Citizens to be Heard - EXPRESS LANES
The following was read during Citizens to be Heard at the City Council meeting on April 26, 2017. During this meeting several citizens stood up to speak about concerns with the toll road project. As of June 28th, this citizen has still not received a response from the city.
Dear Mayor and Council,
Thank you for reading my letter for me since I couldn’t make it to the meeting tonight. I’d like to speak about my concerns with the toll road, specifically the express lanes. In 2014 citizens of Cibolo voted to approve a bond that would expand FM1103 to 4 lanes with medians, bike lanes, sidewalks, center turn lanes, and acceleration/deceleration lanes. This taxpayer money has already been allocated to this much needed and much wanted project. In fact, the TXDOT design of 1103 follows the Master Plan design plan for “major arterials” which 1103 is designated.
At the last council meeting we were shown a nice, albeit unrealistic, video showing the express lanes as a handful of overpasses. Unfortunately this is not what the citizens were told or what the development agreement reflects.
During the public hearings the “express lanes” were not discussed much. However, when they were discussed they were described as being two lanes extending the length of 1103 from I-35 to Wagon Wheel.
When the “initial feasibly study” was presented in December many citizens voiced their concerns that what was shown did not match what was described during the public hearings.
After the vote on Feb. 28th citizens spoke with Mr. Crew who confirmed the express lanes would extend the length of 1103 and would not be confined to the overpasses.
When the agreement was published in March our suspicions were confirmed – In 3 separate places the “express lanes” are described as:
Development Agreement Page 1, Paragraph 3: Clarification of what the Expressway is - “consists of adding two express lanes in the median of the FM 1103 Improvements.”
Development Agreement Page 2, Paragraph 3: “Cibolo Turnpike proposes to add two express lanes within the median, a distance of approximately 4 miles the ‘Cibolo Expressway.’
Refer to Exhibit 1, Project Map - Image from the Development Agreement – Red lines shows TxDot Improvements, Green line (from i35 through to Weil) shows “Cibolo Expressway: (2 Express Lanes in the Median of FM 1103)”
This is especially concerning considering the development agreement allows the express lanes to be tolled if the driver travels from 35 to 10. If the “express lanes” are merely overpasses, then the taxpayer funded improved lanes of 1103 would be tolled by this private company. Is this even legal?
I’m not sure where the city got its additional legal counsel as no one I’ve asked has known, but the city needs to ask for a refund. This agreement has so many conflicting statements and unfavorable clauses that I’m shocked any attorney could advise it be signed. This extends to the “amendment” that was voted on during the Feb. 28th meeting to ensure the construction of the express lanes be done simultaneously with the 1103 TXDOT improvements. For example,
Development Agreement Page 2, Paragraph 3: The Cibolo Expressway project would begin after the completion of the TXDOT FM 1103 Improvements, and the City’s acceptance of FM 1103 from TXDOT. The Cibolo Expressway will be funded solely by Cibolo Turnpike; and, as provided herein, the construction of the Cibolo Expressway shall be coordinated with TXDOT so that the construction of the express lanes shall occur simultaneously with the construction proposed TXDOT improvements in order to minimize traffic disruption on FMM 1103.”
Development Agreement Page 5, Section bi: “… The City will request TxDot that the design for the FM 1103 Improvements accommodate for the addition of the future express lanes (being the Cibolo Expressway) with in the median; and that TxDot coordinate the construction of the Cibolo Expressway express lanes with the construction of the proposed TxDot improvements in order to minimize traffic disruption on FM 1103.”
As you’ve heard and will hear from other citizens, there are many concerns with the toll road. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” is cliché, but true in this situation. Nothing is free. Based on the issues with the express lanes, the inconsistencies in the development agreement, and with everything else presented by citizens tonight, I can’t support the toll road.