Skip to comments.TxDOT listens to people about toll road
Posted on 06/18/2008 5:15:43 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
A retreat from the Texas Department of Transportation's plan to build a new multi-lane toll road through East Texas is a clear victory for Angelina County and Diboll, local officials said last week.
"I'm glad they went back to the original plan," Diboll Mayor Bill Brown said. Instead of a new Trans-Texas Corridor toll road paralleling U.S. 59, Tx- DOT now plans to widen 59 with a new bypass around Diboll and Lufkin.
The planned 59 bypass, needed to avoid the signalized intersections in Diboll and Lufkin, provides in the original plan four exits for Diboll. That will be good for economic growth for the town, he said.
Any construction is 10 to 12 years away, Brown cautioned, but added, "I think it'll be good for Diboll."
State Rep. Jim McReynolds is every bit as happy.
The original plan, which has been in the works for nearly 20
years, was for U.S. 59 to become part of Interstate 69, a route from the Mexican to the Canadian borders. It has lately become known as the "NAFTA Highway," but plans for the route predate the adoption of the North American Free Trade Agreement - NAFTA - in 1994 by several years.
The Interstate 69 plans were grafted onto plans for the Trans-Texas Corridor, the brainchild of Gov. Rick Perry, which calls for seven northsouth toll roads to be built across the state. The roads, under Perry's plan, were to be built by private sector firms, who would recoup their investments through tolls.
A consortium of the Spanish construction firm Cintra and H.B. Zachary Co. of San Antonio has received the only contract issued under the plan, for the new Texas 130 in the Austin area. Zachary is building the U.S. 59 expansion project now under way in south Lufkin.
McReynolds said incorporating the I-69 plan into the TTC was not something that went before the Legislature. TxDOT "totally changed and put (I-69) in the TTC," he said.
TxDOT held a series of public hearings earlier this year on the TTC-I-69 plan and generated almost complete opposition to the plan.
McReynolds said he attended all four of the hearings in his district, which included one in Diboll. "I did not hear one person at one of my hearings speak in favor of it," he said. Of a total of 28,000 "letters and testimonials" sent to Tx- DOT about the proposal, he said he had seen "two or three" that were positive.
The consistent, overwhelming objection to the corridor was that, at a minimum of eight lanes and an overall width in some places of nearly a quarter mile, the highway simply would pave over too much land - private property, often held by one family for generations. Family graveyards, historic sites, fondly remembered swimming holes all were in the path of the project.
McReynolds indicated that TxDOT never took the steps it needed to do to build support among the public and in the Legislature.
McReynolds said members of the caucus saw contracts between the state and Cintas-Zachary that showed that the tolls imposed on the new Texas 130 would never go away. That rubbed the Legislature the wrong way. The feeling among lawmakers was that tolls should end once the contractors got their money back, as happened with the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike, once a toll road but now a free part of the interstate highway system.
"This was just a big stir to us," he said of the members of the Legislature's Rural Caucus, of which he is vice chair. The Legislature set up a committee "to look into all this. That's kind of currently going on."
That perpetual-toll revelation came on top of lawmakers learning that TxDOT had doublecounted $1.1 billion - "How do you do that?" McReynolds asked - and had hired lobbyists to work on the Legislature, which is against the law. TxDOT was looking at an extremely uncomfortable legislative session beginning next January.
"I'm extremely pleased that TxDOT has decided to back off," McReynolds said.
The 12-year state representative stressed that local TxDOT employees had no say in the TTC plans. "This was never their decision. This came out of the commission."
Whatever the agency's reasons, Mayor Brown summed it up. "It's a good move. They listened to the people."
Trans-Texas Corridor PING!
The People have spoken.
The other day, I had a Kansas radio station playing--and those people up there are also unhappy with this huge "NAFTA" highway boondoogle. Not one caller had anything positive to say about it.
they should have done this 5 years ago.
byw, ben lurkin is a shill for gov perry and his cronies.
The rest goes to people who didn't earn the money and bureaucratic BS which makes life more difficult.
I'm against *this* road because the gov't is taking land which doesn't belong to it. Stealing with legislative permission is still stealing.
Yes. The east Texas corridor is only part of the plan.
There was almost total opposition to the I-35 TTC plan during public hearings, too. Those hearings were nothing but a formality, TXDOT’s minds already made up. Protests all along the route were ignored.
Is it time for insurrection yet?
“Is it time for insurrection yet?”
That has been bantered about but, there’s a real serious mood out there and in here. The folks who stand to be most effected by TTC-35 might be the most angry.
Basil, Kansas huh? Guess they know it’s coming their way. People in OK have already chosen opt out.
I am one of those most effected by TTC-35.
TXDOT’s stated objective is to relieve congestion, reduce pollution, and make travel safe.
Yet they cave in to DFW business pressure and continue to force everyone trying to travel north-south to pass through DFW.
The answer isn’t a mega-highway slicing through the heart of Texas to bring more traffic into and around the metroplex.
The answer is to improve other routes and divert traffic away from DFW.
It’s wrong to force virtually all north-south traffic into one bottleneck at DFW.
Why not widen roads to let traffic out of Austin/San Antonio go into Oklahoma and points north through Wichita Falls? Same for Houston to Paris to Tulsa/Kansas City.
TTC-35 is deeply personal for me, but it’s boneheaded for the state.
I for one who have been fighting TXDOT since Deadman was the man in the late 80’s am calling “BS” on the headline.
TXDOT recognizes they only get $ for roads for funding.
TXDOT will not walk away from this concept, but rather leave on the table, just waiting until the local Chamber of Commerce's feel the pinch of the down turn and will sell their souls for “Economic Development.”
That is their history. Stay ready to fight on.
Stop right there!
IMO, that's all you had to say.
The more highways we build, the more people that will come, the more we will become a stepping stone for China, the more the whole state becomes like California or Pennsylvania, the more we become Mexico, the more we become less Texan.