RTC Should Protect Metroplex Drivers in Highway 121 Negotiations

NTTA should be held to the same standards as Cintra/JPMorgan

Letter to the Editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Given the short time frame to forge a deal with the North Texas Tollway Authority on the Highway 121 project (“Little time to celebrate,” June 3), it’s crucial that the Regional Transportation Council protect the interests of Metroplex drivers.

For example, NTTA has pledged to maintain the road to its usual specifications, which don’t live up to the higher performance standards guaranteed under Cintra’s agreement. Cintra would face stiff penalties if it failed to meet any of its dozens of contractual commitments, covering everything from incident response and safety repairs to the maximum time allowed to repair potholes and remove litter and roadkill. Plus Cintra would incur severe cash penalties if it failed to build each segment of the road on the schedule it committed to. NTTA should be held to the same standards.

In addition, RTC’s toll rate policy required that Highway 121 tolls be firmly capped under Cintra’s contract. Yet, as a public toll agency, NTTA has to assure lenders of its unlimited authority to raise tolls to any level necessary to cover its debts in the event of a revenue shortfall on the road. RTC should not move the goalposts and change its toll rate policy to accommodate NTTA’s financial constraints.

It’s not exactly a great deal for Metroplex drivers if you trade local control of the 121 project for a lower quality road, lower performance standards, and uncapped tolls.