Counties Take Action to Keep Earmarked Road Monies; Other Funds Available for LBJ East Projects
Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood and Rockwall County Judge David Sweet have taken a special interest in today’s North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) Regional Transportation Council’s meeting, scheduled for 1:00 p.m. in Arlington, Texas. Wood’s primary concern is that Kaufman County be able to keep its share of $260 million dollars designated for U.S. Highway 80 projects, some of which are in Kaufman County, and desperately needed for infrastructure to support current and projected growth. Sweet is concerned about the congestion along Interstate 30, and earmarked road projects that would ease the same.
At issue is the funding of free lanes, managed/toll lanes, and service road construction projects for IH635/LBJ East from 75 around to Interstate 30. District 2 State Senator Bob Hall has said that other monies are available to fund these projects, and nothing need be taken from surrounding counties’ road funds.
“That money was intended for our County,” Wood explained, “and we don’t want our money to be used on 635. It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul, and there ought to be a better way to fund it.” The money Wood is referring to is specifically earmarked for work to be done on U.S. Hwy. 80 for engineering, environmental studies, construction, replacement of bridges in Forney and Sunnyvale, and some additional service roads.
“We’re growing so fast every year, we don’t need that project stopped,” said Wood, who intends to attend the NCTCOG Regional Transportation Council meeting. He then pointed out that a new 1,000 home edition in Forney was just announced, and more than 150 new homes are being built in Kaufman County at the moment.
Judge Sweet in Rockwall said, “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the I-30 project. We’re one of the fastest growing counties in the State of Texas.” He added that both projects, LBJ East and the I-30 expansion will have a “tremendous impact on Rockwall County citizens.” He is working to rearrange his schedule, so that he can attend the Regional Transportation Council’s meeting with Precinct 4 Commissioner David Magness.
Senator Hall agreed that those funds need to stay with counties, and he hopes to discuss it with Governor Greg Abbott when he sees him this afternoon. “There is no reason,” said Hall, “to take money from any other project out there.”
Hall said that the LBJ East project could begin now with currents funds available, and the only reason the project has been delayed so long, is because the project was stalled to build sound barriers or sound walls, but that funding is already there to begin construction of the free lanes and service roads. At issue, Hall explained is $300 million necessary for managed/toll lanes. Hall believes that funding for those lanes could easily be taken from the cancelled Trinity River bridge project. Hall emphasized that there is “no need to wait on more money to come in before the project can begin.”
Rep. Cindy Burkett had been instrumental in the construction of sound walls, which delayed the LBJ East road project.
While Hall expressed confidence in the job NCTCOG Director of Transportation, Michael Morris is doing, he made clear, “I will continue fighting for money and moving start dates for all major projects in the District.”