$55 Million granted to Toll 49
POSTED: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 - 12:01pm
UPDATED: Thursday, July 3, 2014 - 8:54pm
The North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority (NET RMA) announced Friday that $55 million of debt for the Toll 49 project has been preliminarily approved to be forgiven by the Texas Transportation Commission due to the project vastly exceeding expectations for use. The TTC plans to convert $55 million of the original toll equity loan for Toll 49 into grant funds that will not have to be repaid by NET RMA. Smith County Judge Joel Baker expressed his gratitude to the TTC for this generous gesture that will help expedite completion of the Toll 49 project. Traffic counts on existing portions of Toll 49 have doubled original projections, averaging near 30,000 transactions per month, he said.
“This gesture shows how important Toll 49 is to our region and state,” Baker said. “Toll 49 is an important part of our community, opening up properties for economic development and providing additional connectivity to I-20.”
The actions of the TTC provide an opportunity for the NET RMA to start the development of the Lindale Relief Route, Segment 4 of Toll 49, sooner than anticipated. Smith County is currently working with NET RMA to find additional funding solutions for the future development of this important regional project.
“We need to look at every option possible as we plan for the next, five, ten and twenty years of transportation development,” Smith County Pct. 1 Commissioner Jeff Warr said.
Smith County has recently considered creating a Transportation Reinvestment Zone as one option to assist the NET RMA in expediting further construction of Toll 49 and to fund needed transportation improvements to county roads.
In addition to the $55 million grant, the TTC approved a second request on Friday from the NET RMA for a $3,545,000 grant to help pay for the costs of upgrading older tolling equipment on previously completed portions of Toll 49.