Harris County Won't Sell Toll Road System

Harris County will be keeping its toll roads, rejecting the idea of selling or leasing the system and cashing what could have been a multi-billion dollar check. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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Commissioners had toyed with the idea of cashing-in on the system, with several studies that estimated its worth at upwards of $20 billion. Leasing would have netted less for the county, but would have allowed it to retain some control. Instead, commissioners voted to keep the toll road system, which brought in over $370 million in revenues last fiscal year. This is Harris County Judge Robert Eckels.

"We like the public accountability. We like the ability for the Commmisioners Court to control and maintain the operations of the toll road system. We don't see, through our studies with our financial advisors, a big financial benefit to a transfer of that asset and think it's important that the voters still have input into the process and make sure that we are accountable."

Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia says it just didn't make sense to give up control of a system that plays an important role in the infrastructure of the county.

"I think in the long-run the commissioners had to wrestle with what's best for the future growth of the system and for us to be able to maintain the control that we need to determine the growth and the increase of the tolls while protecting the taxpayers interest."

The Harris County Tollroad Authority operates 83 miles of roadway, including the Sam Houston, Westpark and Hardy toll roads.

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