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Three separate plans spell out different focus for Texas roads (Longview) ^ | Sunday, February 27, 2005 | Glenn Evans

Posted on 02/27/2005 4:53:16 PM PST by Paleo Conservative

Highway construction has become a three-lane road in Texas ? one path for local projects, one for a statewide dream and another federal proposal stretching from Michigan to the Rio Grande Valley.

"They're totally independent and separate," Texas Transportation Commissioner Robert Nichols said. The Jacksonville resident, one of five members of the Texas Transportation Commission, is more closely involved with Gov. Rick Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor plan and the new Regional Mobility Authorities than with the federal interstate that, for now, includes a leg through Northeast Texas.

Trans-Texas Corridor

The proposed Trans-Texas Corridor is a network comprised of passenger vehicle highways, lanes for 18-wheelers only, passenger and freight train tracks and utility lines. It would connect major cities without entering them and would cut broad rights-of-way to try to avoid the interstate system's fate of continually adding lanes along hemmed-in routes.

"The Trans-Texas Corridor is a long-term vision that encompasses the entire state," said Robert Black, spokesman for Perry. "It will be built as needed ? folks in East Texas don't need to worry about bulldozers coming next week."

Or next year. The first swath will bisect the state along a north-south line roughly following Interstate 35. Cintra-Zachry, a Spanish corporation selected to build the I-35 corridor, will pay $7.2 billion for the opportunity to build the roads and recoup its investment through tolls. The $7.2 billion includes $1.2 billion the state can spend in conjunction with the corridor, Black said.

"They will have the right to operate the tolls for 50 years," Black said of Cintra, which is working with a San Antonio company. "The tolls cannot be set without state approval. ... This first section is going to be built with no taxpayers' funds."

Cintra's contract is for roads, the first of which are scheduled for completion in 2010. A second bidding process will kick off construction of rail and utility lines.

Black acknowledged growing opposition from farmers and land owners who suspect the state is about to grab significant pieces of rural landscape.

"It's understandable," he said. "But it's important to remember one thing: Gov. Perry ... recognized there would be concerns and nervousness from some of the rural folks over the Trans-Texas Corridor. The Trans-Texas Corridor will be the first highway system in the state and the only highway system that will allow landowners who have the corridor running through their land to collect royalties.

"They'll have the option of either fair-market value for their land, or they can participate in a royalty plan for the next 10 or 20 years, whatever they will be able to negotiate to get from royalties."

Royalties would be paid from toll receipts.

Nichols noted that farmers protested when interstates started crossing their fields in the 1950s and 1960s. Now he said the interstate system is plugged up by traffic. That's maddeningly true of I-35, he said, which cannot be widened.

"When we've got that fresh piece of dirt, we don't want to make the same mistake they made 50 years ago," he said. "If we had only made (I-35) wider 50 years ago, we wouldn't be having this conversation today. In the next 20 years, there are going to be an additional 9 million people in the state of Texas, 90 percent of whom will be in those urban corridors and half of whom will be in that one (I-35) section. (Farmers) don't like it. They don't want a toll road going through their farm. I understand that."

Interstate 69

Interstate 69 was designated to follow U.S. 59 from Carthage to Texarkana, but that was in a federal highway formula that expired 18 months ago.

"It's easy to designate. It's not easy to fund," Nichols said. "Although it's federally designated to be there, every six years we have a new federal transportation formula, which is a year and six months overdue."

New U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, didn't hide his support for I-69 in his successful campaign. In fact, days before the Nov. 2 election, he agreed to join leaders of six counties hoping to make the Northeast Texas leg of I-69 happen. (A west leg leaves Texas at Carthage and hooks back up with the east leg at Texarkana.)

Harrison County Judge Wayne McWhorter, a member of the I-69 Alliance board of directors, recalled delicately asking then-candidate Gohmert if he'd attend a meeting if he won the seat.

"He popped open his calendar, and on Nov. 4 we met," McWhorter said. "Louie came to be a student."

Gohmert issued a statement, in response to a request for comment on transportation issues, calling the I-69 a vital corridor through his district.

"Continuing to address the transportation issues in East Texas is vitally important for our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren," Gohmert said. "Since the constitution requires Congress to create roads, it is an important duty. The I-69 corridor truly is one of those vital projects from every standpoint."

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, in Longview earlier this month to discuss local emergency response capabilities, added that he is hopeful the 86 cents that Texas highways get for every dollar Texans pay in federal gasoline taxes will rise to 90 cents.

"My goal is to make sure we in Texas get our fair share of that money back for our transportation needs," Cornyn said. "I-69 is key to growth and economic success of this part of the state. It's also important to public safety."

McWhorter said federal highway planners are committed to the Louisiana leg of the interstate, but the Northeast Texas leg is less certain.

"We have to be paying attention," McWhorter said. "We have to be committed so we're assured that leg of I-69 comes up from Nacogdoches through Carthage to Marshall to somewhere near Jefferson to Cass County to somewhere in Bowie County to Texarkana."

Smith/Gregg Regional Mobility Authority

Born of the partnerships that built the Dallas/Fort Worth Turnpike and the Houston Beltway in past decades, Regional Mobility Authorities were created in the 2003 legislative session as a way for local leaders to bypass the state highway bureaucracy.

Instead of coaxing the Texas Department of Transportation to conduct traffic studies in hopes that local road improvements will join a long waiting list, projects backed by local officials can get a green light from RMAs formed by individual counties or partner counties.

The Smith/Gregg RMA has six local trustees, three from each county. They expect Perry to appoint a chairperson. Once a board is in place, the local mobility authority will be empowered to plan and build local highways.

The first, all involved agree, will be the outer loop around Tyler, giving folks such as Nichols in Jacksonville an alternative route to Tyler/Pounds Regional Airport. Drivers coming from the south now use Texas 69, which becomes Broadway Boulevard inside Tyler and frequently backs up.

"I can get to (the Tyler city limit) quicker than I can get from that point to the airport," Nichols said.

The outer loop, he said, will form the first leg of the East Texas Hourglass, a figure-eight that eventually will link outer loops around Tyler and Longview. That, in turn, could one day link to I-69 north of Marshall, Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt says.

"It's a big deal, and I hope I'm alive 25 years from now to see the fruit," Stoudt said. "This will be one of the major things that takes place in the evolution of East Texas in the next 25 years."

Like the old turnpike and beltway authorities, Regional Mobility Authorities will pay for new roads with tolls, at least partially. That gets under some taxpayers' skin, but Stoudt and Nichols noted that there always will be a free route to a driver's destination. It's likely to have traffic lights and longer drive times than the toll route.

"There might be all these things you don't want to deal with," Stoudt said. "But it will be free."

Northeast Texas needs the Hourglass, Stoudt said, to accommodate 100,000 Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth residents retiring every year and looking for a more rural setting for their golden years.

"We've got to get ourselves positioned for the future," Stoudt said.

He said the ability to take out loans to build projects now will take up the slack left by budget cuts to state and federal highway spending. The local mobility authority also will take the area beyond road-building to meet rail and air needs that could emerge in coming years.

"The role of the RMA is going to be versatile," he said. "We're going to be talking about higher-speed rail, we're going to be talking about major projects. We can use it for expansion of the airports. ... I believe it's going to be here to stay."

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government; US: Texas
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"It's understandable," he said. "But it's important to remember one thing: Gov. Perry ... recognized there would be concerns and nervousness from some of the rural folks over the Trans-Texas Corridor. The Trans-Texas Corridor will be the first highway system in the state and the only highway system that will allow landowners who have the corridor running through their land to collect royalties.
1 posted on 02/27/2005 4:53:16 PM PST by Paleo Conservative
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To: Paleo Conservative

A map of possible alternatives for TTC-35.

2 posted on 02/27/2005 4:53:52 PM PST by Paleo Conservative (Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Andrew Heyward's got to go!)
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Here are some links various Freepers have posted on other Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) threads on Free Republic

Paleo Conservative

Free Republic search on keyword "TTC"

Interview (Audio) NPR | February 8, 2005 A Superhighway for Texas?

Diddle E. Squat

Here's the website with more info and explanation:

Here's a list of meetings where you can ask questions(and I encourage everyone who can to attend and ask questions)

Here's a link to the map of the TTC-35 corridor alternatives, which are approximately 10 miles wide study areas (the actual selected single corridor will be at most 1/4 mile wide): 35_Alternatives_Map.pdf

Ben Ficklin

The Oklahoma Extension

La Entrada al Pacifico

1990-2000 Population Growth of Border Metro Areas

Bidders for TTC contract

NHS High Priority Corridors

Texas Sets the Pace in Highway Finance

Ray Perryman's Economic Benefit Analysis Of TTC


Port of Houston teams up with Panama to draw a piece of Asia's massive trade away from West Coast

3 posted on 02/27/2005 4:54:17 PM PST by Paleo Conservative (Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Andrew Heyward's got to go!)
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To: Diddle E. Squat; deport; maui_hawaii; Ben Ficklin; zeugma; MeekOneGOP; Fiddlstix; ken21; ...
Pro TTC Ping!

This is a pro Trans-Texas Corridor ping list.

Please let me know by Freepmail if you want on or off the list.

4 posted on 02/27/2005 4:55:22 PM PST by Paleo Conservative (Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Andrew Heyward's got to go!)
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To: Paleo Conservative

"Gov. Perry ... recognized there would be concerns and nervousness from some of the rural folks over the Trans-Texas Corridor."

it'd'n't that downright neigborly? (/s)

actually, there's other folks concerned 2.

5 posted on 02/27/2005 4:58:05 PM PST by ken21 ( warning: a blood bath when rehnquist, et al retire. >hang w dubya.< dems want 2 divide us.)
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To: Paleo Conservative
"Since the constitution requires Congress to create roads, it is an important duty."

6 posted on 02/27/2005 5:00:19 PM PST by Texas_Jarhead
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To: Paleo Conservative

Of course, we all know that UNIONS will be the big $$$$ winners no matter what happens!

7 posted on 02/27/2005 5:13:11 PM PST by jungleboy
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To: Paleo Conservative

With all these proposed roads, tollways, loops, connectors, Regional, Statewide, Federal, etc Texas will be lucky if it isn't all concrete by mid century.... Green zones may have to become the priority...

They are correct about needing something up in the Tyler area at this time.... imo.

8 posted on 02/27/2005 5:17:56 PM PST by deport (Other states try to abolish the death penalty, my state`s putting in an express lane."..TaterSalad)
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To: jungleboy
Of course, we all know that UNIONS will be the big $$$$ winners no matter what happens!

Where are you from? Texas is a right to work state.

9 posted on 02/27/2005 5:18:31 PM PST by Paleo Conservative (Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Andrew Heyward's got to go!)
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To: jungleboy

Unions in Texas the winner? I hope you are joking.

10 posted on 02/27/2005 5:18:45 PM PST by hadaclueonce (shoot low, they are riding Shetlands.....)
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To: Paleo Conservative
"The Trans-Texas Corridor will be the first highway system in the state and the only highway system that will allow landowners who have the corridor running through their land to collect royalties."

So now us poor hapless drivers will have to pay royalties to land owners, in addition to paying for condos on the French Riviera (for Cintra investors), in addition to paying the gas tax (that doesn't even get used for these roads), in addition to paying for the driver identification and tracking system (for collecting tolls), in addition to...

Thanks Governor Perry, we appreciate your conservatism.


11 posted on 02/27/2005 6:10:44 PM PST by BobL
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To: BobL

Same song, 95th verse.

12 posted on 02/27/2005 6:34:18 PM PST by Ben Ficklin
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To: BobL

The last resort of a despirate politician is to bribe the opposition with phoney claims that they will profit from a boondoggle. Gov. Perry's Democrat roots are showing. Promise anything to get them to agree to sell out their future.

13 posted on 02/27/2005 7:07:20 PM PST by anymouse
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To: Ben Ficklin
"Same song, 95th verse."

Don't worry, once either the TTC or its sponsors are gone, I'll shut up.
14 posted on 02/27/2005 7:08:49 PM PST by BobL
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To: anymouse

"Promise anything to get them to agree to sell out their future."

Absolutely, the royalty idea is a DEFINTE bribe, and goes to show that the TTC were clearly LYING when they said that all tolls would pay just for the highway.

Now we have to make a bunch of farmers rich with our toll money.

15 posted on 02/27/2005 7:10:32 PM PST by BobL
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To: BobL
Whoops, almost forgot...

While the usual pictures do look pretty, consider the following:

(1) The factors that are really critical in determining whether Texans are about to get shafted with this plan are missing. In particular, look for any links regarding contract details, state law, or anything else that may protect Texans. Other than some fluffy words, it is those details and the state law that will determine whether Texas build the greatest highway system, or becomes the laughing stock of the nation (right now, my vote is on the second). Remember this “project” is costing close to 200 Billion dollars, which is about $30,000 for a family of 4. This is the biggest government-orchestrated debt, ever, on the public (per capita), other than the national deficit. While private investors may be putting up the money for the system, from whom do you think they will DEMAND their money back? (hint: there are not enough NAFTA trucks to come close to covering these costs)

[[Update: there are some proposed law changes that will protect Texans, but who knows if they’ll ever see the light of day.]]

(2) The government will be TAKING huge amounts of land from private landowners, and virtually giving it over to a private company, Cintra (based in Spain), so that the company can build a toll road and probably be able to charge whatever the market will bear – as they do today in Canada. (technically speaking, we are being told that the concession is for 50 years, but we will not know for sure until we see the contract – and 50 years of being robbed is a long time)

(3) Speaking of Canada. Cintra now charges cars 19.5 US cents per mile if they have a transponder, and 23 US cents per mile (or more) if the do not have a transponder (these are peak rates, non-peak rates are about 1 cent less). Large Trucks are now charged 58 US cents per mile (peak) and 52 US cents per mile (non-peak). For the length of the highway, this is the highest toll rate in North America, and possibly the world. Cintra has won court rulings assuring them the right to continue raising tolls at will, and there NOTHING Canada can do to stop them for the next 95 years or so. Will trucks in Texas use Cintra’s new toll road? It’s hard to see how, considering that the toll will be higher than many of the drivers make in the first place. These are the rates (in Canadian cents per kilometer) that Cintra charges in Canada, bottom half of this web page:

(4) If you think that is high, another experiment with a private monopoly being allowed to charge whatever it wanted was done in California. In that case, 2 toll lanes (each way, 10 miles long) were added to the totally packed SH-91 freeway, east of Los Angeles. The toll lane operator actually prevented the state from doing a badly-needed upgrade of a nearby state-owned highway section (using its monopoly clause). It got so ugly, that Orange County had to buy the toll lanes, just to be able to do the upgrade. By the way, those lanes now charge 70 cents per mile, for cars, at peak drive times.
(read the LA Times article, just over halfway down – ignore the rest of the page, it’s a left-wing site)

(5) The contract between Texas and Cintra is being negotiated and signed in SECRET. Here in Texas, Governor Perry is signing away the future of Texans (see next item), without anyone even getting to see the deal. Most governors don’t have this level of power, and the ones that do would NEVER use it this recklessly.

(6) It has been virtually promised to Cintra that they will be able to prevent ANY upgrades to STATE-OWNED highways, anywhere near their toll road. This is classic MONOPOLISTC protection, which means that the free market has been jettisoned – and replaced by a very scary collaboration of big business and big government. Market forces are not simply not possible with surface transportation, due to right-of-away issues – the question really becomes whether private companies should be able to prevent the state from doing what it needs to do on state-owned highways. Most people in this country can easily see the disaster up ahead, except supporters of Governor Perry. Note this quote from Ric Williamson, head of the Texas Transportation Commission: “…we fully expect that there will be limitations on our ability, at some point in the future, to compete with the road…” The road being Cintra’s. There certainly will be monopolistic provisions. You can find the quote buried in this transcript.

(7) The combined state and federal gas tax in Texas is about 2 cents per mile (or 40 cents per gallon, for a car getting 20 miles per gallon). For ONE extra cent per mile (or 20 cents per gallon), Texas could easily build the FREEWAYS that it needs.

(8) State-built toll roads can work, providing that politicians are honest about how they spend the money. The State of Kentucky built a large network of toll roads, but put all of the excess toll revenue back into paying off the roads. The result: the roads got paid off much earlier than expected, and now 80% of them are freeways, and the rest charge about 2 CENTS PER MILE. However, this is the exception. In Houston, once they had a surplus, they diverted it. First to buying a toll bridge that was nearly in default (and bailing it out), then by using the money to plan new toll roads, and finally by simply diverting the money completely out of the toll road system (when they were sure no one was looking). For a state with as much corruption as Texas (just look at this SECRET deal with Cintra), toll roads are simply another way for politicians and the well-connected (like Cintra) to rob the people.

(9) Do toll roads increase property values and encourage development. NO, if you look at how people in the real world reacted when told that their freeway would now be a toll road. It’s real easy for the Libertarians at think tanks like Cato, Heritage, and Reason to publish white papers that essentially state that toll roads are equivalent to the second coming of Ronald Reagan. But the real world is outside of Think Tanks. The following article describes how a group of property owners (developers in this case) rescinded their offer to DONATE land to the state of Texas when they were told that their planned freeway (the Grand Parkway, a large loop around Houston) would instead be a toll road. While the Think Tanks may be have been telling them that they would become rich, their own decision to now force the state to condemn and BUY their land shows the real price of toll roads. (the article that follows is a bit tough to follow, but it confirms what did happen)

(10) Toll Roads are inherently inefficient. They require their own complicated system for identifying and tracking vehicles, and sometimes drivers. This adds greatly to the cost of tolls. Whereas the gas tax is already in place, thus there is no extra charge to collect more money. For example, if $10 needs to be collected using a new tolling system, then $15 in tolls must be collected, with the other $5 paying for the toll collection system. With the gas tax, if $10 is needed, simply increase the gas tax so that it collects another $10. Real easy.

(11) Toll Roads are unfair. You force people to pay HUGE amounts of money to drive on certain roads, while giving a free pass on other roads (and when you do the math, you realize that 20 cents per mile, for an average car, is like paying an EXTRA $4.00 per gallon for gas). Considering that the goal should be get people ON to limited access highways, rather than PUNISHING them for doing so, one can only conclude that toll roads, as they exist today, are totally counterproductive. In fact, to be really fair, the limited access roads should be free, and the surface streets should be tolled – that way you encourage people to stop clogging up local streets and traffic lights. But we are tolled where it is convenient, not where it makes sense.

(12) Big Brother. Look for yourself, not a word about protection of privacy when you travel the Harris County toll roads or use their transponders. On the other hand, they don’t mind collecting your phone number, driver’s license number, social security number, and either bank account or credit card number (so they can pull the money out automatically). What can they do with the information. Well if you use a transponder, it’s likely that some little guy at headquarters can pull-up the information real-time and figure out when you and your wife are both 20 miles away from home (i.e., your house is empty), and call up one of their “friends”. Just an example. It used to be that privacy protection mattered to Republicans and Libertarians, I guess not with toll roads. Go through this site and their transponder application - see if there’s anything about protecting your privacy.

(13) CONCLUSION - Tolls are NOT needed. They are a very inefficient way to collect huge amounts of money from the WRONG people. The gas tax has worked fine, it simply has no way to index itself for inflation. In Texas at least (and probably other growing states), an increase in the gas tax is necessary to build the roads necessary to keep traffic moving. Unfortunately, this governor will not do that, instead he is mortgaging away the future of Texas to a private company with no interest other than making us all look like idiots (as they did in Canada).

(14) HISTORY OF PRIVATELT FINANCED TOLL ROADS IN NORTH AMERICA - North America has a checkered experience with private toll roads. The Dullas Greenway, in Northern Virginia, was built privately. The Orange County Toll Road system was built publicly, but used private-sector financing, with no assurance to investors that the government would back up their investments. Both quickly failed, with the promised explosion of development not happening soon enough, if at all. Why is this important? Because future investors see these results and DEMAND lower risks and higher profits. Cintra has learned from this and is able to make a killing in North America. The problem is that its being done on the backs of drivers – it is virtually a zero-sum game.

(15) CINTRA IS VERY SHREWED – Canada learned this lesson the hard way in January. They thought that they had some control over toll rates, but the courts read the contract, and it was clear that Cintra could charge whatever they wanted, and that will hold for the next 95 years!. Are the skills of Governor Perry and his staff up to this level? Probably not. Consider that they announced the agreement with Cintra before it was finalized. This has to be about the dumbest thing you can do. Now Perry has to accept whatever Cintra offers, or otherwise walk away and look like a total fool. On this particular corridor, Texans are about to get screwed big-time, it’s unavoidable.

(16) INCENTIVES – Monopolies operate according to a different set of incentives than regular private business. Since they already have an assured market share, their goal is to maximize profits (which is fine until you read the next sentence). Consider this hypothetical situation with Cintra: Their toll road is wildly successful and starting to get crowded, so they hold a board meeting and Mr. Cintra is given two options: Option 1 - add an extra lane, Option 2 – increase tolls dramatically. This is a real easy decision – just increase tolls. That way you don’t have to pay a dime for new construction, and you get rid of the congestion. The fact that you’re choking off commerce in the state doesn’t matter – after all you’re Cintra, and all that matters is the bottom line. On the other hand, state owned highways have to answer to the taxpayers – which is about the best check you can have on this unrestrained power.

(17) THE HIDDEN MONEY – This is using approximate numbers, but the Canadians learned the hard way (something that Texans are about to do also), that the value of highway, in many cases, can be much more than the sum of its parts. In the Canadian example, the Province of Ontario built a toll road for about $1.5 Billion (highway 407, near Toronto). They then sold this road to Cintra for $3.0 Billion, and were bragging about the $1.5 Billion profit that they made. And it is true, they were able to sell that highway for much more than it cost to build. But then Cintra sold off a 25% interest of the highway, for $1.5 Billion (sorry about the repetitive numbers, but I’m trying to get as close as possible), meaning the TRUE VALUE of the highway was closer to $6.0 Billion. Where did all of this extra value come from? It came from the government, using its powers of EMINENT DOMAIN, to create a much more valuable use of the land. In essence the land value increased many times over, once a uninterrupted path was created between Point A and Point B. The question then becomes: Who should benefit from this much more valuable land. In the case of a freeway, the drivers benefit. In the case of a government-run toll road, the government benefits (and just MAY give some of that back by reducing other taxes – but in any case, the money stays in Texas). In the case of a private toll road, like Cintra plans, the money is simply taken from the state to never be seen again. (and people wonder why I oppose this so strongly)
16 posted on 02/27/2005 7:33:31 PM PST by BobL
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To: BobL; anymouse

I thought ya'll were arguing that these landowners weren't going to get fair compensation, and how unfair it was that a private company might profit off that land while the landholder wouldn't get any of that profit. So now that it turns out the landowners will have the option of sharing in the profit, you're bitching about it?

Nice try at playing both sides of the argument.

17 posted on 02/27/2005 10:15:03 PM PST by Diddle E. Squat
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To: BobL
"They will have the right to operate the tolls for 50 years," Black said of Cintra, which is working with a San Antonio company. "The tolls cannot be set without state approval. ... This first section is going to be built with no taxpayers' funds."

A direct quote from the Governor's office, from this thread's article. Now that you've been alerted to it, please stop spreading the lie that Cintra will charge whatever it wants, without the state having to approve it.

But then your post 16 contains several lies that have already been refuted in replies to you on other threads, yet you continue to post them.

18 posted on 02/27/2005 10:20:52 PM PST by Diddle E. Squat
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To: Diddle E. Squat


I'm saying that they are lying about paying land owners
"royalties" in order to trick them into going along with this boondoggle. If you believe that they will see a dime of this, then I've got a bridge over the Hudson River to sell you. :)

You so blindingly support this boondoggle that it leads a rational person to wonder if you have a vested interest in TTC going forward in it's current form? Most people find the more they learn about TTC, the more they don't like it.

If TTC was so great, why would they keep changing the sales pitch with transparently bogus claims of benefits to the people that they are selling it to?

19 posted on 02/27/2005 10:45:50 PM PST by anymouse
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To: TxDOT; 1066AD; 185JHP; Abcdefg; Alamo-Girl; antivenom; anymouse; B-Chan; barkeep; basil; ...

Trans-Texas Corridor PING!

Please let me know if you want on or off this list.

20 posted on 02/28/2005 3:10:24 AM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Deport 'em all; let fox sort 'em out!)
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