Thursday, March 08, 2007

"Where have you been the past two to three years?"

County, state leaders disagree on Cintra deal

March 08, 2007

McKinney Courier-Gazette
Copyright 2007

State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, announced in a released statement Tuesday that she opposes a deal made with Cintra to develop State Highway 121.

“I do not support the decision to award this contract to a foreign country,” she said. “Nor do I believe we have the full story about what we would be giving up for these upfront dollars.”

But Collin County Judge Keith Self said the delays have gone on long enough.

“Collin County must have S.H. 121 built,” he said. “Any further delay is going to cost Collin County economic development.”

Self said anyone who talks of delaying S.H. 121 needs to offer an alternative solution, something he said no legislator or bill has proposed thus far.

“We have no option at this point and anyone that talks about delaying S.H. 121 needs to offer an alternative solution,” Self said. “Nobody's done that.”

Collin County Commissioner Precinct 3 Joe Jaynes agreed with Self's sentiments.

“I'm not crazy about the process, but at the same time, I'm not hearing any alternative plans from the naysayers,” Jaynes said. “If they have a concern, that's great, but let us know how to fund those roads for the 102 vehicles we're adding every day in Collin County.”

State Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, said he feels the issue of control of the roadways should be over whether the control is public or private, not local or foreign since “we live in an age of globalization.”

“The larger issue is really whether or not the toll road should be operated by the private sector or agencies of the state,” he said. “I personally believe the most efficient way to operate the toll road is by it being operated by a state agency such as tollways that have been previously operated by the Texas Turnpike Authority.”

Carona also said he feels if the state gives the roads away to a private company, the state could miss out on a lot of revenue.

“It's potentially the richest stretch of roadway in the country in terms of revenue they've projected bringing in,” he said. “I'd rather see those dollars remain in public hands rather than see the bulk of the profits go to the private sector.”

But Jaynes said funds that have been going to the state through the gasoline tax have just been diverted to the general fund.

“Collin County is getting many, many times more road revenue with contracting with companies than we ever did with the state,” Jaynes said. “If these folks are so concerned about this, one, where have you been the past two to three years and two, give me a solution. If you can come up with a better way to give us $1 billion, we're all ears.”

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