Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Delays in taxpayer funded Trinity Park Toll Road boondoggle "unacceptable" to Dallas Councilmember

Trinity toll road delays could be costly


Copyright 2008

DALLAS - The already tight Trinity toll road planning and construction schedule may be slipping again, which could mean millions of dollars in higher costs.

The Dallas City Council got the news Tuesday.

Construction on the toll road is set to start July 2010, providing the highway's design is turned over to the Army Corps of Engineers in time next year. But Tuesday, the North Texas Tollway Authority would not commit to the deadline being met.

No dirt's been turned yet to build the toll road inside the Trinity River levees.

The mention that construction could be delayed further didn't go over well at city hall.

“I don't want to be talking about in March or April about, 'Oops, we're not going to make the deadline,'" said City Councilmember Dave Neumann, who chairs the Trinity River Corridor Project Committee. "That will not be acceptable.”

The NTTA plans to design and build the $1.4 billion highway.

The NTTA board hoped to approve design contracts in October, but they delayed the decision after questions came up about the selection process for minority contractors. The NTTA said that could delay turning over design work to the federal government for approval by the May 1 deadline set to keep the project on schedule.

“... That is going to be a challenge," said Dan Chapman, with the NTTA. "All I can tell you is that we're managing every bit of the process we can to help achieve that goal.”

The NTTA said it must take core samples of the soil in the east levee and the floodway.

And while they could start in January if the NTTA board approves the design contracts in two weeks, the wet weather could also wash away the deadline.

“If we keep all of our fingers crossed and hope that we get minimal rain over the next few months, but that is the major challenge," Chapman said.

Despite the possible delay, the committee recommended giving NTTA $4.5 million to continue planning.

“The city is stepping forward and funding with taxpayer dollars each step of the way," Neumann said. "NTTA needs to pull up their bootstraps and deliver that product by May 1.”

Any delay is not just politically unpopular. Every additional month costs the NTTA $10 million more.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

© 2008 WFAA-TV: www.wfaa.com

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE