Thursday, June 25, 2009

Perry and special interest groups rally to salvage private toll road monopolies [CDA's] in Special Legislative Session

Toll Road Expansion Tops Special Session Agenda

session set to begin on Wednesday

Spanish toll road monopoly deal


By Jim Forsyth
KQXT-FM Q101.9
Copyright 2009

Transportation and toll roads will be front and center next week, in a Special Session of the Texas Legislature which Governor Rick Perry today ordered to begin on Wednesday, 1200 WOAI news reports.

All three items on the governor's 'call' deal with transportation. Perry said today he expects the session to be brief, possibly ending July 3.

"I talked to Joe Straus this morning, David (Dewhurst) last night, and they both feel that their members are committed to getting in here, and addressing the issues at hand," Perry said today.

One of the items calls on lawmakers to extend the authority of the Texas Department of Transportation and local Regional Mobility Authorities to use 'comprehensive development agreements' to design, finance, build, and maintain 'transportation infrastructure.'

CDA's are the vehicle that the state uses to invite private companies to build and operate toll projects. The only five CDA's entered into so far involve toll projects, including a contract with the international partnership of Cintra Zachry to build State Highway 130, and an agreement with ZAI/ACS to build what is now called TTC-69, a tollway to run from the Rio Grande Valley to east Texas.

"I am calling a special session to extend the operation of five critical agencies and help reduce gridlock by continuing to provide options for financing our state's highways," Perry said.

In his vetoes of measures passed by the regular session last week, one of the key vetoes was a measure which would have prohibited TxDOT from using taxpayer money to promote toll roads.

Perry also called on lawmakers to extend the life of TxDOT and four other state agencies which were set to go out of existence under the state's Sunset Law.

Another measure on the table will be to allow TxDOT to issue $2 billion in general obligation bonds to pay for transportation projects. Lawmakers can discuss only the items submitted to it by the governor.

The length of a Special Session, unlike the length of a Regular Session, is indefinite.

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