Dallas toll agency grabs 121 toll road from Cintra!

Link to article here.

Another multi-billion dollar deal dies for Cintra. They’re not faring too well in Texas…let’s keep it that way!

Dallas agency wins toll road
By Pat Driscoll
June 28, 2007

The Texas Transportation Commission voted 4-1 today to let a local agency develop the Texas 121 tollway in North Texas rather than give it to Cintra of Spain for 50 years

Chairman Ric Williamson said it was the board’s first split vote.

But board member Ted Hougton didn’t cast the dissenting vote because he was opposed to letting the North Texas Tollway Authority finance and operate Texas 121.

He’s not happy because the order as written excludes the Texas Department of Transportation from helping the Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Transportation Council negotiate a contract with NTTA.

“This is part of the state highway system and I don’t think we can abdicate our responsibility,” Houghton said. “We have a role in that negotiation.”

Williamson said TxDOT’s reputation has been dragged through the mud enough over the issue in the past couple of years. State officials can watch negotiations, he said, and steer locals away from illegal rabbit holes, but that’s it.

“There is absolutely no benefit to our inserting our staff in this process to be once again blamed,” he said. “If we are in the negotiations it will inevitably fail.”

Williamson and Houghton did agree on something, and that was grousing about having to go through another dog and pony show over who develops Texas 121. Williamson said this is the third time around, and a contract with Cintra has been sitting for months ready to be signed.

“Talk is cheap,” the chairman said.

SB 792 from the last legislative session opened the latest round by invalidating a year-old protocol in which NTTA agreed not to bid on the project. Now the agency has made a bid, and the region’s transportation council recently voted 27-10 to accept the offer.

On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst sent a letter to Williamson to make sure he got the message.

“Local control was the legislative directive embedded in SB 792, and I feel this is the proper way to proceed with current and future transportation projects,” the letter says.

NTTA proposed paying more than Cintra in up-front cash, to be used for other area projects. But the agency also takes on the risk of traffic being lower than expected, which could mean higher tolls on its other roads.

Now NTTA has 60 days to hammer out an agreement with the transportation council and 45 days after that to come up with the money. If officials can’t do that, then TxDOT can sign with Cintra.

Look for links below as reports come in.

Cintra statement
TxDOT statement
State Sen. John Carona’s statement
State Sen. Robert Nichols’ statement
Toll Roads News assessment
Reuters report
Fort Worth Star Telegram report