Skip to comments.Governor, officials cheer toll road offer
Posted on 08/31/2006 5:42:55 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Flanked by Dallas County and state officials, Gov. Rick Perry led a bipartisan pep rally Wednesday for the $7 billion Trans-Texas Corridor, his sprawling transportation project that has drawn criticism from several quarters.
Perry announced that the private sector has offered to build the southern sector of Loop 9 as a toll road. The proposed outer loop around the Dallas metropolitan area has been under study for decades and could eventually tie in with the corridor project.
Cintra-Zachry, a U.S.-Spanish consortium proposing to build the first segments of the corridor, has notified the Texas Department of Transportation that the company is willing to pay for construction. The news prompted handshakes between local governmental officials who said they have been pushing the project for years.
"For too long the lion's share of economic development and infrastructure has been focused on North Dallas to the exclusion of the needs and potential of South Dallas," Perry said. "But this southern loop has the potential to relieve congestion, improve air quality, increase highway safety and provide safer routes for hazardous cargo."
Perry, a Republican, proposed the Trans-Texas Corridor in 2002, envisioning a combined toll road and rail system that would whisk traffic from the Oklahoma line to Mexico. The exact route for the corridor has not yet been drawn up, though it will probably be somewhere within a 10-mile-wide swath running parallel to Interstate 35.
Opposition includes those who see it as an attack on private property rights, since many landowners will lose property to the state. Others object to the state accepting a proposal from Cintra-Zachry to build and operate it, including some who see the project as an affront to open government because part of a development contract is secret.
(Excerpt) Read more at dallasnews.com ...
Aug. 31, 2006
By JOE DOOLEY
Apparently it doesn't matter how Texans feel about the Trans-Texas Corridor. The decision to build has been made by the powers that be.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) held dozens public meetings during the summer in areas that would be affected by the corridor. Most of the people who showed up at the meetings were against it.
Among the public's complaints were the corridor's multibillion-dollar price tag, the several decades it would take to construct and the government's use of eminent domain to acquire the necessary land for the project.
But that's not stopping TxDOT from constructing an incognito corridor east of Austin and calling it state highway 130.
In June, Cintra-Zachry reached an agreement with the state to construct the southern tract of highway 130, a 90-mile road that will connect Georgetown to Seguin.
The highway reportedly was going to end south of Austin at the junction with State Highway 183 because of underfunding, but Cintra-Zachry put up the $1.3 billion to complete the highway. In exchange for financing, constructing and maintaining the highway, Cintra-Zachry will collect a share of tolls for 50 years.
The Trans-Texas Corridor also would be a toll road. Its proposed path runs directly over highway 130. Furthermore, Cintra-Zachry is the same partnership that is developing the Trans-Texas Corridor.
Coincidence? I think not.
The Trans-Texas Corridor would be part of a superhighway stretching from Mexico through the United States to Canada to facilitate the mass transportation of goods between the three countries.
Truck traffic on Interstate 35 has increased dramatically since the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect in the mid-1990s. Congestion, particularly around Austin, is forcing TxDOT officials to think of an alternative north-south route to ease the burden off I-35.
"We're planning for the next 20 to 50 years," says Gabby Garcia, spokeswoman for the Texas Turnpike Authority Division, which is responsible for planning the corridor. "I-35 is not going to be sufficient to handle the demands of the next generation."
A noble objective, undoubtedly, but here's the rub: According to TxDOT, 47 residences and 18 commercial businesses will be displaced to make way for the Cintra-Zachry portion of highway 130 alone. That's just a 38-mile stretch of highway. How many more homes and businesses would be displaced by the corridor's remaining 400 miles?
Garcia says the impact would not be as severe as some think. TxDOT is looking to incorporate existing roads and railroads to minimize the amount of right-of-way, or expropriated land, the corridor requires.
To the state's credit, it recognizes there is a transportation problem in Texas. However, our resources would be more efficiently applied to upgrading Texas's existing infrastructure.
Instead of usurping thousands of acres from private owners and investing billions of dollars in a superhighway, why not expand I-35 and construct a loop around Austin? The government would not have to acquire as much land and not as many homes and businesses would have to relocate.
That said, highway 130 is a good start, but it should only be used as an alternative route around Austin, not as the future Trans-Texas Corridor.
Trans-Texas Corridor PING!
I almost forgot: many thanks to Ben Ficklin, who referred me to the top article.
This is another step closer to locating a Port of Houston inland port/staging area in South Dallas.
Now there's an interesting pair of folks to link yourself to. I wouldn't let either one in my house.
Whoopee, Hoorah...... another toll road and another who knows how many years of road construction mess......yippee! As much as I love Texas, I think I'll leave it for all the assholes who screwed it up.
Thanks for the ping!
What would happen if you built a super highway and no one came to drive on it?
You'd know it was a high-priced toll road?