PLANO — Collin County leaders say even if voters approve hundreds of millions of dollars for transportation needs in November, the funding will make only a small dent in their long-term traffic woes.
County Commissioner Duncan Webb told business leaders at a forum Wednesday that the county will need $13 billion for roads over the next three or four decades. Later Wednesday, former Commissioner Mark Reid, during a presentation to the Frisco Tea Party, said the figure is $12.6 billion.
Voters in the fast-growing county will have a chance to take a small bite out of that price tag. The county is asking voters to approve a $750 million bond package — and all but $10 million is earmarked for roads.
Michael Morris, transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, said during the Collin County Business Alliance forum that the bond money "will get us started."
"It's not the solution," he said. "It's the start."
Morris said the county could leverage the bond money with $800 million in state and federal dollars already allotted for Collin County. Morris said the county could get more value out of that money if the county works with the Texas Department of Transportation and others on engineering and right-of-way needs.
County officials hope it's enough cash up-front to get routes approved and protect land for the necessary roads to then be built.
"We're growing so rapidly and developing the raw land to the point where we're closing in all the corridors," Webb said. "We need to get the lines on the map."
Reid, during his presentation, likened Collin County's current map to Dallas County's in 1960. Back then, Dallas County had roughly the same population that Collin County has now.
Interstates 20, 30 and 35 were being connected by the LBJ Freeway, providing Dallas County both highway access near its borders and a quick means of getting downtown.
Nearly 60 years later, Collin County has three limited-access highways. None are in the county's growing eastern half. Two of the three are toll roads, which have largely fallen out of favor politically.
Michael Morris, Duncan Webb, Gary Thomas, Mo Bur and Kristina Holcomb, left to right, are pictured at the Collin County Business Alliance panel discussion on transportation and mobility issues in Plan on Wednesday.
(Louis DeLuca/Staff Photographer)
The biggest of three county requests on the November ballot is $600 million, specifically for "non-tolled freeways." An additional $140 million item is for thoroughfares. A third proposition, $10 million, is for parks and open spaces.
A solution for traffic along U.S. Highway 380, the county's main existing east-west route, has been called the top priority for county leaders. The 32-mile road is likely to get a significant chunk of the $600 million bond measure for a bypass or expansion. But the proposed routes have created political rifts, especially between McKinney and Prosper.
The two Wednesday events focused on the broader issues and didn't mention the tensions over that road.
Reid, who was on the planning committee for the bond package and now is speaking on behalf of the pro-bond political action committee Collin County on the Move, said the one place where November bond money might be used to put concrete on the ground quickly is the county's Outer Loop. The project's environmental work is finished and the route has been determined.
"This is the very first piece of those 20- to 30-year projects," Reid said. "Most will likely be used for the preliminary work so we can be able to build the roads as other money arrives."