Collin County Commissioners approved a request from county staff March 18 to make improvements to the county's thoroughfare plan. Several changes were proposed, but the most significant change is switching the Outer Loop to a freeway instead of a tollway, said Clarence Daugherty, Collin County director of engineering, during the March 18 meeting.
“Originally the Outer Loop was put on the [county's] thoroughfare plan as a tollway, and the Collin County Turnpike Authority was created as well," he said. "So the intent was obviously to raise funds through tolls, [or sell] bonds to be paid back by tolls, just as the tollways we have now are. Since then, the view of that has been different."
The Outer Loop is proposed to extend east from the Denton County and Collin County line then south to Rockwall County. The loop is expected to help relieve traffic on US 380 and SH 78. Attracting more traffic to the new road is important for a successful thoroughfare plan, Daugherty said.
“A roadway that’s a freeway will carry more traffic than a tollway simply because of the deterrence the tolls have on people," he said.
Without the use of tolls, the county will rely on federal, state and county funds to pay back the bonds, Daugherty said. In addition, the county will explore opportunities to have service roads built privately or by cities.
The proposed loop already has a two-lane service road that runs between US 75 and SH 121 in Melissa. Construction is projected to eventually begin on another service road from the Dallas North Tollway to SH 121 and eventually run east of SH 78 and south to I-30.
Land between the Dallas North Tollway east to Preston Road was acquired by the county in January as part of the Outer Loop. In addition, commissioners gave county staff the authority to evoke eminent domain to acquire more land east of Preston Road to CR 87.