Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NTTA stays mum on SH 161 Toll Road conversion deal

Will SH 161 Toll Road Open On Time?

NTTA Has Until Wednesday To Bid On Toll Road Or Pass To Private Firm


Jack Fink Reporting
CBS 11 News (Dallas)
Copyright 2008

The future of State Highway 161 is up in the air thanks to the worldwide credit crisis.

The North Texas Tollway Authority has until this Wednesday to bid for operating the toll road or pass it to a private firm to develop.

NTTA's chairman isn't giving any clues what his agency will do. "Our 161 consideration will be addressed Wednesday," said Paul Wageman.

Monday, NTTA announced it's borrowing $100 million from Bank of America to pay off some of its debt on SH 121. But it still has to sell $125 million worth of short term bonds by November 19.

The NTTA paid the regional government $3.2 billion last year for the right to build the road and collect tolls.

NTTA says the credit crunch has made it difficult.

"It's the fact that there is very little or no credit out there right now and the access to the credit markets are almost non-existent," said Wageman. "We're dealing in a very challenging environment and working hard to make sure we have all the financial flexibility that we need to do these projects."

But a recent offer by one of the region's chief transportation planners would have allowed NTTA to avoid the markets and credit crisis altogether while simultaneously allowing the region to open five new toll roads on time.

NTTA's spokeswoman says their board considered the plan, but ultimately wasn't interested.

© 2008 CBS Broadcasting Inc.: www.cbs11tv.com

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