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Watson on death of HB 2861: This is fine

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 by Caleb Pritchard

The Texas Legislature last week shot down a bill that would have made it easier to build toll lane projects on a number of statewide roads, including I-35 through the heart of the Austin metro area. House Bill 2861 would have allowed the Texas Department of Transportation to enter into comprehensive development agreements with private companies to develop toll lanes on, among other roads, I-35 between RM 1431 and State Highway 45 Southeast. Its failure to pass limits the financing options TxDOT has at its disposal as planners, officials and the public discuss rebuilding the roadway with brand new toll and transit lanes. Nonetheless, the agency can still move forward with publicly funded plans, and state Sen. Kirk Watson indicated to the Austin Monitor that the death of HB 2861 caused him no loss of sleep. “In piecing together the financing plans for I-35, we’ve been operating under the assumption that a (comprehensive development agreement) wasn’t an option,” he said in an email. “The project and the process continues to move forward.”

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