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Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Lake Lavon and transportation funding

1. Lake Lavon, which fought a valiant battle for more than a year to remain about 12 feet low, is now almost 13 feet low and headed down. The high for the past year was, amazingly, in August. Pray for rain. We need the rain in the forecast this week.

2. If you want a faster pace of commentary, follow me on Facebook or Twitter. www.Facebook.com/KeithSelf or #JudgeKeithSelf

3. This is an on-going conversation as we consider the options available to us to fund very expensive highways in the face of a continuing dearth of federal and state transportation funding.
In Commissioners Court on Monday, we will hear a briefing that should start our “strategic vision” for future highways. Join us at 1:30 PM at http://collin.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2

If the long-awaited study on the “ultimate US 75 rebuild” does indeed show total capacity of 12 main lanes, instead of the current 10 lanes, plus frontage roads that don’t change, the new $3.5 Billion figure mentioned by our Regional Transportation Council (RTC) representative will only add 2 lanes in total capacity! (The figure has skyrocketed from $1 B to $2 B to $3.5 B since we started discussing it. Is that a strategy?)

A projected $3.5 Billion Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA) could:

1) Rebuild current lanes.

2) Add 2 lanes to total capacity.

3) Add tolls to 4 lanes (the 2 current HOV lanes and the 2 new lanes).

4) Give a permanent revenue stream to the RTC, which makes transportation decisions for 6.8 million people; more people than in most of the states in our nation.

So, as our population explodes, the $3.5 Billion may add only 2 lanes to US 75. True, we do get the current highway rebuilt, but we need so much more, either on US 75 or on a new highway. So we are basically rebuilding what we have and paying for the rebuild with tolls. What about the other 1-million-plus citizens we will add to our future population?

Perhaps the most important aspect of a $3.5 Billion CDA? The permanent tolls that you will pay forever on US 75. The conversation with you, the taxpayer, is whether or not that is the way that you want to pay for very expensive highways here in Collin County in the future. You may, at the end of the day, decide this is the funding mechanism that you support (assuming that federal and state funds remain elusive.)

Just for comparison sake, CDA projected toll revenues on the new LBJ/635 project in Dallas County could raise $3.5 Billion in as little as 12 years. Total projected toll revenue on the LBJ/635 project? Up to $84 Billion (or more) over 50 years. You can study the executed LBJ/635 CDA at http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/projects/studies/dallas/635-lbj-cda/cda.html

Remember that a CDA toll road is NOT like the current NTTA toll roads in Collin County. You pay 17 cents per mile on the current toll roads, you will pay up to 75 cents per mile on a CDA toll road during peak periods, when most of you drive on a toll road. But perhaps the 75 cent toll would go higher, which a CDA allows if the toll lanes don’t meet traffic projections.

Take a look at the concentration in just a few areas on a statewide toll road map at http://www.texastribune.org/library/data/tolling-texans-tollroad-map/

4. Join Van Taylor, Jeff Leach, Scott Sanford, and me at the McKinney Tea Party panel on immigration, Tuesday evening, 7 PM, Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church.

posted by Keith Self on December 14th, 2014 at 5:03 pm



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Rick Perry's 2009 State of the State Address, speaking about how Judge Self and his counterparts helped put Collin County's check register online.