By Jerry Hogan

I attended a city council meeting this past week where a representative from Rockwall County presented the details of the proposed $150 million road bBond.

 Unfortunately, it very quickly became evident that the citizens attending the meeting, and most of the city council members, had no idea of how the proposed bond was prepared or how it was used.

 A fact of life in the state or federal road construction business, is that it is a very long process.  From the time the need is established for road work before it ever comes to completion is often 8 years or longer.

 The details of the proposed road rond are just the first step in this long process.

 To develop the details contained in the road bond, the Rockwall County representatives, and the members of the Road Bond Consortium, must identify the proposed projects to be included in the bond.

This identification of projects is done through the meetings held in the Road Consortium and with ones held with the city engineers and representatives of each city in the county. Here the attempt is to identify those road projects that are the most compelling. For example, widening some roads to more lanes, building an overpass over an existing road, adding a turn lane off a road, adding a by-pass road, etc.

At this point this is simply developing the list of projects that need to be provided. No engineering studies, feasibility studies, or rights-of-way have been procured; simply an identification of what the members think need to happen.

Taking this identified listing of projects, desk top engineering estimates are then made of the engineering cost of each project. These costs are then combined to arrive at the needed Bond request.

This bond number is only the amount of dollars needed to do the estimated engineering on each proposed project. The agreement with TxDOT is that the county pays for the engineering for the road projects and then TxDOT pays all the construction costs.

Using past data on how the previous total of $117 million in Rockwall County bond monies have  been used, actual road cost for completed projects in the county show that for every dollar of county money spent, the state has contributed 8 dollars; close to a billion dollars in road work in our county for the $117 million expended road bond money .

After a bond is approved, the priority of implementation of the projects is determined by the Road Bond Consortium. Those projects in the bond are also examined time and time again to insure they still meet the needs of the cities and county. Some may be changed, and substitutes may be offered for ones that no longer meet the needs of the cities.

Implementation of specific projects are managed by the Rockwall Commissioners Court in conjunction with the Road Consortium. As stated by the county in the preparation of the $150 million bond on the November ballot, it will have no effect on individuals’ taxes.

The Court will implement the projects over time to insure this is correct. For example, the last $117 million in road bonds have been implemented over 17 years to ensure the tax impact is zero.

Any time some people hear “road construction” they immediately think of a 6 lane Superhighway going right behind their house! No way does anyone want that …and that is why the road construction in our county is so carefully controlled by our representatives on the Road Consortium and our elected representatives on the Commissioners Court.

We are the ones that are establishing the need and not being the subject of outside organizations telling us what we want and what is good for us.

The Road Consortium has established the successfully model of how roads get implemented in our county. It has taken an agreement among all the cities and the county on how this is done, and it has taken the counties citizens contributing by providing the authority to spend bond money as our part of the construction process.

Let’s continue this successful process by voting Yes on the $150 Road Bond proposal. It will help us all.

 Jerry Hogan is a former Rockwall County Judge and can be reached at214-394-4033

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