TxDOT voted 4 – 1 to give NTTA the contract. It’s all contingent on them getting a project agreement done with the RTC in 60 days and having the project funded, financial closing, within 45 days of the agreement being delivered.
If the deal doesn’t get done in this time frame then Cintra gets the deal. As Ric Williamson said, “Either way the deal is done today”.
[UPDATE]: Burka says anything more than 45 days is a good sign for the NTTA.
[UPDATE]: DMN has it’s story up. Commissioner Ted Houghton was the lone “no” vote:
Today, commissioners gave their conditional approval to the NTTAâ€™s Highway 121 proposal, which includes $3.3 billion in cash payments. But the commissionâ€™s vote is contingent upon working out the finalized business terms over the next 60 days.
The NTTA proposal would be terminated if the project does not close within 45 days after reaching that agreement. If that were to happen, commissioners said, they would accept the Cintra deal.
Commissioner Ted Houghton, who has frequently tangled with the NTTA during the Highway 121 bidding process, cast the sole dissenting vote.
[UPDATE]: (Last one). Pete Driscoll over at Move It! has his take, Dallas agency wins toll road. His post reminded me of the fact that Ric Williamson was adamant about keeping TxDOT staff out of the project agreement process. His reasoning was that he doesn’t want TxDOT getting blamed if a deal didn’t get done in time, protecting his staff. He also mentioned several times that he doesn’t like it when his staff gets maligned in the media by reporters using anonymous sources. Either way it was a point that hadn’t been mentioned yet and keeping TxDOT out of the room is what ultimately kept Mr. Houghton from voting for this:
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.