Saturday, April 30, 2011

TxDOT Sunset Bill nearing approval in both houses

Commission appointment changes added to House, Senate bills - private backing for toll roads approved for bypasses

Apr 29 Written by:

Andy Hogue
4/29/2011 5:16 PM

With today's approval in the House, both chambers have now passed TxDOT Sunset bills.

HB 2675, the House version of the sunset legislation, has at least one thing in common with the Senate's -- it rejected the call to have a single transportation commissioner running the department.

However, the House bill now changes the way the five commissioners are selected. An amendment by Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso) calls for the Governor to appoint four from a list of nominees put forth by the House Speaker, with a fifth appointed by the Lieutenant Governor.

The main bone of contention this afternoon was debate over continuing CDAs -- comprehensive development agreements, which are those public-private partnerships that allow for private companies to front the money for toll roads and similar projects.

An amendment by Rep. Linda Harper Brown (R-Irving) paved the way for allowing TxDOT to build three CDA projects per year -- complete with design-build authority. (We'll take a closer look at what all this means, and who voted in which way, in next week's LSR).

But three per year is not all that TxDOT will be allowed according to another amendment by Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman). In what he called "several local bills rolled into one," 12 CDA projects designed to relieve urban congestion were approved -- from I-35 East managed toll lanes in Dallas and Denton counties to Loop 1 (Mo-Pac Expressway) lanes in Austin. (See full list below...

(click here for full article from "The Lone Star Report")

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