Wednesday, May 04, 2005

"We are going to dump the representatives who failed to represent us."

Put brakes on transportation corridor, protesters say

Landowners, others do not want state to build toll road network


Gardner Selby
Austin American-Statesman
Copyright 2005

More than 200 people rallied Tuesday outside the Capitol to oppose tollways that Gov. Rick Perry and others say will relieve traffic congestion, starting with an alternative to Interstate 35 from south of San Antonio to north of Dallas that some fear would cut through their property.

Crowd members, wearing yellow shirts emblazoned with "Stop Trans -Texas Corridor ," cheered Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn and legislators including Sen. Ken Armbrister, D-Victoria, and Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, who said, "They're trying to take our property rights away from us."

Sal Costello of the Austin Toll Party, which opposes making existing highways toll roads, invoked the Boston Tea Party, saying: "It is time we throw the snakes in our building out into the harbor. . . . We are going to dump the representatives who failed to represent us."

John Ricke of Bastrop, hollering, "Remember the Alamo," said he sees the corridor plan as a state "land grab."

"What would you do if you owned land?" asked Eddie Barta, a Fayette County rancher. "Would you give it to them?"

Perry spokesman Robert Black called rally attendees "good salt-of-the-earth folks who may have, frankly, some bad information."

He said critics of toll roads have an obligation to come forward with alternative solutions.

Protesters called for the passage of House Bill 3363, filed by Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, which would impose a moratorium on the Trans -Texas Corridor plan. The bill has not been heard by the House Transportation Committee.

Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Williamson County, the panel's chairman, noted that moratorium language was rejected 90-51 in House debate on the state budget.

Krusee said rally organizers failed to get foes to a morning hearing on transportation issues, adding: "Leaders want their picture in the paper. They're not interested in results."; 445-3644

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