By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
The Cameron County Regional Mobile Authority (CCRMA) came before the Cameron County Commissioners Court Tuesday to request an amendment to the trust agreement for State Highway 550 after revenues from the toll road fell short of projections by as much as 40 percent.
CCRMA Chief Financial Officer Adrian Rincones explained at length the current status of the Rio Grande Valley’s first fully-electronic toll road and what the CCRMA was proposing. The construction of SH 550 has been divided into stages, he said, with the first two — the FM 1847 bridge over Parades Line Road, and the Port Spur segment connecting Old Alice Road to Highway 48 — accounting for some $46 million worth of work. At issue currently, however, is the third phase — the Direct Connector segment — and its $50 million price tag.
Originally, the CCRMA planned to fund that section of the highway via a $30 million ‘pass-through’ grant from TxDOT, paid out over time, while toll revenues generated by the road would fund the remaining debt and operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, Rincones explained.
The CCRMA also wished to take advantage of the County’s favorable credit rating to issue bonds to cover the gap after the state grant was applied to the project. In exchange, the CCRMA agreed to pay an annual County Administrative Fee (CAF) back to the County. The County agreed to the partnership and issued bonds to the tune of $40 million in 2012; however, as Rincones explained, three issues have hampered that plan.
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