Limited state funding coupled with population growth predictions have the Brazos Valley Council of Governments looking for alternative ways to build new roads. One way is to form a Regional Mobility Authority or RMA.
There could be a way to fund and build new roads faster. It's called a Regional Mobility Authority.
Michael Parks with the Brazos Valley Council of Governments is leading the efforts to form one in our area.
" What we're finding out about the RMA's that have already been created across the state, TXDOT Ash looked very favorable on those regions that are willing to help themselves. They then come along as partners and also put money into the area," said Parks.
A regional mobility authority is a political subdivision made up of one or more counties. Its main goal is to help finance and design transportation projects.
The RMA takes in money through grants and bond revenues, but most of it would come from toll roads.
" The benefit of RMA's is that you can move projects forward that you need now without having to wait for traditional sources of funding," said Brian Wood with TXDOT.
Wood says the Brazos Valley would benefit from an RMA since there usually isn't enough state funding for regional road projects. He says other benefits include generating revenue for other transportation priorities and more control for local governments in planning.
Once the bonds are paid off, counties and cities who are members of the RMA can use the money from the toll roads for other transportation needs.
" We can look at having another source of funding for local transportation projects. Projects for city streets, sidewalks, county roads and bridges, airports," said Parks.
But the plan does face some opposition from those concerned about losing property during land acquisition to build new highways.
" A lot of critics have said they don't want to pay for toll roads but the truth is it's really no road or a toll road in some cases," said Wood.
But creating an RMA is not a done deal. It will take the support of several counties in the Brazos Valley to get the idea moving forward.
" We see this as a win-win for our region and one that we're hopeful that all the counties in our region will look favorable upon," said Parks.
Parks is working on the application for an RMA. In order to be approved one or more county commission and the transportation commission in Austin has to approve it, and the potential RMA has to start with one single project.
Parks has meet with all county commissioners in the Council of Governments except for Brazos County. That meeting should happen sometime this summer. He says each county would have to pay roughly 5-thousand dollars to get an RMA started. Commissioners would also appoint someone to represent their county on the board.