Lawmakers Hault Privatization of Toll Roads

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Reports and surveys all say Texas is growing, and no where is it more noticeable than on Texas highways.

One popular plan to alleviate current and future congestion is the Trans-Texas Corridor 69. The multi-million dollar project would centralize thousands of miles of communication and transportation systems within the state.

However, the issue sparking the most disagreement is where the superhighway should go. District 5 State Senator Steve Ogden says the legislature should consider putting the system along the current system of roads

"Build the Trans-Texas Corridor along the existing Texas Trunk System," Ogden said.

That would place the Trans-Texas Corridor 69 along State Highways 36, 21, 30, and 6. Proposals have been heard that could possibly take the TTC 69 through Grimes and Madison Counties.

The exact path of the corridor has yet to be determined by the legislature. However, the issue of privatizing state highways seems to be making headway in both chambers of the state legislature.

Early this week, an amendment to House Bill 1892 proposed by District 13 State Representative Lois Kolkhorst passed through the House. It prohibits toll roads from being sold to privately-owned companies for the next two years.

Included in that moratorium is the portion of the Trans-Texas Corridor that would be developed and maintained by Cintra, an international group of engineering, construction and financial firms.

"The moratorium basically would stop doing this for a couple of years," Odgen said, "so that we can figure out if this is the way to go, and if not, what is the alternative."

Ogden has proposed a Senate version of the moratorium bill and is confident it will pass. He says the bill will give lawmakers more time to come up with a more favorable option.

"The legislature needs to put a hold on those until we can figure out if there's not a better way to address our traffic needs in Texas," Ogden said.

The bill could reach the Senate floor next week.