Commissioner Steve Radack sent a letter Wednesday to Art Storey, Harris County public infrastructure director, asking him to meet with the Texas Department of Transportation to address "continued participation in the project using toll-road funds."
Harris County signed an agreement with the state March 14 to contribute $250 million in Toll Road Authority revenue bonds toward construction of a four-lane tollway down the middle of the Katy Freeway between Texas 6 and Loop 610.
"Obviously if you're a government putting $250 million into a project and you see that the project is already more than $200 million over budget -- almost what the county has put in -- it's prudent to ask some questions," Radack said Wednesday in a phone interview from Hilton Head, S.C.
Radack said the freeway project is "in jeopardy" because the Toll Road Authority can't repay its debt until the toll lanes are open and generating revenue. That is supposed to happen in late 2008 but could be pushed back if right-of-way acquisitions don't speed up or funds dry out.
"I want to see that freeway done," he said. "But I'm not going to sit there and see the taxpayers gouged."
County Judge Robert Eckels said he planned to huddle with Storey on Wednesday evening.
"There may come a time when it's appropriate to withdraw from this project if it is not going to be financially viable for the Toll Road Authority, but I don't believe we're at that point yet," Eckels said. "We need to get together with TxDOT and get to the bottom of the problem."
This does not fill me with a warm feeling:
Eckels and Radack both called on Gov. Rick Perry to add two bills to the special legislative session agenda that would make it easier to condemn parcels needed for the freeway widening.
UPDATE: Charles M points out this Chron article in the comments which describes the bill that Eckels and Radack are shilling for.Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 31, 2003 to Elsewhere in Houston | TrackBack