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Posts Tagged ‘toll roads’

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 […]

Who wants to help build the Grand Parkway?

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 […]

Grand Parkway gets state funding

No money for schools, but there is money for this. The Texas Transportation Commission [Thursday] morning unanimously approved allocation of $350 million for construction of the Grand Parkway’s Segment E in west Harris County. […] The $350 million approved [Thursday] morning comes from uncommitted dollars in the Texas Mobility Fund, said Kelli Petras, a spokeswoman […]

By the way, we have no money for roads

Just another issue we won’t be dealing with this session. During the next 20 years, the Texas Department of Transportation will need $315 billion to spend on the state’s roads and freeways for maintenance and construction just to keep traffic from getting worse, according to a report commissioned by the Texas Transportation Commission. The gasoline […]

Harris County hands the Grand Parkway back to the state

Commissioners Court wants TxDOT to take over construction of the Grand Parkway. Harris County took control of the project about 15 months ago in the belief that the Texas Department of Transportation did not have the money to build it, and that the county could come to an agreement with the state over how toll […]

More on paying for roads and other forms of transportation

Given that the private toll road debate is set to gear up again in Texas, it is fortuitous that the Texas Public Interest Research Group, a/k/a TexPIRG, chose last week to release a report called Do Roads pay For Themselves? You can read the whole report, or you can skip to their press release for […]

Will we re-fight the toll road privatization battle?

Maybe. I’m a little dubious, however. Over a long July Fourth weekend two years ago, with time running out on a chaotic special session, the Legislature refused to extend authority for the Texas Department of Transportation to contract with private toll firms beyond Aug. 31, 2009. Since then, the privatization of toll roads, long a […]

The Grand Parkway takes another inevitable step forward

No money to fix traffic lights, but there’s always money for the Grand Parkway. Commissioners Court on Tuesday authorized the Harris County Toll Road Authority to negotiate with the Texas Department of Transportation over the development of three Grand Parkway segments inside Harris County with a total length of more than 40 miles. Segment E, […]

Harris County CIP will ignore Hempstead managed lanes

Earlier this month, I blogged about the status of the US 290 expansion, for which TxDOT’s plan rested on the assumption that the Harris County Toll Road Authority would go forth with the construction of managed lanes along Hempstead Highway. Well, Commissioners Court will be voting on their capital improvement plan (CIP) tomorrow, and the […]