Sen. Robert Nichols says there's no such thing as a 'free road,' all East Texans should care about toll roads

Published on Thursday, 11 August 2016 16:50 - Written by AUGUSTA ROBINSON, augustarobinson@tylerpaper.com

Although Loop 49 may be the only toll road regularly traveled by some East Texans, Texas Senate District 3 Sen. Robert Nichols said toll roads are something everyone in the region and the state should appreciate.

“I hear people say, 'I’d rather drive on a free road than a toll road,'” Nichols said. “Well there is no such thing as a free road. You’re either using tax money, which is hard to come by, or you’re going to charge somebody for actually using a new road.”

Nichols addressed the Tyler Area Builders Association on Thursday at the association’s annual Government Officials Appreciation Luncheon at Willow Brook Country Club. His talk focused on transportation funding and toll roads in Texas.

Nichols was elected to the Texas Senate in 2006 and represents 19 counties, including the greater part of East Texas and Montgomery County. He serves on a number of Texas Senate committees and is the chairman of the transportation committee.

“His legislation has done many things for our industry, not just in protecting us, but also in water rights and making sure that our area is safe,” John Nix, Tyler Area Association of Builders government relations chairman said when introducing Nichols at the event. “He’s constantly got business at the forefront of his agenda, as well as the well being of East Texas.”

Nichols said that while there is disagreement in the legislature about the need and importance for toll roads, they can be an effective way for roads to be built. He added that although Loop 49 is the only toll in the area, East Texans have good reasons to care about them.

“Even though toll roads are much more appropriate where there is a lot of congestion like the big urban areas, they have a lot of impact on us in the rural areas, because if the urban areas are not able to build the toll roads, then they are going to have to use our rural transportation money, which hurts our system,” Nichols said. “So that’s why it’s important for us to help them.”

While the luncheon was a way for the Tyler Area Builders Association to show their appreciation and support for many government officials, the association also took time to recognize this year’s beneficiaries of its 2016 Parade of Homes event.

Hope Haven of East Texas, Kingdom Life Academy and Make-A-Wish Foundation were all presented with checks for $4,500.

Twitter: @TMT_Augusta