Mckinney Courier-gazette > Opinion
Guest column: NTTA is the best choice for 121 construction
By Phyllis Cole
State Highway 121 is a vital east-west route for Collin County citizens as well as all of the North Texas Region. The highway will eventually connect Central Expressway with D/FW Airport.
In 1984 the SH121 Task Force was created with representatives from area governments, adjacent land owners, utility companies, and the Texas Department of Transportation. Commissioner Jack Hatchell and I were appointed to represent Collin County.
After much planning and hard work, six lanes of access roads and two overpasses have been completed. SH 121 is now moving traffic at a much faster rate. Collin County citizens have contributed in excess of $50 million to this project.
In 2004, the Task Force was told by TxDOT that SH 121 would become a toll road. The road would be built by Cintra, a company from Spain, that promised a large upfront down payment to the State of Texas as well as yearly payments from tolls for a period of 50 years. Furthermore, North Texas Tollway Authority, which built Dallas North Tollway and the Bush Turnpike, were told they could not submit a bid to build the road. However, they might be allowed to make a bid to operate the toll facility. This option is totally unacceptable to us.
The North Texas Tollway Authority is best qualified to build and operate the 121 Toll Road for the following reasons:
*NTTA is our toll road authority
*NTTA offers the most money both up front and in the long run -- one billion plus dollars for other projects in the region.
*NTTA is controlled by a local board of directors appointed by Collin, Denton, Dallas and Tarrant county commissioners.
*The dollars stay local and do not go to a foreign country. SH 121 as a toll road is projected to be so profitable, it will allow NTTA to finance and construct other big projects in the region.
*Cintra is a foreign company with all profits going out of our country.
*The Cintra representative said at the RTC meeting, when asked about the excess revenue (approximately $1.8 billion identified by NTTA), that there is a thing called dividends to stock holders. In other words, Cintra would keep the excess profits and not contribute them to build roads in the region as would NTTA.
*Our toll rates will be controlled by a locally accountable board of directors.
Why go out of the country when the local authority NTTA offers the best deal? Buy American.
Why should TXDOT decide who does our project? It should be a local decision.
NTTA offers by far the best financial deal for the region in both the short and the long term.
We hope the Texas Transportation Commission will do the right thing and allow us to continue to develop our area in a manner that provides the best benefits for our citizens.
Phyllis Cole is Collin County commissioner for Precinct 1.