Thursday, October 09, 2008

Surprise! CAMPO will convert 290 East freeway into a toll road without public hearings .

Toll funds may underwrite new toll roads


KXAN-TV (Austin)
Copyright 2008

Exploding development and increased traffic continues to take a toll on Central Texas roadways. A proposed toll road is revving up controversy. The Manor Expressway will cost $623 million to build. Some said the way it is expected to be funded violates an agreement the CAMPO board made.

CAMPO Board Member and Travis County Commissioners Court member, Sarah Eckhardt, does not like the idea of using tolls collected from 183A as collateral to build the Manor Expressway toll road. Meanwhile, the director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority said in this credit crisis there are not many other options.

"The liquidity in the market place has dried up, so you have to use extraordinary means to keep your program going," said Mike Heiligenstein, CTRMA Executive Director.

Manor Expressway or 290 East project will go from 183, across 130 and run into Parmer Lane. It will stretch 6.2 miles and will have up to 12 lanes in some sections. Crews will rebuild the existing lanes of 290 as frontage roads and add six lanes between them. The $623 million project could start as soon as 2009 and be finished in 2013.

"The people of North Travis and Williamson County gain because 290E/Manor Expressway will be completed," said Heiligenstein.

Once the Manor Expressway is built, to drive on it motorists will pay from 15 to 20 cents each mile. CAMPO Board Member Eckhardt thinks the money paid by drivers on 183A should be used to maintain 183A. Eckhardt's biggest issue with the plan, however, is CAMPO is expected to move forward with the plan without public hearings.

"We developed a process ,so when it did come to question whether we would combine revenue from one road with another we would have that public conversation," said Eckhardt. "That is the promise we made."

Still each month the project is delayed is expected to cost an additional $5 million. CAMPO Board Members with vote on the issue on Monday, Oct. 13.

© 2008 KXAN-TV:

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