Wednesday, August 03, 2005

TxDOT uses "Domino Theory" as rationale to sell Corridor

Hundreds curious about Trans Texas corridor

By: Claudia Richter
The Spring Observer Copyrught 2005

Several hundred curious Katy area residents stopped by the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy Thursday evening to attend a presentation by the Texas Department of Transportation on the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor, which may run within miles of the city limits.

The public meeting was one of 37 that will be held across the state between July 18 and Aug. 18 to inform citizens about the progress of the project.

The proposed 4,000-mile long multi-lane highway and rail system, which would also be known as Interstate 69, would run from East Texas to the Mexican border. The corridor, which estimates say may cost as much as $180 billion, has raised concerns from both property owners and environmental groups concerned about its effects. TxDOT officials were on hand Thursday night to answer questions and hear concerns of local residents.

"We're trying to explain the steps we have to go through based on need and plan to phase (the corridors) in through time," said Doug Bohoor, environmental manager of TxDOT's Texas Turnpike Authority Division.

TxDOT officials said the corridor, which would be part of a national road system stretching from the Canadian to the Mexican border, would "sustain and enhance economic vitality."

"If people can't get their products to market on time, it has a domino effect on small towns all across the state," TxDOT said in a nine-minute video presentation.

Bohoor said many questions about the corridor were asked.

"Our most popular question we get from the public is whether there are any plans for a designated truck lane," he said.

During the meeting TxDOT explained the reasoning behind the need for the corridor and said there would be a two-tiered environmental study to limit the changes made by the new highway.

The maps for the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor have the road entering Texas from both Arkansas and Louisiana and have two possible routes, with one heading directly into Houston while the other swings to the west. The western route would cut through Walker, Grimes and Waller Counties before passing just west of Katy.

Groundbreaking for the project has yet to occur and the entire corridor may remain on the drawing board due to financial difficulties. Officials said that current funding mechanisms "are not working" due to a loss of revenue from gas taxes and other problems.

A groundbreaking date cannot be set until the environmental studies, which are mandated by the federal government, are complete.

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