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Harris County
H-GAC Transportation Policy Council
by Jim Guidry
Friday, May 24, 2013

The Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council today voted unanimously to refer a draft Transportation Development Credit Policy back to the administration for additional work before it is considered again for action.  Listen (23:10)

H-GAC Manager of Transportation and Air Quality Programs Alan Clark explained that transportation development credits, also called toll credits, can be used as the local share of federally funded transportation activities.

“The local match, which would normally be used for a project, for example, could then be used for other transportation projects and priorities,” Clark said.

Harris County Public Infrastructure Director Art Storey, who is responsible for the Harris County Toll Road Authority, was prepared to vote against the policy.

“We’re going to spend $1.8 billion in the next seven years,” Storey said, referring to the HECTRA budget.  “That’s going to create some amount of credits.  We’re going to do it on the backs of the citizens of this region who use our facilities without state funding and without federal assistance.”

Storey said there are too many unanswered questions about the proposed policy, which he says is a “mechanism” to avoid the local match.

“There’s no free lunch,” he insisted.  “I’ve been in this business 60 years; and somebody pays for everything sometime.  Or it’s on the line of credit and gets passed on to our friends, successors and grandchildren.”

Houston City Council Member Stephen Costello made a motion to refer the policy back to the H-GAC staff, which was approved unanimously.

The board voted unanimously to approve a resolution for several Job Access Reverse Commute projects.  Galveston County Commissioner Kevin O’Brien questioned the priorities on the list.

“I haven’t heard any engagement with Galveston County,” O’Brien said.  “Do you have any participation by Galveston County?”

“By engagement, do you mean, did they submit a project?” asked Keri Hackett of the H-GAC staff.  “The opportunity is there.  Basically, there is a call for projects as advertised.  And so we only evaluate the projects that are submitted.  So, they are eligible to submit projects, yes.”

All other agenda items were approved.  All votes were unanimous. Attendance Report  
 (The agenda includes links to staff reports and will include additional audio excerpts)

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