With $2.5 Billion in Backed-up Highway Projects, North Texans Turn Up the Heat on Austin

The anger and frustration of motorists stuck on LBJ Freeway may soon spread to users of a trio of other crowded North Texas roadways.Funds to improve three highway logjams are being used as collateral to persuade the Texas Transportation Commission to build LBJ East, the 10.8 miles of Interstate 635 between Interstate 30 and Central Expressway that has been deemed the region's top transportation project. The three potentially endangered projects -- the Interstate 30 bridge over Lake Ray Hubbard. Interstate 35E between LBJ and the Denton County line and U.S. Highway 80 east toward Kaufman County -- together represent $2.5 billion in planned projects that may be pulled to get LBJ East completed. And doing that would turn a North Dallas highway problem into major roadway obstacles or Denton, Kaufman and Rockwall counties.Denton County Judge Mary Horn told Gov. Greg Abbott "it's time to govern" in a Feb. 8 letter complaining about delayed projects in the area, and that tolled, managed lanes previously in the plan were the best way to pay for LBJ East. "If we don't get creative with such things as managed lanes, we're going to be delaying projects all over the region." Horn said in a subsequent interview. "If all the money is spent on LBJ, which I certainly want expanded, then everybody else is going to suffer."'A strategy that cannibalizes'Last week, Rockwall County commissioners passed a unanimous resolution calling for state leaders to reconsider managed lanes for LBJ East. County leaders say that Interstate 30 bridge improvements over Lake Ray Hubbard -- and their booming economy -- are now at stake. "The overall success of the Interstate 30 project is the most important transportation product in the history of Rockwall County," said David Sweet, the county judge.In the middle of the I-30 bridge is the peninsula where ground has broken on Bayside, the first billion-dollar development in Rowlett's history. "A strategy that cannibalizes other major transportation projects as collateral to fund the I-635 East project jeopardizes the growth and development of our entire region," Rowlett Mayor Tammy Dana-Bashian said. "We must fix I-30."  Continue reading...

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