September 25, 2015 brooke

Texas Transportation Commission Removes Toll Designation on US 281 North

Texas Transportation Commission Removes Toll Designation on US 281 North

Austin (Travis Co.) – At the request of a Bexar County delegation, the Texas Transportation Commission agreed on Thursday to remove the toll project designation on U.S. Highway 281 North.

Responding to a resolution from the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organzation, the commissioners voted unanimously to remove proposed improvements on a heavily congested section of US 281 from Loop 1604 to the Comal County line from the Texas Department of Transportation’s list of toll-funded projects.

A Bexar County delegation was present for the vote and speaking on their behalf was Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff, who started by thanking those entities that put funds into the project–TxDOT, VIA, Alamo Regional Mobility Authority, the MPO, city of San Antonio and others.

The section of highway under consideration has long been hampered by a lack of interchange lanes at 1604 and overpasses at traffic intersections. The needed improvements would cost about $500 million. The local stakeholders opted out of a toll funding option on the gamble that new funds might become available if Texas voters pass Proposition 7 in November.

Commissioner Jeff Austin II cautioned that the Bexar County decision was contingent upon Proposition 7 passing.

“I want to stress, ‘should future funding become available.’ We’re taking this vote as of today, and it’s a little presumptious to assume that Prop 7 will pass. I’m praying it passes. I just want to be careful that we recognize … this is a local decision. We want to support what the locals want. While we support that, I just don’t want to be ahead thinking that there’s going to be all this money there, because today it’s not. This could mean, in a worst case scenario, that some projects are put off,” Austin said.

Terri Hall, a spokesman for Texans for Toll Free-Highways, thanked the commissioners for removing the toll-funding designation, but complained that the project would still have restricted HOV bus lanes.

“Conversion of an unrestricted lane of traffic we have today will become a restricted HOV bus lane, so no new additional highway main lane capacity will be added to the corridor,” Hall said.

Phase 1 of the project is fully funded with $228 million in federal, state and local allocations. Phase II required $304 million and that is where Proposition 7 comes in.

Commissioner J. Bruce Bugg Jr., a San Antonio banker and also chair of The Tobin Endowment, made the motion.

Article originally published by Virtual Builders Exchange – Adolfo Pesquera