Gov. Perry: Turnpike Will Open Nearly Year Early, $400 Million Under Budget
Gov. Rick Perry today announced that 40 miles of the Central Texas Turnpike will open nearly a year ahead of schedule and more than $400 million under budget.
"If that's not reason enough to celebrate, Texans trying to get from Georgetown down to 290, up the Mopac Extension, or across the new Texas 45 can look forward to faster commutes with fewer accidents," Perry said.
The governor attributed the state's ability to complete these roads in less than four years to the public-private partnership funding mechanisms that the legislature authorized and voters approved in 2001.
"With new and innovative ways to pay for transportation, we can build needed roads sooner and at a lower cost to taxpayers," Perry said. "Had we used the old transportation funding model and relied on gas taxes to finance this expansion, it would have taken an estimated 25 years to complete these roads."
Joining Perry at the announcement were U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta, Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson, and state Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Taylor and chairman of the House Transportation Committee.
"Texas is showing the rest of the country how to expand major parts of its highway system by leveraging private capital," said Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta. "That is why more states need to follow Texas' lead and pass legislation allowing the private sector a broader role in funding and operating transportation systems."
The roads are being financed with a combination of funding sources, including a loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation, bond sales, local government contributions of right-of-way, and tolls.
"If state and local leaders hadn't embraced this modern vision for transportation funding, Central Texans would have only two options: Pay at least a dollar more at the pump for each gallon of gas or waste even more time in a rush hour parking lot that gets filled with more trucks and vehicles with each passing year," Perry said.
Perry also noted that drivers will be able to order the TxTAG, a windshield sticker that will allow motorists to pass through toll booths at posted speeds. The TxTAG, which will save motorists 10 percent off the regular toll, can be used on every toll road in the state. Texans can visit www.txtag.org to get a TxTAG account.