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December 12, 2012

Council votes to support toll road

GREENVILLE — Representatives from a private company approached the Greenville City Council Tuesday, asking for the Council’s support to build a toll road between Greenville and the Dallas area.

The proposal from the Texas Turnpike Corporation also includes a plan to build a new road from west to east across North Greenville and connecting with Interstate 30.

“We are proposing the road crossing Greenville would be public and would not be tolled,” said John Crew with the Texas Turnpike Corporation/Public Werks Inc.

The Council voted unanimously to support the concept of the project.

Mayor Steve Reid explained said the resolution passed Tuesday night does not obligate the city in any way, but will be used to help get the proposed toll road included under the regional transportation plan from the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG).

“All they are trying to do is to get to the next step and they need these resolutions to do that,” Reid said.

Phase 1 of the project would be a privately owned and built toll road which would cover approximately 24 miles between just west of Greenville and Lavon in Collin County, along a portion of the Northeast Texas Rural Rail Transportation District (NETEX) right-of-way.

The right-of-way will be secured through a long term ground lease agreement between the Texas Turnpike Corporation (TTC) and NETEX from just west of Greenville through the cities of Josephine and Nevada, to just west of State Highway 278 in Lavon.

The TTC is proposing to build a limited access four lane divided toll road in and along the right-of-way, leaving room for NETEX’s rail restoration plan in the future, in order to help relieve congestion along Interstate 30 between Rockwall County and Dallas County.

Phase 2 of the project, between State Highway 78 and the President George Bush Turnpike will be planned and constructed in the future.

Crew said the developers are wanting to show the NCTCOG that the project is needed, can be financed and will be accepted by the public who will be affected.

Approximately $2 billion in improvements have been identified as being needed along Interstate 30, whereas building a 100-foot wide toll road could be built for far less, Crew said.

“We believe on the private side you can find some people who will ride along with you and make this project happen,” Crew said.

In terms of acceptance, officials with the City of Lavon have indicated they want to take a month to study the proposal, while Crew explained the Josephine City Council voted Monday night to support the project.

A final path for the road has not been chosen.

“There are going to be public meetings to decide where this is going to go,” he added.

The toll road itself would end at the western city limits of Greenville.

“From there, how do we get across town,” Crew asked. “What do you guys want to see?”

A map presented during Tuesday’s meeting shows the route would likely be somewhere north of Oneal Street and south of the Kansas City Southern railroad tracks.

K. Neal Barker with Public Werks said there is no chance the road would be built through the center of downtown.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a high speed connector along Lee Street and past the courthouse,” Barker said.

Crew said the concept of a private company building and owning a toll road is pretty rare in the state.

“It is not the first private toll road in Texas, but it might be the second,” Crew said. “This road would be the first in a very long time.”

He noted there are multiple highway projects already on the drawing board across the state, although the Texas Department of Transportation does not have the funding to pay for them.

“They just don’t have any more money and this is one way to get it done,” Crew said.

Barker said the Council’s vote Tuesday will help get the proposed toll road on the list of potential projects.

“All we are asking from you is to get it on the transportation plan,” Barker said.

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