KETR

Toll road foes rally, address Hunt County commissioners

Oct 14, 2014

Audio Transcript:

Haslett: Between 30 and 40 opponents of the proposed road gathered along with area media in front of a Hunt County government building this morning for two purposes. The first was an outdoor press conference. Royse City resident Bryan Slaton distributed literature and read excerpts from the documents. Slaton articulated a number of concerns that have been part of the discussion about the road since it was first proposed almost two years ago. He said that the road – which would connect Greenville with President George Bush Turnpike in far northeastern Dallas County - was not needed. 

Slaton: In an independent study Texas A&M did a study of congested roads in Texas, and it showed a section of I-30 in Rockwall. Out of 431 sections of road, Rockwall I-30 ranks #206. NCTCOG’s population projections for 2035 are highly inflated. Their population projections are roughly 30,000 higher than TxDOT’s.

Haslett: Slaton also claimed that the road would be plagued by financial difficulties. The viability of toll roads has been put into question by troubled projects in Central and South Texas. The company that wants to build this toll road is Dallas-based Texas Turnpike Corp.

Slaton: According to TTC’s consultant report from Baez Consulting, using traffic numbers even higher than NCTCOG’s, the revenue the first year would be 8.2 million. The first time TTC would have enough revenue to cover its payment is the year 2022, five years after the assumed 2017 start date. This does not take into account operational maintenance administrative expenses. More telling the cumulative revenues shown in the report will not cover the bill costs until the year 2034, seventeen years after the road opens. In summary, this road will go bankrupt, even using the report from TTC’s consulting firm.

Haslett: Another objection cited was the expectation that Hunt County would end up having to foot the bill for part of the project. Slaton said that Hunt County would have to pay about 1.5 million dollars in right-of-way acquisition expenses in order to for the road to connect with existing facilities. Following Slaton’s presentation, those in attendance fulfilled the second part of their mission this morning – that was attending the regularly scheduled meeting of the Hunt County Commissioners Court. Hunt County Judge John Horn has been quoted as supporting the toll road project. There were a couple bureaucratic hurdles before attendees were able to address the commissioners. The public comment period is at the beginning of county commissioners meetings, but this morning’s meeting started early. Even though the anti-toll contingent began filing into the chamber shortly before the scheduled 10 o’clock start time, commissioners had already moved into agenda items. However the bailiff did receive a number of speaker’s cards from those wishing to comment. Shortly after the bailiff had given Judge Horn a number of speaker’s cards for those wishing to comment, Horn called a brief recess and spoke with Slaton. He asked Slaton if he would speak on behalf of the entire group, but both Slaton and others present objected to that idea. Eventually, Judge Horn did allow anyone who wished to speak to do so. Among those who addressed the commissioners was Tiffany Long.

Long: …Because we will vote every single one of you out of office. We’re already looking for candidates to run against you in the next election, so I’m putting you on notice today. Please look into this. Please someone answer my question and tell me where the 16 million is going to come from, and please tell me what you’re going to do to change your mind to make this right.

Haslett: Opponents of the proposed road plan to continue today’s activities with a presence at four city councils meetings this evening: Caddo Mills, Greenville, Royse City and Rowlett.