Feds Could Cause Trouble With NTTA, SH 121 Toll Deal

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Privatization, Road Issues at 10:54 am by wcnews

It’s a done deal except for one small thing. All that stands between the NTTA and sending it’s deal on SH 121 to closing is the Federal Highway Administration, NTTA’s 121 toll road win hits snag with federal funding.

State transportation officials are still awaiting word from Washington on whether letting the North Texas Tollway Authority build the State Highway 121 toll road will result in forfeiture of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds.

With an Aug. 27 deadline looming to sign the Highway 121 contract, the Federal Highway Administration’s seeming displeasure casts another shadow over the already-contentious process to get the toll road built and running.

The FHA’s problem centers on the Highway 121 bidding process. The Spanish company Cintra won preliminary approval to build and operate the road. But the Legislature pressured the Texas Department of Transportation to reopen the bidding.

NTTA stepped in and took the contract away from Cintra by convincing the Regional Transportation Council that its bid was better for North Texas.

As a result, the federal government told Texas it could be asked to return federal funds spent on already-completed portions of the road.

Really? This shouldn’t surprise anyone. What interest do the Feds have in this? That’s right, this administration will side with the corporation every time.

Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, chairs the state Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee and has been a strong proponent of awarding the deal to NTTA. He said Tuesday that he remains optimistic the deal will be signed with NTTA but that he is concerned over the slow response by the federal government.

“The only hoop left to clear, the only unresolved issue in this deal is the federal funds question,” Mr. Carona said. “No transportation deal is a done deal until Washington signs off on it, and so I am concerned about this. But if Washington does insert itself here, and goes against the local recommendation to go with NTTA, then all hell’s going to break loose.”

He said he expects to discuss the matter today with U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters.


Mr. Carona said he remains optimistic that the deal will go to NTTA. But he said the U.S. transportation secretary’s support for private investment like that promised by Cintra is well-known.

“Mary Peters is probably the nation’s strongest advocate for public-private partnerships and private investment in transportation,” Mr. Carona said. “That said, I believe DOT will listen to what our local concerns are.”

You better not believe that Senator. They will do what they want when they want. This deal is still very shaky, obviously, and can still go either way. It would be a blow if Cintra winds up with this deal, there’s no doubt. But Sen. Carona, our state elected officials, and the local elected officials can’t have any trust or “belief” that the Feds will do what they want. Those who want NTTA to build this road better watch these pro-corporate tolling Feds like hawks because if this deal dies, then Cintra winds up building the toll road after all. And that’s just what the Feds, Perry and Williamson want. As Yogi said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

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