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Feds: Funding Would Boost Highway Project

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jack Fink
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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Omar Captain of Dallas says he hates getting stuck in traffic on his way to and from work on I-635. “Sometimes you get stuck in traffic and you get to work late and it’s very frustrating.”

But a $1.5 billion plan called the I-635 LBJ Freeway East project would expand the highway between Central Expressway and I-30. It would include managed toll lanes and continuous frontage roads. But one roadblock from making the plan a reality is the lack of federal money for the project.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx brought his eight state “Invest in America” bus tour to Garland Friday to warn drivers the government’s Highway Trust Fund is set to expire this August, and highlight the need for transportation funding.

“It’s a severe crisis,” according to Foxx.

Despite opposition, Foxx said President Obama’s proposed business tax reform plan would raise the needed money. “There is not an incredible willingness to raise taxes, there’s not a incredible willingness to borrow money, using deficit spending, and our proposal would allow us to make substantial investments in transportation without compromising or jeopardizing these issues.”

For now, the state doesn’t have the money either to fund the I-635 East project. TxDOT’s Deputy Executive Director John Barton said the state could not move forward yet with the plan to have a private company build the road and keep tolls collected.

“The legislature needs to really tell us what they would allow us to do,” said Barton. “Can we move forward under a public-private partnership?”

But Don Huffines, the Republican nominee for State Senate District 16 in Dallas believes the state needs to re-direct billions of dollars raised from vehicles sales and fees from the state’s general revenue fund to TxDOT.

“If we have enough money in the system, we don’t need toll roads, we don’t need managed lanes,” said Huffines.

He said he would consider a public-private partnership for the I-635 East project if the state still wouldn’t have enough money.

Omar Captain doesn’t like all the tolls either.

“It shouldn’t be high for us, because of all us are middle class, working people.”

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