CIBOLO — A firm seeking to build a toll road says local officials’ enthusiasm for the project seems to be waning, but municipal leaders counter the partnership needs to be a two-way-street.
Texas Turnpike Corp. also wants to have a hearing on a potential bond to secure financing for the remaining $152 million for construction of the Cibolo Parkway toll road, a company official said. At the same time, TTC is imploring Cibolo leaders to be better collaborators regarding the controversial endeavor.
In an Oct. 22 letter to City Manager Robert Herrera, TTC blasted town officials, claiming they delayed the roadway’s development by continually requesting additional progress reports in exchange for full cooperation.
It also took the city to task for not relaying its backing of the project to the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, as well as cancelling a planned hearing on the bond at the fire station and failure to approve an interlocal agreement for tolling services.
AAMPO disburses federal funds for local infrastructure initiatives, with input from local governments.
In response to what it terms Cibolo’s nonsupport, TTC is seeking mediation to resolve differences between the parties.
“Notwithstanding the failure of the city to cooperate as required, (Cibolo Turnpike LP) has made and continues to make significant progress in the development of the project,” the letter reads. “CTLP remains committed to the success of the project and continues to move forward, incurring ongoing substantial expense and undertaking tremendous effort in furtherance of the project.”
According to Mayor Stosh Boyle, the toll-road company hasn’t acted in good faith either.
The business wasn’t permitted to distribute an up-to-date mailer, which provided information about project advancements and mentioned several residents’ support, the mayor said. The correspondence also noted the two-lane tollway, stretching 6.4 miles from FM 1103 at Weil Road to Zuehl Road and Interstate 10, will open in 2023 and expand to four lanes in ensuing years.
Boyle believes the missive raised more questions than answers.
“We have informed (TTC) to not send out any more mailers without our approval,” he said. “It was released for public opinion before our City Council has had a chance to discuss it as a group.”
Toll-road opponent Katie Cunningham called TTC’s progress statement “laughable.”
“The company doesn’t seem to know how to make the project believable that it is going to happen,” she said. “Every project they have partnered in has had similar outcomes, whether it be mediation or lawsuits. That is a concern we had from the beginning. We brought it up to the council before it was voted on and we were ignored.”
Meanwhile, TTC is trying to convene the hearing for a possible bond to net the remaining funds for construction, said company spokesman Keith Bilbrey. According to the Cibolo Parkway Project website, TTC anticipated finalizing financial plans by November; the city’s reversal of using the fire station to host a meeting has caused a delay.
Toll-road officials told Cibolo politicos they anticipated obtaining $12 million for final land acquisitions this fall after getting $4 million for initial procurements. Bilbrey couldn’t say how much financing TTC has reached as of press time.
The company has acquired right-of-entry access to 43 of the required 52 parcels for inspections and tests along the projected route. The figure includes developer D.R. Horton, who didn’t grant TTC such rights at the time of the last project update during the June 11 council meeting.
D.R. Horton representatives couldn’t be reached for comment.
The project has drawn intense criticism since its 2016 inception as a roadway to lessen traffic congestion. Critics said they are concerned about any possible loss of property rights and by the thoroughfare’s reduction from four lanes to two, despite now costing more than twice as originally outlined.
Those concerns propelled the Guadalupe County Commissioners Court to ask AAMPO earlier this year to cancel funding.
AAMPO’s acceptance is needed for the Texas Department of Transportation to OK the project’s tie-ins to state roads 1103, FM 78 and I-10, toll-road detractors say.
Bilbrey debunked the notion, saying the parkway will be a city road built according to TxDOT standards.
Boyle said city leaders have requested TTC to provide TxDOT’s approval of the road tie-ins and breakdowns of hard costs the company has incurred with the project since January 2018.
A 173-page environmental study TTC released in October didn’t reveal any issues to block the project from occurring, Bilbrey said.
Residents can view the document in its entirety via the Cibolo Parkway project’s website at http://ciboloparkway.org/.