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I'm trying to wrap my head around what happened here...



So HCTRA gave up the I-10 lanes and the (potentially) managed 290 section... in return TXDOT will give them 1/3 of the $$'s generated on I-10 and...??  Did HCTRA pay for the I-10 piece or just agree to manage them?  Anyone know what the split was before with TXDOT?  Does this really free up much for HCTRA to tackle other projects?

Edited by SkylineView
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I was also very surprised that HCTRA will turn the Katy managed lanes over to TxDOT. My recollection is that HCTRA contributed funding to the Katy Freeway project. I don't know the exact amount but I'm thinking it was a minimum of $250 million. But don't quote me on that statistic - I really need to research to verify the facts.


For the US 290 project, maybe HCTRA decided it would be a money-loser. But I don't think the objective is strictly to make money - the objective was to provide locally-generated funding to expedite the project. TxDOT expects big local funding contributions, ideally from tolls, such as the $3.2 billion the North Texas Turnpike Authority paid TxDOT for "rights" to build the SH 121 toll road in Collin County north of Dallas. HCTRA was slated to contribute $400 million to the US 290 project.


For the Katy Managed lanes, I would tend to think the financial contribution during the construction period (2005-2008) is a sunk cost and the revenue from ongoing operation should be positive.


Also recently, HCTRA declined to participate in the SH 288 (South Freeway) managed lanes.


So the question is: Why did HCTRA want to get out of the managed lanes business?


My best guess is that Harris County Commissioners don't want to be involved in the politics of setting toll rates on the managed lanes. They want TxDOT to take any heat from high tolls and rising tolls. In North Texas, managed lane toll rates are set by their equivalent of HGAC (NCTCOG), providing plenty of political "cover" for any specific politician. Other factors could also be lack of profitability in managed lanes and wanting to spend the $400 million on another project - maybe the Hardy Toll Road extension into downtown.



Edited by MaxConcrete
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I think that it's probably just a function of maximizing construction dollars.  HCTRA was really created to execute projects where there wasn't sufficient state funding to move forward.  In these cases, allowing the state to take over construction and management of these lanes might allow HCTRA to execute projects that it might not have been able to get to otherwise.

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TxDOT did indeed build the HOT lanes in Katy Freeway. The final agreement was a combination of support between TxDOT and HCTRA. Below is a selection of quotes that deal with that.


The design of the managed lane was already under way when HCTRA got involved, so 

there was minimal discussion of ingress and egress points. TxDOT was originally responsible for 

“pavement and pylons,” and HCTRA would take care of the tolling equipment and booths.

HCTRA’s preference was to have concrete barrier separation. This was also the preference of the

Harris County Constable’s office that would be responsible for enforcement on the facility

according to the operating agreements. This was seen as a safety issue and went so far as to

involve state representatives. Other parties were concerned that having concrete barriers would

create a “concrete canyon” and strenuously opposed this. Ultimately, the “candlestick pylons”

were chosen with the provision that HCTRA would maintain them.

There was some “conflict” between TxDOT and METRO concerning the project design

because METRO wanted to preserve the corridor as a potential rail corridor. Other parties did not

see this as a priority, and because METRO was not as financially invested in the project, the

request was not a priority. However, because the original HOV lane had been constructed with 197

FTA funds, they were able to negotiate to keep buses in the corridor. Additionally, METRO did

make financial contributions to ensure that several of the overpasses would support future rail


The agreement

laid out responsibilities for each of the involved entities:

 TxDOT was responsible for construction.

 Harris County was responsible for incident management, maintenance, and operation

of the toll facility.

 METRO operated buses and support vehicles freely on the facility.

The second agreement, the tri-party agreement, was a legally binding agreement between:

 TxDOT.

 Harris County.


The agreement legally established the responsibilities of the partnering agencies:

 The state leased the managed lanes to Harris County. Harris County was responsible

for operating and maintaining the toll facility. The county used toll revenues to repay

debt, as well as operate and maintain the facility.

 TxDOT audited the toll operations annually and report the findings to FHWA.

Edited by IronTiger
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Yep, my guess is Hardy downtown connector as well. Interesting that they are getting out of all the managed lanes, but I guess financially it makes sense to focus their assets on other projects like the hardy connector and finishing the grand parkway. I wonder what will be next for HCTRA after Hardy and GP are completed.

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  • The title was changed to HCTRA & METRO

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