North Texas Road Plan Passes Committee

From the FWST:

Legislation aimed at funding billions of dollars in road and rail improvements in North Texas cleared its first hurdle in the Legislature on Wednesday, winning approval from a key Senate committee.

The 7-2 vote by the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee advances the bill to the Senate floor for a vote as early as next week.

“We’ll pass it,” Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, the committee chairman and sponsor of SB855, said in predicting the likely outcome in the Senate. Approval there would send the issue to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, is sponsoring a companion measure.

Sens. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and Joan Huffman, R-Houston, voted against the bill.

City and county governments throughout North Texas, including Fort Worth and Arlington, have designated the legislation as their top legislative priority to help the area escape traffic congestion and pollution they say endanger future development. But opposition has begun sprouting up on a number fronts amid concerns that proposed fees and taxes in the bill would impose further hardships during the economic downturn.

The legislation would allow countywide elections in which voters would decide on a menu of funding options to finance transportation improvements. North Texas officials want to use the revenue to improve roadways and develop more than 200 miles of commuter rail throughout the multicounty Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington region, the fourth-most populous in the nation.

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