Saturday, October 18, 2008

"A three-legged stool. "

Commissioners consider tolling Grand Parkway


By Debbie Bradley
The Katy Times
Copyright 2008

The Fort Bend County Commissioner’s Court met Tuesday, signing off on a resolution that establishes the terms and conditions that make Grand Parkway a toll road.

The resolution was in partnership with the Harris County Toll Road Authority, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Transportation Policy Council.

“What this is is that, several months ago, we authorized the Harris County Toll Road Authority to negotiate…with TxDOT as a three-legged stool – that’s the Harris County Toll Road Authority, TxDOT and Transportation Policy Council,” Pct. 4 Commissioner James Patterson said.

“The Transportation Policy Council approved these terms and conditions. Harris County Toll Road Authority has approved the part of our original resolution that said we had final veto power so as we agree. All this is is the very first step…to where now they can go through with a market valuation if TxDOT requires it.

"They may not require it, but you have seen some forward movement on segment E, and this is a part of the process.”

These terms will set the bar for the scope of work, the initial toll and toll rate increases along the proposed 180-mile loop around Houston.

According to the terms, Grand Parkway will be a tolled, two- to six-lane road with overpasses at major intersections and direct connections with other major thoroughfares.

“What you are building toward is that these are the terms and conditions for the whole 180 miles,” Patterson said.

“So you hope that at some point you are able to sit down and have TxDOT agree with some entity that, here is how long it is going to take to build this road and put together a contract for, say, 30 years.

“Fifteen or 20 years from now, segment A, B, C might be viable. Segments E and F right now are highly viable. Probably the overpasses on D are viable. But if you take the income from those segments and roll them to C, F too or G, you start making those pieces highly viable. Or, if nothing else, you are able to go out and build some free service roads.”

Under the conditions of the resolution, the initial toll rate can not exceed the average per mile toll rates on the Harris County Toll Roads.

Any method used to increase the toll rates for Harris County will be used on Grand Parkway.

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