"Citizens have a right to know."
June 5, 2005
By RAD SALLEE
The Texas Attorney General's Office agrees with the Chronicle that citizens have a right to know how a private development group plans to build and finance a toll road from Dallas to San Antonio.
On March 11, the Texas Department of Transportation and the consortium Cintra-Zachry signed a comprehensive development agreement for TTC-35, the first leg of the Trans-Texas Corridor. Eventually, the route could extend from Oklahoma to Mexico and include rail, utilities and other facilities.
The pact was signed with a good bit of fanfare, and — except for two key parts — it was made public. (See it at www.keeptexasmoving.org.) But TxDOT withheld the financial and development plans, saying they contained proprietary information.
Officials said releasing these details could harm Cintra-Zachry competitively and discourage companies who might seek to develop other legs of the corridor, such as TTC/I-69, proposed to run from Texarkana to Mexico past Houston.
The attorney general's opinion says TxDOT failed to show how revealing the plans would cause harm. It also says that because the agreement has been signed, the deal being negotiated is no longer protected by law from disclosure.
TxDOT and Cintra-Zachry may sue to overturn the ruling. Both are reviewing the ruling but have not decided what action to take, spokespersons said.
© 2005 Houston Chronicle: