The Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization, the body created by the Legislature to guide transportation planning in the San Antonio area, is moving forward with a plan to construct the long-awaited expansion of Loop 1604 on San Antonio's north side without resorting to toll lanes, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
MPO Chair Kevin Wolff told News Radio 1200 WOAI and KLRN-TV's 'On the Record' that he is pushing for a vote of the MPO to change direction on the long awaited project.
"We will essentially be passing a resolution asking TxDOT and the Texas Transportation Commission to, instead of doing 1604 as a toll, give us the $500 million needed to complete that project, which is our most congested portion in the entire county, from Bandera Rd. to I-35," Wolff said.
The entire cost of constructing two new lanes in each direction from Bandera Road to Interstate 35, a 24 mile project, is $800 million, but $300 million had already been secured from other sources.
Wolff didn't say where the extra $500 million might come from, but since the original concept for the expansion was proposed, voters statewide have approved two propositions to free up money from various sources, including the gasoline tax and sales tax revenue from vehicle transactions, specifically to pay for non tolled highway improvements.
Wolff pointed out that the mood among state officials from Gov. Abbott on down is decidedly anti toll today, as opposed to the mood when the 1604 project was first conceived and pro toll Gov. Rick Perry was in office.
Abbott and Legislative leaders have both expressed a desire to complete major transportation projects without tolls."
You are probably looking at over the next three to four months for this to get in front of the Texas Transportation Commission and hear what their decision is," Wolff said.
But Wolff pointed out that all Commission members are appointed by Abbott, and are well aware of their feelings about toll roads.
He also said the political mood in Bexar County has long been anti-toll, due largely to the lobbying efforts of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom founder Terri Hall.
Wolff didn't say whether this new method of funding would delay the start of the construction on the badly needed new lanes.
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