Skip to comments.Strayhorn hopes toll road leads to victory
Posted on 07/13/2006 3:43:43 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
DENTON - "Grandma" lost her argument for a contrived ballot nickname.
But Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn of Austin might have found a plank on which to build a campaign against Gov. Rick Perry.
It's a plank 600 miles long and a quarter-mile wide. It's a giant, privately owned, multilane tollway that would part the Texas countryside the way the governor parts his ample hair.
Strayhorn, a Republican running as an independent candidate, has criticized the Trans-Texas Corridor tollway plan loudly for months. So have the other principal challengers in this traffic jam of a race, novelist Kinky Friedman of Medina and Democrat Chris Bell, a Houston lawyer.
But when uneasy Texans filed into a new round of public hearings this week, Strayhorn was first up to speak at a Denton meeting.
When she shouted that she wants to "stop Governor Perry from shoving toll roads down Texans' throats," the crowd in a University of North Texas ballroom broke into applause.
She isn't finished. Strayhorn will bring her tollway tough-talk to Hillsboro tonight for a hearing in the Hill College auditorium.
She had 800 Cooke County residents standing on their chairs and cheering last month when she spoke at an anti-tollway rally in Woodbine, where trucks from Laredo, Mexico and Pacific Ocean ports would cross a quarter-mile-wide swath of horse pastures.
Rural Texans fearing a 10-lane tollway are now connecting with a fringe anti-immigration crowd that fears a superhighway from Mexico. The cross-pollination of criticism can only hurt Perry, an incumbent easily leading the polls although 62 percent of Texas voters favor one of his three major opponents.
The Woodbine rally "was a happening," Strayhorn said after her speech. "This is a major issue that is going to decide the vote in at least 30 counties. Rural Texas has been concerned all along, and now North Texas is catching on."
The route is opposed by local leaders because it loosely follows Interstate 35E to the east of Dallas, an hour's drive from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport or Fort Worth.
Strayhorn drew the distinction that she does not oppose an international highway or trade.
"I'm opposing toll roads," she said. "I am adamantly opposed to this governor's boondoggle."
In the crowd, Shirley Spellerberg of Corinth, a former state Republican committeewoman, sat waiting to speak.
"I don't like anything about this," said Spellerberg, mayor of Corinth for 16 years and a lobbying force for the religious-conservative Texas Eagle Forum.
"It's going to open the flow of truck traffic bringing illegal aliens, drugs, terrorists -- who knows what? It's a horrible idea," she said. "Plus, these poor people will lose their land to this monstrosity."
Spellerberg pointed out that Texas Republicans passed a platform plank last month opposing the condemnation of land for use by a private business. Madrid-based Cintra is investing $6 billion in the project along with partner Zachry Construction of San Antonio.
The Republican platform calls for canceling the project.
Perry supports the corridor "because President Bush wants it," Spellerberg guessed. "I think it started out at the top. Perry's just doing what he's been told."
Strayhorn sidestepped the issue of border security. But she criticized Perry for agreeing to let Cintra negotiate in secret.
The state highway agency is the Texas Department of Transportation, she told the audience -- "not the European Department of Transportation."
Denton County Commissioner Sandy Jacobs of The Colony came to support the tollway. Jacobs, a 24-year commissioner, is not only a reliable leader in Denton County's long-standing Interstate 35 expansion effort, she is a board member of a suddenly controversial Dallas lobbying organization, North America's SuperCorridor Coalition (NASCO).
Her e-mail has been busy lately. On a June 21 show, CNN entertainment host Lou Dobbs moved into the black-helicopter zone when he asked suspiciously whether a U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade agreement signed last year might mean the "end of the United States as we know it." The show depicted a borderless map from NASCO's Web site that draws a "supercorridor" from Mexico City to Canada, including the Texas tollway.
"All we're looking for is a trade corridor," Jacobs said in an interview before Tuesday's forum. "If we can help a Wal-Mart truck cross the border faster and go safely from Mexico to Minneapolis in less time, then we've helped the economy."
A new highway is needed no matter what happens with security along the Mexico border, she said: "Free trade is going to continue as long as we're part of the global economy."
When Strayhorn finished speaking, Jacobs' turn was next.
She challenged the comptroller-candidate head-on: "Carole Strayhorn, I totally disagree!"
Jacobs continued: "Not once up here, Carole Strayhorn, did you say anything but 'No! No! No!' ... Mrs. Strayhorn, tonight you filled the air with political rhetoric, not answers!"
When Jacobs sat down, Strayhorn rushed up.
"I only had three minutes!" she protested.
I get the feeling we'll hear a lot more in this campaign.
IN THE KNOW
Trans-Texas Corridor hearings
The Texas Transportation Department has organized 54 programs statewide to provide information about the huge project and to collect public comment. At each program, maps will be displayed and staff will be available to answer questions starting at 5 p.m. Public comment begins at 6:30 p.m.
Weatherford College, Alkek Fine Arts Center, 225 College Park Drive.
Hillsboro, Hill College Performing Arts Center auditorium, 112 Lamar Drive.
Fort Worth, Round-Up Inn in the Amon G. Carter Jr. Exhibits Hall, 3400 Burnett-Tandy Drive in the Will Rogers Memorial Center.
Granbury, Granbury school district's Pearl Street Conference Center, 205 E. Pearl St.
By Amie Streater
July 12, 2006
FORT WORTH - City Council members officially gave a thumbs down Tuesday to a planned route for the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor that would run east of Dallas.
Without public discussion, council members unanimously approved a resolution opposing the Texas Department of Transportation's plans to bypass Tarrant County with the planned corridor, saying such action would hurt jobs and economic growth in Fort Worth and throughout the county.
Instead, the council supports a proposal by the Regional Transportation Council and the North Central Texas Council of Governments that would locate the corridor along Texas 360, eventually creating an outer loop around the Metroplex.
By JONATHAN BLUNDELL
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Just in time, or maybe way too soon depending on which side you take the Ellis County commissioners adopted a resolution Monday morning to recommend an alternative study be done on the Highway 360 corridor for the Trans-Texas Corridor.
The TTC is being billed as a multi-use transportation alternative to the heavily congested Interstate 35 and will connect Laredo with the Texas-Oklahoma border. A 10-mile swath between Waxahachie and Ennis is being considered for the final location of the roadway through Ellis County.
The departments report, released in April, shows a narrowed study area, 10 miles wide, mainly parallel to Interstate 35 and shows 12 different possibilities for the alignment of the highway. Seven of those dozen plans show the statewide corridor splitting Ellis County.
The final corridor will be about 1,200 feet wide.
The TTC Tier 1 plan narrowed their plan down to a 10-mile stretch from Milford to east of Ferris, county planner Clyde Melick said. What were saying with this resolution is wed like TxDOT to look at an alternative alignment - and thats the 360 corridor.
Melick said the alternative avoids bisecting the county and doesnt disturb the Blackland Prairie.
We also think moving the corridor to the west will benefit the air quality in the region, Melick said.
The resolution recommends the state look at using Highway 360 corridor as well as the Loop 9 corridor for construction of the TTC.
The Loop 9 corridor was planned originally in 1956 to loop around the metroplex, south of Interstate 20.
The loop is planned to run along the border of Dallas and Ellis counties.
There are already plans to bring 360 south and a plan is in place for Loop 9, Melick said. Rather than locate the TTC where its currently being planned and there are no roads planned we think the state should look at putting the TTC where roads are currently being planned. This is just a preference.
CountyJudge Chad Adams expressed concern over rushing into passing a resolution without a full knowledge of how Ellis County residents and cities felt about the plan.
Even at these public hearings were going in and we dont have all the answers, Melick said. But this resolution will go in as our public comment.
Commissioner Ron Brown, Pct. 4, said the Highway 360 alignment would save $1.9 billion to the state.
I think there are a lot of questions still out there and I feel concerned about making the resolution, Adams said.
Melick said the resolution would hopefully get TxDOT and the TTC coalition to study the 360 corridor and give everyone more options and answers.
Its better if we call their hand now and ask them to study 360 now so well have more options, Melick said. Theyll be a lot more likely to study it now than later down the road.
Commissioner Heath Sims, Pct. 3, said he favored encouraging the TTC coalition to look at the 360 corridor.
Just looking at what Ive been informed about, the map they show cuts our county in half, Sims said. We dont know where the exits or entrances will be but I feel like if they can cut back 60 miles of roadway and save $1.9 billion, building on the 360 corridor and circling the Metroplex would be a better deal. And a resolution is nothing more than that. I personally think it does no harm to do a resolution now but it might do harm to do it later.
Adams took issue with Sims comment about splitting the county in half.
That argument doesnt make sense because we have Highway 287 cutting the county in half from east to west, Adams said.
Thats true, but you also have exits every quarter mile, Sims said. Were talking about a major 1,200-foot roadway with very few exits and trucks and trains carrying who knows what. I move to adopt this resolution.
Adams asked for more discussion between the commissioners before the resolution was passed.
I feel there hasnt been enough communication with the cities, Adams said. I want the commissioners to be sure theyre comfortable with their vote.
This is a pretty general resolution, Brown said. This is just asking them to look at this alternative.
After the motion was seconded, the commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of the resolution.
Robinson and Adams voted against the resolution with Adams adding hed prefer to take up the resolution later.
The vote was one of Adams first votes cast as county judge that wasnt to settle a tie among the commissioners.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Is an 85-mph speed limit too high for part of the Texas 130 toll road being built southeast of Austin? Highway safety advocates think so, and they have common sense on their side.
If Texas allows cars and trucks to go 85 mph on the southern section of Texas 130, that would be the highest speed limit in the country. It would mean more money for the state treasury, but more danger for drivers negotiating the toll road between Seguin and Mustang Ridge.
Although the state Legislature approved speeds of up to 85 mph on roads within the Trans Texas Corridor, it would be up to the Texas Transportation Commission to approve the speed limit. Commission members should seriously study the deleterious effects of higher speeds before setting a limit as high as 85 mph.
Raising the speed limit from the restrictive 55 mph established in the 1970s to 65 and 70 mph has not resulted in the carnage that some safety advocates predicted in the 1990s. But hiking the top speed to 85 is unknown territory, and potentially quite dangerous.
A speed limit is only an approximation for many drivers on major highways. They routinely assume that the "real" speed limit the point at which they may get a ticket is higher, so they drive 5 to 10 mph above the posted limit.
If the southern portion of Texas 130, which is expected to be included in the Trans Texas Corridor, is posted for 85 mph, drivers will be flying along it at 90 and 95 mph or higher. At those speeds, there is no such thing as safe driving, only dangerous driving.
Thankfully, the upper reaches of the legal limit will not be allowed on the section of Texas 130 nearest Austin, which can expect heavier traffic loads. That portion of the highway was built to different standards and the top legal speed will be 70 mph. Parts of that section of the highway are scheduled to open in December.
The Texas Department of Transportation raised the speed limit on some rural interstate stretches in West Texas to 80 mph in May. That action has drawn criticism from safety advocates who argue that Texas is abdicating its role of ensuring safety on the highways.
Cintra-Zachary, the international conglomerate building the southern segment of Texas 130, will give the state more money for setting higher speed limits. Isn't that encouraging the state to abandon safety for revenue? Highway officials must be concerned about selling lives for money.
The National Highway Safety Administration reports that speed is a factor in 31 percent of traffic fatalities in this country. Speed shortens reaction time, lengthens stopping distances and increases the force of impact.
If 85 to 95 mph isn't too fast for safe driving, what is?
For other TTC-related articles:
Trans-Texas Corridor PING!
I though Kinky Friedman was a marginal country singer, and now I find out that he is a novelist. Look for Don Imus to start hawking his books since they seem to be connected at the hip.
Hrmm...Kinky Friedman is a country singer, primarily, not a novellist.
A strange, twisted country singer, but one nonetheless. ;)
He was far from marginal. He was just...strange. He was a major influence on tons of major musicians.
And, come on, you aren't exactly mainstream with a name like "Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys" (most of whom, ironically, were not Jewish :D)
His songs were generally biting satire. Like "Get Your Biscuits in the Over, and Your Buns in the Bed" (directed at feminists), "The Ballad of Charles Whitman" (aimed at those who try to explain psychos), "G-d Bless John Wayne", Sold American and a few others are all awesome. "L.A. Men's Room" is also good.
Strayhorn, a Republican running as an independent candidate,
This road may turn my Cooke Co. farm into a warehouse and I still won't vote for this fool.
What's this woman smoking? Ok, so I have a truckload of illegals and I determine my best route is to drive them past a few toll booths and the inevitable patrol car parked nearby. Yep, uh huh, that's brilliant - not! Egads, Kinky is looking better every day.
That's why they have elections.... to each his own. I will vote for the fool if'n you are referring to Perry as the fool.
I'm voting Perry. There is no other choice.
"What a sad, sad Wannabe Hero."
Just this past weekend I drove through Saluda, Virginia on the way to a fishing outing on the lower Chesapeake Bay. As you know, Chesty grew up in Saluda, and he is also a hero of mine.
I'm voting Perry. There is no other choice.
No matter what way you cut it "strayhorn keeton rylander mclellan grandma whateverhernameisthisweek" is a bomb throwing loon.
Kinky is at least entertaining. Hell, he'd at least be fun to watch
Bell is a DUmmie
Perry is Perry, not the best, not the worst.
Out of the choices, might as well go for the entertaining one
False, the state of Texas will own it, leasing out construction, operating, and maintanence rights.
In the crowd, Shirley Spellerberg of Corinth, a former state Republican committeewoman, sat waiting to speak. "I don't like anything about this," said Spellerberg, mayor of Corinth for 16 years and a lobbying force for the religious-conservative Texas Eagle Forum. "It's going to open the flow of truck traffic bringing illegal aliens, drugs, terrorists -- who knows what? It's a horrible idea," she said.
Corinth has long been a notorious speed trap between Dallas and Denton that depends heavily on ticket revenue, and has a bad reputation for questionable practices regarding such.
I drove thru Corinth a few times, I do not want to say it is a speed trap, but there are some namy radars set up on the road there your coffee starts to boil as you pass thru.
She called in to the Jeff Ward show during drive time yesterday afternoon and here's what I got out of it: She's Grandma and not that good-fer-nothin', no-account, do-nuthin', cotton-pickin', no-class Rick Perry.
If 85 to 95 mph isn't too fast for safe driving, what is?
It's not too fast in W. Texas. I wish you could go faster so We could knock a little time off our Big Bend trips.
Shoulda had the libertarian guy back on again. At least he stayed on topic and didn't try and take over Jeff's show. Kinky interviewd pretty good too, even if I didn't agree with some of the stuff he said.