The State of Texas wants to know.
The Texas Department of Transportation, which has responsibility for the parkway in Harris, Montgomery and Chambers Counties, is moving toward use of a public-private partnership to get faster funding for the multibillion-dollar, 184-mile project.
This spring, the Legislature renewed the public-private option for building the Grand Parkway when it passed a bill that extended TxDOT through 2015. An amendment to the bill authorized public-private partnerships to develop the Grand Parkway, U.S. 249, U.S. 290 and Texas 288 in the Houston area as well as three Dallas-area projects.
TxDOT issued a Request for Information June 10 regarding development of the Grand Parkway and Interstate 35-E in Dallas. Grand Parkway responses are due Wednesday.
Agency spokeswoman Kelli Petras said TxDOT is open to any idea but is leaning toward a public-private deal, also known as a P3 agreement, because of the state’s budget woes.
“An RFI is searching for any method that we could (use to) build the road,” Petras said. “Obviously, with funding limited, it is assumed that a P3 model will be the one selected.”
Gornet said TxDOT’s request for information was not intended to emphasize a particular method of building the parkway.
“If a P3 ends up being the best value for the citizens, so be it,” said Gornet, director of the nonprofit association established by TxDOT in 1984 to facilitate Grand Parkway development.
I don’t have any problems with the concept of a public-private partnership; McBlogger would disagree with that, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad idea. What is a bad idea is spending billions of dollars to build a road in the middle of nowhere when there are far more pressing needs elsewhere. If we’re going to engage in urban planning on such a massive scale, we ought to do so in a way that gets a much bigger immediate return on the investment.
By the way, I wonder what happens if TxDOT doesn’t get any worthwhile responses. I presume they’ll just extend today’s deadline and encourage those that had responded to step it up. Still, something to think about just in case.