Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Perry Announces $10 Billion bid to construct first segment of "Trans-Texas Corridor"

Officials debate route of new highway

July 23, 2002

Patrick Driscoll, Staff Writer
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2002

Local officials are trying to decide how close a new superhighway should skirt east and south of San Antonio, and discussions Monday turned to concerns about urban sprawl.

The 10-lane highway is part of Gov. Rick Perry's Trans Texas Corridor - a 4,000-mile network of toll roads, railroads and utility lines that would crisscross the state. The $183.5 billion project, funded by government-backed debt and tolls, would take 50 years to build.

Perry recently announced a $10 billion bid to construct the first segment from east of Dallas to south of San Antonio, essentially extending the planned Texas 130 tollway between Georgetown and Seguin. The addition would run south to Interstate 35 near Pearsall.

But it wouldn't run close enough to San Antonio - not even into Bexar County - to encourage Southeast Side development and provide a convenient link to KellyUSA, some board members of the Metropolitan Planning Organization said on Monday.

Tom Griebel, director of the San Antonio Mobility Coalition, suggested the board request that the three Trans Texas Corridor routes encircling the city be realigned to be closer, including having the leg from Seguin go near Loop 1604 and then head north of Pearsall.

The purpose of the corridors is to keep cross-country traffic out of city cores, but they shouldn't be so far away that it would be difficult for trucks, cars and trains to get in and out of those cities, Griebel said.

"That's the challenge we have," he said.

But planning board member Emil Moncivais, who is San Antonio's planning director, said he is worried that the corridors could promote sprawling development in rural areas, adding longer commutes and eventually causing more traffic congestion.

"My concern is that all of a sudden we're suburbanizing the state," he said. "We're just going to spread out of the towns that we have."

Board member John Kelly, who heads the San Antonio office of the Texas Department of Transportation, said the corridors are supposed to be remote and have limited access to other roads so that conditions aren't very suitable for urban sprawl.

"The idea is to try to discourage that," he said.

Griebel said he will get input from South Side groups concerning the corridor alignment from Seguin to I-35.

One idea is that because I-35 south of here is underused, it could actually be part of the corridor . Also, a section of Southeast Loop 1604 could possibly be developed as a portion of it.


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