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Posts Tagged ‘toll roads’

SH 130 operator to give up its ownership stake

Another step on the road to bankruptcy. SH 130 Concession Co. filed a bankruptcy reorganization plan Friday that proposes transferring company ownership to its largest lenders, which include the Federal Highway Administration and a group of European banks. The company owes more than $1.6 billion. It is owned by Spanish road developer Cintra, the majority […]

SH 130 operator files for bankruptcy

Boom. A private company that operates part of the Texas toll road with the highest speed limit in the country filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, fewer than three years after the section of the road it oversees first opened. The SH 130 Concession Company, a partnership between Spain-based Cintra and San Antonio-based Zachry American Infrastructure, opened […]

Metro and HCTRA exploring other payment options

Look for them soon. Many transit riders are clamoring for smartphone payment for Metro buses and trains, which the agency originally announced would be ready by the end of 2015. Those plans have been delayed because of contract negotiations, but about 100 riders will be chosen for a test of a smartphone-based payment system in […]

Would the elevated 610 lanes really reduce congestion?

Color me skeptical. The elevated lane design, officials said, would allow traffic headed around the loop, and not into the Uptown area, to flow more freely. The lanes would have no access to exits for San Felipe, Westheimer, Richmond or U.S. 59. Moving that through-traffic to the express lanes would open up space for local […]

Elevating the West Loop

I suppose this was inevitable. Planners on Dec. 10 are scheduled to detail plans for elevated managed lanes along Loop 610, from north of Interstate 10 to U.S. 59. Long constrained by the development and parkland along the freeway, the Texas Department of Transportation project aims to put elevated lanes in the middle of the […]

Why that empty private toll road has been so empty

Someone did a study to try to answer that question. In the Austin area, more than 220,000 vehicles travel on I-35 on a daily basis. In contrast, SH 130, the tolled bypass around Austin only carries 40,000 vehicles daily. Why do more vehicles choose the I-35 route? What would make travelers, particularly big trucks, more […]

Now how much would you pay to drive on that toll road?

How about ten bucks each way at peak times, beginning on May 30? Toll rates on the I-10 lanes, also known as the Katy Managed Lanes, will increase as officials seek to ease congestion by reducing use of the lanes during peak hours through a process called congestion pricing. The rates will go up by […]

On driving the empty private toll road

Robert Rivard takes a ride on the lonely private toll road SH 130. Let me explain: SH 130, completed in October 2012, runs from an intersection just east of Seguin on I-10 to an intersection just north of Georgetown on I-35, allowing north-south traffic to avoid Austin’s congestion. My wife and I took it in […]

SH 130 operator in default

But it’s not default-default just yet. Although the company that built and operates the southern leg of the Texas 130 toll road recently managed to work out a payment extension with its lenders, an investor service that monitors the project still considers it in default. Moody’s Investor Service issued a report last week, saying SH […]

Company operating SH 130 may default

Oops. The company behind a privately operated Texas toll road that sports the country’s fastest speed limit is dangerously close to defaulting on its debt, according to a credit rating agency. According to a report released this week by Moody’s Investors Service, the SH 130 Concession Company, which operates the 41-mile southern portion of State […]

Maybe there’s a problem with building roads where there are no drivers

The high speed toll road keeps having problems relating to not having enough paying customers. SH 130 has not been the immediate success story its backers had hoped. Last week, lower-than-expected traffic revenue prompted credit ratings firm Moody’s Investors Service to severely downgrade the SH 130 Concession Company’s debt and warned that a default may […]

So what is the capacity of the Katy Freeway these days?

This story was about the increase in the toll on the managed lanes of the Katy Freeway, but there was a tidbit at the end that caught my eye. When officials started widening the freeway in 2003, at an eventual cost of $2.8 billion, their goal was to ease congestion in one of the area’s […]

City and county make a deal on airport toll road revenues

Good. After two years of negotiations, the Houston City Council approved an agreement Wednesday that provides toll revenue from the airport connector to the city for the first time – 24.5 percent, to be precise. Officials at Harris County, which has collected all revenue on the segment since it opened in January 2000, said it […]

Opposition gearing up for the water fund amendment

The legislation to create a state water infrastructure fund, and the joint resolution that authorized tapping the Rainy Day Fund for up to $2 billion to seed it, had a rocky road in the legislature and wasn’t completed until the last weekend of the regular session. Now the task is to pass the constitutional amendment […]

Building speculative privatized toll roads is risky business

Just ask the Texas 130 investors. Moody’s Investor Service has downgraded the credit rating of the private company that built and operates the Texas 130 toll road extension, a rating that could continue to drop unless traffic “aggressively” grows on the road in the next two years. Moody’s issued the rating April 12 after putting […]

290 toll lane opens

You solo drivers on US 290 can now take advantage of the HOV lane to make your daily commute a little less grim, beginning today. Based on time of day, drivers will pay between $1 and $5 for using the lanes, while eligible carpoolers can still use them for free. In the mornings, vehicles must […]

More on that underutilized high speed toll road

More toll road travails. Traffic counts on the new section of Texas 130, released Friday by the Texas Department of Transportation based on newspaper open records requests, show that the tollway southeast of Austin in its first couple of months was seeing fewer than 3,000 vehicles a day. About 5 percent of those were big […]

There’s no such thing as a free road

I have an issue with this. Texas’ boom of toll roads has made the “free” part of freeway mean something different lately. As toll lanes become the preferred choice for adding capacity to Texas roads, a growing number of state lawmakers and toll critics are looking for assurances that state-built freeways will stay open to […]

Maybe there are fewer people who want to drive 85 than we thought

Oops. The privately operated section of the Texas 130 tollway south of Mustang Ridge is attracting about half the predicted traffic, according to Moody’s Investor Service, prompting it to investigate downgrading credit ratings for more than $1.1 billion in debt attached to the toll road. […] TxDOT’s contract with the concession company lays out complex […]

The 288-to-the-Medical-Center connector takes a step forward

I still have a bad feeling about this. In a first step toward providing relief, transportation officials will spend the year winnowing six possible locations for reversible toll lanes that would provide a direct connection between the sprawling medical campus and Texas 288. They hope to start construction in 2014. Texas 288 between U.S. 59 […]

“Please don’t mow down the wildlife”

As we know, the new 85 MPH toll road is now open, and while it is largely free of traffic, there are other obstacles to watch out for. “That is a known pig route,” said Caldwell County Precinct 1 Constable Victor “Smitty” Terrell, who heard one of the hog-vs.-vehicle crashes on his police radio Wednesday […]

The 85 MPH toll road is now open

So far, it seems like the only people on the newly-opened 85 MPH Texas 130 toll road are reporters writing about what it’s like to legally drive that fast. About an hour after road workers removed the hundreds of bright orange cones blocking the entrances and exits to the new State Highway 130 toll road, […]

It was nice knowing you, Lockhart

There’s so much that’s wrong with this. Community leaders believe the four lanes of Texas 130 will spur growth — despite what is expected to be a charge of about 15 cents a mile to drive on it. The tollway, which will link Lockhart to Austin to the north and will provide a much faster […]

85 MPH speed limit officially approved

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. The Texas Department of Transportation has approved an 85 mph speed limit for an upcoming 40-mile stretch of Texas 130 from Austin to Seguin. Currently, no road in the country has a posted speed limit faster than 80 mph. An 85 mph designation would give the new toll road […]

Toll hike

I have three things to say about this. Starting in September, that jaunt on a Harris County toll road might save you time, but it won’t spare your change. Unless Commissioners Court intervenes, rates at main-lane toll plazas on the Sam Houston, Westpark Tollway, Hardy Toll Road and the one toll booth on the Fort […]

More on the 288 to Medical Center connector

The more I hear about this idea, the worse it sounds. A proposal to build a highway connector between Texas 288 and the Texas Medical Center via North MacGregor Way has drawn criticism. Among those opposed to the flyover is the Hermann Park Conservancy, which says the elevated connector would leave Hermann Park’s new trail […]

Tomorrow’s traffic jams are being planned today

I have two things to say about this. Projects to widen U.S. 290 and Texas 288 with a mix of free and toll lanes in an attempt to ease congestion in the traffic-choked corridors would get a jump-start under a proposed agreement between Harris County and the Texas Department of Transportation. The deal, scheduled for […]

First Metro HOV toll lane opens tomorrow

Enjoy your new option, Gulf Freeway commuters. Metro is set to debut its first high-occupancy toll lanes on the Gulf Freeway between Dixie Farm Road and Dowling Street on Monday. This arrangement allows solo drivers to use high-occupancy vehicle, or HOV, lanes for a price at certain times of the day. Tolls vary between $1 […]

Tomball toll road

They want a toll road in Tomball, and they’re probably going to get it. The Harris County Toll Road Authority is asking that it be allowed to look at State Highway 249, also known as Tomball Parkway, to see whether it would be make sense to build a toll road from Spring-Cypress Road about 10 […]

Here come the HOT lanes

Those of you who commute from the ‘burbs into the central core will have new options for how to get there, if you don’t mind spending a few bucks. Solo drivers willing to pay extra to breeze through heavy traffic could get their chance soon, with Metro expected to start opening its high-occupancy toll lanes […]

Election results elsewhere

Results of interest from elsewhere in Texas and the country… – Three of the ten Constitutional amendments were defeated, with Prop 4 losing by nearly 20 points. It drew strong opposition from anti-toll road activists, and I daresay that was the reason for the lopsided loss. The other two, Props 7 and 8, were pretty […]

Get them while they’re HOT

Metro is set to open its HOV lanes to single occupancy vehicles, but you’ll pay for the privilege if you choose it. The Metropolitan Transit Authority board Thursday set a range of tolls from $1 to $10, depending on the time of day, for its new high-occupancy toll lanes. The first such lanes are scheduled […]

HuffPo on the Grand Parkway

The Huffington Post take a look at that great boondoggle in northwest Harris County, the Grand Parkway Segment E extension from I-10 to 290. Texas faces a transportation funding gap of $315 billion over the next 20 years, according to the state’s transportation commission. Ten of its top 20 congested roads are in or around […]

Let’s share that toll road revenue

Have you ever taken the toll road connector from the Hardy Toll Road to IAH? I have, many times. Being able to bypass the traffic on Beltway 8 and JFK Boulevard makes it worthwhile for me to take the Hardy instead of I-45. Turns out that the city of Houston paid for part of the […]