Texas counties weigh tolling options

| Thursday, September 14, 2006

Commissioners in Dallas County, TX, say the local economy would suffer if new roads were tolled.

The commission asked staff at a meeting this week to provide funding options, besides tolls, for future roads.

Dallas County currently has two toll roads, with proposals on the table for several new roads.

One county commissioner, Kenneth Mayfield, was quoted by local television as saying toll revenue diverted to education delays progress on road projects.

The Texas Department of Transportation shares 66 percent of fuel taxes with state education programs.

Six hundred miles to the west of Dallas, in the Brazos Valley, a regional council of governments is thinking toll roads will be necessary to fund new projects.

The Brazos Valley Council of Governments formed a consensus at its annual meeting this week that the planned Texas 249 from Navasota to Houston, also known as the Aggie Expressway to be built in 2013, should be a strong candidate to become a toll road.

Regional Texas governments have been authorized to build and operate toll roads since 2001, according to the Texas Legislature.

Brazos Valley, with seven counties represented in the regional council, has identified $325 million in potential funding, but has a $1.05 billion list of transportation needs, the Bryan-College Station Eagle reported.

College Station has $19 million set aside for roads in 2007, but its list of needs tops $121 million, the Eagle reported.

Commissioners have not determined how much revenue a regional toll road would generate.

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