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County Denies Trying to Slip Toll Road Issue On To Agenda

A group of Harris County residents say they want more notice the next time Harris County Commissioners vote on important toll road issues. County officials say they’ve given plenty of notice and don’t know what else they could do. Click to Listen The issue revolves around the county’s latest 5 year capital improvement plan, which […]

A group of Harris County residents say they want more notice the next time Harris County Commissioners vote on important toll road issues. County officials say they’ve given plenty of notice and don’t know what else they could do.

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The issue revolves around the county’s latest 5 year capital improvement plan, which includes almost $200,000 for feasibility studies on five new priority toll road corridors. Commissioners approved the plan, despite protests from members of the Citizens’ Transportation Coalition, who say the county slipped the toll road portion into the CIP without public input. Robin Holzer is the coalition’s president. “There’s a policy shift towards toll roads and I would argue that most Houstonians have no idea how many roads are proposed for tolling. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, government is about a good public process and the citizens should be participating. They’ll be better projects with more public participation,” says Holzer.

The five priority toll corridors include a segment of the Grand Parkway from 1-10 to 290 and an extension of the Hardy Toll Road from the North Loop to downtown. Coalition member Polly Ledvina says even though there had been hints about the possibility of the projects, citizens didn’t know the full extent of their progress.

County officials say they’ve given plenty of notice and have gone out of their way to inform the public about meetings and progress regarding toll road corridors. Harris County Judge Robert Eckels says the toll road issue should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. “There was nothing today that has not been available to the public for years and that will not continue to be made public about these specific projects,” says Eckels.

Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee says responsibility falls on both sides, and it’s likely the county will review its process of notifying the public about issues such as additional toll roads.

Officials say the toll road issue is far from a done deal, and the vote for feasibility funding is simply the earliest stage of what could be a long process before new toll roads are actually built.

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