HOUSTON - The Texas Turnpike Authority yesterday approved a plan to sell its financially troubled Houston Ship Channel Bridge to a newly created county agency - a proposal that the authority's own lawyers have said is not legally possible.

The 10-member authority board unanimously approved a plan developed by Dillon Read & Co., the authority's underwriter, to sell the bridge only if terms can be reached and a $320 million deal can be closed by Harris County's new Beltway 8 Transportation Corp. by Dec. 1.

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