Ric Williamson: “It deeply concerns me that the toll payers in North Texas Deep could be overpaying.”
August 23, 2007
By MICHAEL A. LINDENBERGER
The Dallas Morning News
The impending deadline for the North Texas Tollway Authority to reach an agreement with the state to build Highway 121 has been cancelled, and the tolling authority has been given more time.
At its meeting Thursday in Austin, the Texas Transportation Commission voted unanimously to cancel its previous order setting an Aug. 29 deadline for NTTA to reach an agreement with the department of transportation to build the road.
The deadline became unworkable, according to TxDOT staff, because the long-expected federal environmental clearance has not been issued by the federal government. Without the federal clearance, the agreement cannot be signed, TxDOT said.
In addition, the Commission voted unanimously to cancel its original agreement with Spanish builder Cintra, essentially guaranteeing that NTTA will build the project.
Despite the unanimous support for giving the contract to NTTA, several commissioners said they continue to doubt the wisdom of accepting NTTA’s bid, but said their hands had been tied by legislation passed during the most recent session of the Legislature.
NTTA’s bid included a promise to pay $3.33 billion upfront in return for operating the toll road for the next 50 years—a much richer offer than the $2.88 billion Cintra had offered.
In a twist, Chairman Ric Williamson said he’s worried the NTTA’s offer is too generous. He said toll payers are at risk of having to pay higher tolls down the road should NTTA’s traffic estimates prove to be overly optimistic. .
“It deeply concerns me that the toll payers in North Texas Deep could be overpaying,” Mr. Williamson said.
© 2007 The Dallas Morning News Co
To search TTC News Archives click
To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click