Thursday, May 29, 2008

Toll Road Guiding Principles - A Positive Step for TxDOT

An important decision and announcement has come out of the Texas Transporation Commission regarding toll roads. Transportation Commission Affirms Toll Road Building Principles:

AUSTIN – The Texas Transportation Commission today adopted guiding principles and policies that will govern the development, construction and operation of toll road projects on the state highway system and the Trans-Texas Corridor.

The Commission's unanimous vote reaffirms policies and the requirements of state law regarding toll projects, particularly involving the use of comprehensive development agreements (CDA). The Commission's action today reflects the comments we have received from Texas drivers, legislators and members of our citizen advisory committees," said Commission Chair Deirdre Delisi. "Texans deserve a clear, straightforward explanation of what we are doing to solve our transportation challenges and how we are doing it."

The Texas Transportation Commission is a five-member board appointed by the Governor to oversee the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

The Commission reaffirmed its commitment to meet or exceed the requirements of state law on five key issues:

  • All state highway facilities, including the Trans-Texas Corridor, will be completely owned by the State of Texas at all times.
  • All Comprehensive Development Agreements will include provisions that allow TxDOT to purchase or "buy back" the interest of a private developer in a CDA at any time if buying back the project would be in the best financial interest of the state.
  • The Texas Transportation Commission shall approve, in a public meeting, the initial toll rates charged for the use of a toll project on the state highway system and the methodology for increasing the amount of tolls. All rate-setting actions will come after consultation with appropriate local metropolitan planning organizations.
  • Only new lanes added to an existing highway will be tolled, and there will be no reduction in the number of non-tolled lanes that exist today.
  • Comprehensive development agreements will not include "non-compete" clauses that would prohibit improvements to existing roadways. The Department and any governmental entity can construct, reconstruct, expand, rehabilitate or maintain any roadway that is near or intersects with any roadway under the CDA.

In recognition of the Texas Legislature's commitment to protecting landowners' property rights and in following the department's long-standing practice with other transportation projects, the commission affirmed two additional principles:

  • TxDOT will always consider the use of existing right of way that satisfies the purpose and need of the project as a possible project location when conducting environmental studies.
  • To the extent practical, TxDOT shall plan and design facilities so that a landowner's property is not severed into two or more separate tracts and the original shape of the property is preserved.

"These principles will help guide TxDOT as we work to improve our state's traffic congestion and air quality problems," said Delisi. "The Texas Legislature shares our commitment to improving highway safety and creating economic opportunity, and they expect us to meet these goals in keeping with our state's tradition of protecting the rights of property owners."

Delisi said that the Trans-Texas Corridor implementation plan "Crossroads of the Americas," should be updated to reflect changes in the state's transportation challenges since it was first released in June of 2002.

"As we work to develop important projects like a parallel corridor to I-35 and the long-awaited I-69, we will work toward meeting our goals with these important principles in mind," she said.

TxDOT Deputy Executive Director Steve Simmons reported to the commission that input for the principles included comments from members of the Corridor Advisory Committees and more than 27,000 comments received during the public involvement process for I-69/TTC. He noted that TxDOT has worked with members of the Legislature to address their concerns with TxDOT's work to develop toll roads. Simmons also recalled former Transportation Chair Ric Williamson's dedication to involving Texans in the department's work.

The Texas Department of Transportation

The Texas Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining nearly 80,000 miles of road and for supporting aviation, rail and public transportation across the state. TxDOT and its 15,000 employees strive to empower local leaders to solve local transportation problems, and to use new financial tools, including tolling and public-private partnerships, to reduce congestion and pave the way for future economic growth while enhancing safety, improving air quality and increasing the value of the state's transportation assets. Find out more at

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