Gov. Perry Announces Funding Approved for Katy Freeway Toll Road Project
Perry Details Plan to Reduce Urban Congestion
HOUSTON – Gov. Rick Perry today joined federal, state and local officials in announcing a $1 billion expansion of the Katy Freeway in Houston that will ease congestion for Harris County commuters.
Perry joined U.S. Congressman John Culberson in announcing that the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Harris County Toll Road Authority have signed an agreement to expand the Katy Freeway by using a combination of toll lanes and non-tolled lanes.
“Because of the leadership of Congressman Culberson, the vision of state transportation officials, and new, more flexible federal financing rules, the citizens on the West Side of Harris County will get relief from congestion sooner than later,” Perry said.
“It comes down to providing more options for commuters, and more solutions to combat the gridlock grind,” he added.
This will be one of the largest highway construction projects in Texas history and the first highway construction project in Texas that adds toll lanes to an interstate highway. The FHA approved the Katy Freeway plan last week.
In August 2001, Gov. Perry announced the state was working with Harris County to find innovative funding methods to accelerate the expansion of the Katy Freeway. Local funding provided by the HCTRA and the agreement signed today ensures reconstruction of the highway will be completed in five to six years as opposed to 10 to 12 years. Acceleration of the project will generate an estimated $65 million in savings to taxpayers for construction costs and result in reduced commute times for Houston drivers.
The HCTRA has provided $250 million to be repaid by toll revenue and $250 million as a short-term interest free loan. Tolling for the freeway will be based on “value pricing,” which eases congestion by providing tolling alternatives that vary by time of day and levels of congestion.
The Katy Freeway toll road proposal, developed by Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, includes four toll lanes, eight free general purpose lanes and six frontage lanes. Eckels and Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Johnny Johnson also attended the news conference.
Perry also said he has asked TxDOT officials to develop a plan for alleviating urban highway congestion, using the Katy Freeway as a model. He called on transportation officials to consider additional innovative financing mechanisms to accelerate road expansions in Texas’ urban areas.
“As governor, I am committed to innovative transportation solutions. That’s why I have asked the Texas Department of Transportation to develop an urban congestion relief plan,” Gov. Perry said. “Working with the private sector, and local transportation authorities, I know we can address our transportation challenges in our urban areas in a new way.”
Last year, the governor announced the Trans Texas Corridor, a statewide transportation plan, to address congestion, pollution and safety in Texas cities. The governor’s plan includes innovative funding methods that allow the state to construct the system with a minimal expenditure of public money. The Corridor redirects large trucks and hazardous materials out of cities, while bringing broadband, water and utilities to rural Texans.
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