DALLAS - Harris County, Tex., hopes to reach a preliminary agreement with the Texas Turnpike Authority to acquire the Houston Ship Channel toll bridge during a meeting scheduled for today, the head of the county's toll road authority said.

Under the county's proposal, Harris County would take over the bridge and, by issuing bonds, defease the debt obligations of the Texas Turnpike Authority, which is attempting to head off default of junk-rated junior lien bonds. The authority floated the junk bonds about eight years ago to cover revenue shortfalls on the bridge, which has lost money since it opened in 1982.

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