Thursday, July 02, 2009

Lite Gov. Dewhurst's 'thin' CDA scheme for privatized Spanish toll roads may be flattened by heavy opposition.

Dewhurst: Deal in works on private toll roads

Related Link: Dewhurst is one of the largest recipients of TTC contractor contributions


By Mike Ward
Austin American-Statesman
Copyright 2009

Faced with growing legislative opposition to privately built toll roads, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst told reporters just a few minutes ago that a deal is in the works to continue approval for a limited number of projects.

Earlier this afternoon, both a Senate committee and a House committee left pending bills that would extend the authority of the Texas Department of Transportation to approve privately built toll roads after Sept. 1.

Only three such projects are currently in the process of getting final approval, officials said.

“We have draft language (for a bill) that is being prepared … and there are a growing number of senators who are willing to look this … to consider this,” he told reporters after the Senate adjourned for the day.

“It would be a very thin CDA bill, (including) only those projects that would happen over the next two years … what’s in the pipeline now that needs to be built.”

The term CDA stands for comprehensive development agreement, a contract between private companies and TxDOT to build toll roads and then 'recoup their investment' through motorist-paid tolls.

Only three CDAs are in the pipeline, all in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. And senators from that area were among the most vocal opponents of continuing the practice when the bill came up for a hearing early this afternoon.

If enough senators agree on the wording by tomorrow, Dewhurst predicted the Senate could take up an amended version of Senate Bill 3 by late tomorrow or Friday.

He said he was meeting later this afternoon with House Speaker Joe Straus and Transportation Committee Chairman Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, to discuss the pared-down version of the bill.

Senators, though, remained unconvinced. Most said they do not see the issue coming to a vote due to continued heavy opposition.

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