House Leaders Consider Purchase Of Private Toll Road Contracts
At the beginning of March, the Austin-based SH 130 Concession Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy because it was not making enough from drivers to pay its outstanding debt. So state lawmakers on the House Transportation Committee are studying how much outstanding debt do the other 12 private toll companies have that are operating and maintaining the 51 toll systems in Texas.
TxDOT’s Executive Director James Bass laid out the current debt totals for all private tolled roads in Texas.
“The total outstanding debt as of January 1st on those facilities was $21-billion. The amount of total payments remaining to be paid on that outstanding principal add up to $38-billion,” Bass explained.
Bass told lawmakers many of these loans were set up on a fixed schedule and could only be paid over a 20 to 40 year period.
During the hearing Wednesday, Committee Chairman, El Paso Democratic Rep. Joe Pickett, asked TxDOT to go back and re-calculate how much toll operators are making from drivers on SH 130 vs. the reduction of traffic on Interstate 35. They want to know how much more of a benefit it would be for the state to take over the company’s debt and make a large section of that roadway non-tolled.