Keep hope alive for Texas 360 extension in Arlington, Mansfield

Posted Monday, Jan. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

Topics: Texas

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People who live in Arlington south of Interstate 20 and in Mansfield have been fighting traffic congestion and pushing for the expansion of the southern portion of Texas 360 for at least three decades. State transportation officials even put it in their 10-year plan in 1986, but the wait goes on.

Those same people must have felt particularly neglected in recent years as major roadway expansion projects sprouted all around them through innovative efforts by the state transportation department, the North Texas Tollway Authority and even private developers.

Now those same entities have turned their innovative ideas loose on the Texas 360 expansion project, and it looks like they've found a way to get it done. The people who have struggled through the Texas 360 congestion for all these years have seen hopeful ideas come and go before, so don't blame them if they're skeptical.

But, honest, this looks like the real deal.

Most of that southern portion of the roadway actually runs on what were built as the access roads to a major controlled-access freeway. The NTTA promised five years ago to finish out the main lanes as a toll road from Sublett Road/Camp Wisdom Road in Arlington to U.S. 287 in southern Mansfield

But NTTA promised other major projects at the same time, and in moving forward with those projects the tollway agency ran up $9.5 billion in debt. Its leaders did not want to risk taking on more debt for the Texas 360 extension. Transportation department officials, including Commissioner Bill Meadows stepped in, and the plan they and NTTA officials came up with is expected to go to the Texas Transportation Commission next month.

Essentially, the transportation department will bankroll the project, with NTTA stepping in once it is built to maintain the roadway and collect tolls. The toll revenue will be used to pay for operations and maintenance and, eventually, to pay back the transportation department at what Meadows called a "minimal" rate of interest.

It will be very disappointing if this doesn't work. Keep hope alive.

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