Thursday, May 26, 2005

"This legislation, HB 3588, gave far-reaching powers to the state for this land grab."

Commissioners hear from opponents of Trans Texas Corridor

May 26, 2005

The Gonzales Inquirer
Copyright 2005

Gonzales County Commissioners Court has been asked to pass a resolution opposing the Trans Texas Corridor.

Dianne Raef, accompanied by Mickie Wallace and Dane Sullivan, on Monday, May 23, addressed the commissioners court with information opposing the Trans Texas Corridor.

Raef said that in 2002 Gov. Rick Perry announced his corridor vision and instructed TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) to prepare an action plan to build the Trans-Texas Corridor. Within six months TxDOT had completed the plan and presented it to the Transportation Commission. "Without any substantive discussion or debate and without public comment the commission approved the plan as presented on June 27, 2002. This legislation, HB 3588, gave far-reaching powers to the state for this 'land grab'," Raef said.

The corridor proposal is for 10 lanes of vehicular traffic, 6 lanes of rail, and a utility corridor for natural gas, water, electrical and cable lines. The TTC is designed to be 1,200 feet wide with limited access ramps.

"That would consume nearly 600,000 acres of Texas farm and ranch land, impacting 74 counties and dividing many pastures. Water rights as well as mineral rights would be lost. The land would be seized through eminent domain with owners given 90 days to evacuate their property," Raef said.

This land would then be leased to a company in Spain, Centra, to build and set the tolls for 50 years. $60,000 was spent to send state representatives to Spain and France to solicit these bids. Another $3 million was spent to contract with Centra for a proposal to be completed by December 2005. "Texas has at least 3 companies listed in the 'Fortune 500' businesses. Why do we need to go to Europe for U.S. building contractors?" Raef asked. "The 4-year-old Laredo toll road has been a disaster and truckers do not use it because of the added expense. Why would they use the TTC?"

Her questions to the commissioners court were: "How did this happen? Is this legal? How will this impact our small towns? How will this impact our pocketbooks and land?"

She showed a map of the proposed TTC and said that more than 30 counties in Texas have signed resolutions opposing TTC.

"Countless letters, petitions, signs and rallies have begun asking to stop or at least 'slow down' the decisions until local citizens in Texas can be made aware of the far-reaching impact this proposed corridor will have on our land," Raef said. "We want transparent decisions. I am requesting that Gonzales join these other counties in passing a resolution to oppose the TTC."

Raef said there were many facts and figures in this proposal and she hoped that she had shared them all accurately. She further encouraged County Judge David Bird and the commissioners to read to keep abreast of the changes and amendments to the original HB 3588, which gave the governor this overwhelming power to act without voters' consent.

"'Taxation without representation' is what began the 'Boston Tea Party,' and now I am in favor of an 'Austin Toll Party' if we are not given adequate representation," Raef said.

She encouraged Gonzales County residents to contact the governor's office (800-252-9600) as well as Sen. Ken Armbrister (512-463-0118) and Rep. Edmund Kuempel (512-463-0602) to express opposition.

The next meeting of Gonzales County Commissioners Court is scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday, June 13.

"Interested citizens are invited to attend as it is an open meeting," Raef said, adding that comments or questions can be made to individual county commissioners or the county judge's office at 672-2327 or Dianne Raef at 361-865-2154.

Copyright © 2006 The Gonzales Inquirer