TTC Presents "Feasibility Study" to City Council
On January 9, 2018 TTC presented what they called a "feasibility study" to City Council. Unfortunately, TTC didn't have any actual data to support their claims of feasibility.
Previously TTC stated the feasibility study was actually a "Pro Forma," or financial feasibility, and not a full feasibility study. At the council meeting the only data presented was a draft budget with questionable amounts and traffic counts gathered by other organizations (TXDOT, the AAMPO, and the City of Cibolo). When pressed TTC stated they couldn't provide more information until they had "more final" data.
[UPDATE - When asked for the actual data behind their summaries at the Toll Road Public Meeting on 1/30/2018 John Crew responded with "You'll have to ask my attorney."]
Here is the link to the council meeting. The TTC presentation begins at 37:20. You may need to turn up your volume - they didn't speak directly into the microphone.
The PowerPoint presentation is also difficult to see. Here is a copy of the slides presented.
Some notes from the presentation:
TTC had received the initial draft of the Traffic & Revenue Report. Mr. Crew states this shows him two things: It's congested and will get worse, and there is going to be a lot of people moving to the area soon. Scott Young and John Crew presented the information.
Numbers are "very conservative" but Crew feels they are sufficient for us to continue to fund this and move toward construction. "We believe with the analysis we've done it indicates we will be able to build road as originally conceived. Will provide this analysis once it's more final. *Note: TTC admitted later in the presentation that these numbers do NOT support 4 lanes, only 2 lanes.
Traffic & Revenue Study - From TTC: when you do toll road development it shows how much traffic is anticipated and how much revenue based on that. The big question is do they match. Comprehensive TNR is important. 3rd party firm (Stantech) is providing this information.
Data Collection - all data presented has been presented before. TTC claims they went out and did traffic counts, but this data and background was not presented. They state they do their own model and calibrate model based on existing data sources.
Map difficult to see
2016 TXDOT Traffic Map
AAMPO 2025 estimated traffic counts
Design Speed is estimated to be 70MPH. Typically the posted speed is based on 85th percentile of this design speed. However, later in the presentation Mr. Crew states he expects this "high-speed facility" to have travelers going 70-80MPH
Number of Lanes - 2 or 4 lanes. Based on initial Traffic and Revenue study - the T&R will dictate how many lanes we can build at the beginning of the project. Currently it is only feasible to build 2 lanes first, then later (when warranted, and when money is there) TTC plans to build the other 2 lane section.
Truck Traffic - No specific plans for accommodating truck traffic. Normal road. Wear and tear could be an issue if trucks do use it.
Entrance to the Toll Road -
"Partial Trumpet" on 1103 - 16' loop over Cibolo Valley Ranch
Roundabout at Bolton Rd. instead of at Weil Rd.
Reason - traffic simulation run showed that the traffic circle at Weil would cause a huge delay because of traffic on 1103. It didn't make sense to have that on 1103.
Roundabout is an aesthetic feature. They felt it could be the "Gateway into Cibolo" from I-10.
Note: The toll road connects to Zuehl Rd, not to I-10 or access road.
Budget - 4 lanes $125M, 2 lane $99M
Environmental issues -
Very important to see issues associated with this
do this according to state and federal rules as if its a TXDOT project
ACI is the consultant
The schedule of this environmental assessment was not provided in the council packet. No timeline given.
Scott stated it is "actually very typical to do an EA for this type of project"
Once EA is final it will either show significant impact (EIS will be required) or no significant impact (no EIS required).
Once final (EA or EIS), it will be submitted to TXDOT and open for public comment
Contacting Landowners -
Have been contacting landowners of 40 or so properties, tried to make contact with all affected property owners.
Would begin acquisition process if the landowner could be contacted. TTC couldn't go to closing until the project's financial closing.
Questions from Council:
Please note that these questions and answers may not be word-for-word what was said and may be summarized or reworded for clarity. Please see the video of the meeting, link above, to hear it firsthand.
Garrett: Project cost estimate - what were considerations for 2 lanes? How are cars supposed to pass slower traffic? If the current estimates show only 2 lanes are feasible, do you have estimates on what 2 lanes would cost later.
TTC Answer: We will ask specifically of engineers. Right now it's about $40M, current dollars, and we estimate inflation and increase in costs. It could be up to $60M later.
Garrett Response: So realistically building a 2 lane first could cost $25M more than a 4 lane road now.
TTC Answer: Early revenue generation is not sufficient enough to build. Build it to extent you need.
Gibbs: How effective would two lane toll road be?
TTC Answer: We would never let it get as congested as 1103 before building more lanes. They build these things called "super twos." It is necessary for us to build a facility that will travel at 70 or 80MPH so we have people drive it.
Hicks: So if there is a grandma driving 45MPH, how would people get around that? Two lanes doesn't seem feasible for our citizens, especially to do this again later to add 2 more lanes.
TTC Answer: Our preference is to finance 4 lanes. Early on, until we get more into the traffic study, I don't know that the financial market will let me build 4 lanes because the models show people won't use them as much as I think they will.
Byrd: Has there been consideration for an "option c" - build the flyovers at 4 lanes from the beginning? And I want to clarify that you are not coming to us tonight saying this is a 2 lane road.
TTC Answer: I don't have a T&R to warrant a 2 lane. We have only done T&R for 4 lane so far but those numbers are showing 2 lanes are feasible at this time. We are ready to move forward to the next step.
Boyle: The 4 lane road includes shoulders. The two lane road does not. There is no 3rd lane for emergency vehicles?
TTC Answer: There will still be shoulders on 2 lane section, non barrier separated. Right now we are trying to make the assessment if we can do 4 lane structure. We finance based on a conservative pattern. We can walk into 2 right now, if we find the cash for 4 we'll do 4.
We could've come here and said "we're out," but we are still putting additional dollars between now and June. We will come up with a real final program at that time. To me it does seem feasible. An investment grade traffic study is expensive and I've almost spent a million bucks.
Gibbs: Will we get a copy of proforma tonight? Or any data?
TTC Answer: We won't have that until we have a final investment grade traffic study in another 3 months.
Gibbs: So it's just a high level guess that this is feasible?
TTC Answer: Yes, this is one of the points along the way that we could pull out. I can't take what we have today and finance it. We think it does work so we are continuing the studies.
TTC: In our development agreement it says we would do it by phases if necessary
Gibbs: Where? We never talked about a 2 lane road.
John Crew: "Well, sorry about that miscommunication"
Hicks: how high is the circle at Cibolo Valley Ranch?
TTC Answer: At least 16 feet
Hougue: How long will it take to build the other two lanes later?
TTC Answer: It will be an additional 24-30 months.
Russell: Is it still planned on going to the bond market Sept 2018/
TTC Answer: We plan on production beginning at the end of 2021. TXDOT is not starting on FM1103 until 2022/2023. We need to talk to them to speed that up.
Byrd: It's been mentioned before, just want to reiterate. How is this different than an EA that TXDOT does?
TTC Answer: This is typical to what they would do. On FM1103 for the improvements they did a lesser one using category exemption. This toll project warranted EA. There are no federal dollars so we don't need a federal review. We are still doing the model and analysis per state requirements.
Byrd: So it's fair to state you are doing more than required
TTC Answer: Yes
Hicks: On FM 1103, there is a road already there. They don't need to do an EA because there was already one done.
Boyle: Pleased to see you got a 3rd party to do the EA. Santec. How many of those EAs have they done for you in the past.
TTC Answer: They are a nationwide firm and do them all over the world. Used to be called Volmer - They did about 20 for me in my other job. They were pivotal in refinancing ship channel bridge and refinancing Beltway 8.
CM Herrera Closing Comments: Lets keep things in perspective. This was just a scheduled update. This is nothing. If the discussion shows feasibility is there then a 2nd public meeting is scheduled. We don't want to delay another public meeting. A copy of studies will be kept in secretary office. It's important they share all the information they have. They will be buying the ROW for 250 feet.