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The Collin County Commissioners, acting for the first time as the Collin County Toll Road Authority (CCTRA), met on Tuesday. The Directors of the Authority are the County Judge and County Commissioners. They listened to a presentation on the status and costs to complete the controversial Outer Loop project.
Last year, the Collin County Commissioners Court, disappointed in the way TxDOT handled the financing of SH 121 and seeing no way to insure state or federal funding for large road projects such as the Outer Loop, formed the Collin County Toll Road Authority.
Recent state and federal legislation had made it possible for a regional or county toll authority, such as the CCTRA to pursue alternative financing schemes in order to build new roads, and to have the authority to preempt TxDOT in controlling the future of specific road building projects, while keeping financial revenue local.
The alternative financing schemes are generally private or public contractors leasing the rights to build and operate the new highways as toll roads. Frequently, the contractor must pay a large "upfront" payment in exchange for the right to build and operate the tollway. The county, not the State of Texas would collect and keep the upfront fees and excess toll revenue.
There are few other "County Toll Authorities" in Texas. Besides the new Collin County Toll Authority, Harris and Montgomery counties have formed their own toll road operations.
Collin County has been struggling to find a way to finance its portion of the Outer Loop. State and federal funds are increasingly scarce. As a result, toll roads have become the default mechanism of choice for funding new road construction.
The commissioners court wanted to both finance the new highway and generate revenue for future mobility projects.
The Outer Loop was conceived by local planners as a regional beltway around the DFW metroplex. The Collin County portion is the "upside down L" shaped turn from the road's northern segment to the eastward run. The eastern part of the Loop is in far east Collin County running north from the Rockwall County line (south of Nevada) past US 380 and turning east north of Blue Ridge, then intersecting with the Dallas North Tollway at the Denton County line between Prosper and Celina.
Other regional segments of the Outer Loop run west of Fort Worth and south of Dallas.
Besides the Outer Loop the CCTRA hopes to develop the future Phase 4B of the Dallas North Tollway from FM 428 to the Grayson County line.
Much to the displeasure of the Commissioners Court, NTTA had proposed moving most of the Phase 4B tollway extension into Denton County.
Because of the anticipated development generated by the highway, the Court wanted to keep the road in Collin County. By using their newly created Tollway Authority, the commissioners hope to gain the priority claim to the rights to construct and operate this northernmost extension of the Dallas North Tollway.
Actual construction of these roads is several years out. Right now, the CCTRA is in the process of determining the exact path the road will travel, getting the engineering done, and acquiring the land for the right of way.
No decisions have been made as to who would operate the toll roads or how much the tolls would cost consumers.
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