby are also seen in this video, including actual bidders who will directly profit from the 281 toll project. Their financial interest in the project was never disclosed prior to their comments. They were given preferential treatment during the meeting and allowed to testify before ordinary taxpayers, who had taken time off work to testify.

Leading up to this vote, Chairwoman Sheila McNeil and other MPO Board members, met behind closed doors with toll interests such as Valero giving them a private briefing of the financial terms with information the public was not privy to. McNeil also revealed her bias in this video where she told residents in her east side district who objected to the 281 toll project that "those people over by 281 can afford the toll roads. The average income out there is over $300,000 a year." She then said if they try to toll I-35 in her district, that then "we can talk." 

The Original Gas Tax Funded Plan
Click to view video clip

The original gas tax funded plan for 281 included overpasses, expansion, and frontage roads. Public hearings promising the fix occurred in 2001, the gas tax funds became available in 2003. The improvements should have been built by now.

But then in late 2003 everything changed...

Read about this plan.


For in-depth information visit these sites: