Texas Rep. Rob Orr, R-Burleson, on Wednesday announced he has introduced legislation that would make Johnson County a member of the North Texas Tollway Authority, and as a member, eligible for a seat on the NTTA governing board.
Orr’s House Bill 2921 is based, he said, on the current construction of the Chisholm Trail Parkway, NTTA’s newest toll road that will link downtown Fort Worth to Cleburne. The toll road, also known as Texas 121, is expected to finish by summer 2014.
“I believe when a tollway authority expands into a new county, the citizens utilizing the tollway and paying the fees should have representation on the authority’s governing body,” Orr said.
Orr said the Johnson County Commissioner’s Court petitioned for admission to the NTTA in the summer of 2007, but the NTTA Board of Directors has not acted on the request. He said HB 2921 will assure that the residents of Johnson County have representation in the decisions made relating to NTTA and the Chisholm Trail Parkway.”
Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon said on Wednesday that the county’s first petition for NTTA membership had been stalled by the agency’s bylaws, which required that petitioners be a stakeholder in a toll road before being admitted as an NTTA member.
“The NTTA bylaws say that to have representation on the board you either have to be a stakeholder [in a toll road], or have the governor appoint someone to the board,” Harmon said. “At one point, we did have a representative on the board, when the governor appointed Kay Walls, but that has been some time ago. But that is why they didn’t act on our petition back in 2007, because we weren’t stakeholders then.”
But with the Chisholm Trail Parkway nearing completion, Harmon said, Johnson County officials were already planning to petition again for NTTA membership.
“I was not sure if we became stakeholders when construction on the toll road started, or if it is when the toll road is completed. I am getting clarification on that,” Harmon said. “But either way, we had planned on petition for membership again.”
Harmon said at noon Wednesday that he had only just learned of Orr’s bill and had not had time to read it thoroughly, although it seemed “fairly straightfoward.”
“I think Rep. Orr’s intentions are certainly good. And I certainly believe that Johnson County should representation on the NTTA board,” Harmon said. “If the taxpayers of Johnson County are going to be using that toll road and paying those tolls, then we should definitely have a voice on the board.”