Tuesday, September 13, 2005

TxDOT working with local politicians to build tolled freight corridor in San Patricio County.

Garrett seeks support of toll roads

Freight corridor to tie area to Laredo, Mexico

September 13, 2005

By Jaime Powell
Corpus Christie Caller-Times
Copyright 2005

Mayor Henry Garrett addressed the San Patricio County Rural Rail Transportation District Monday seeking a resolution in support of the construction of a high-speed, tolled freight corridor from the port's proposed La Quinta Trade Gateway Container Terminal in San Patricio County to the inland port at Laredo.

"The corridor would mean dramatic increases in import and export opportunities, with commensurate economic development along the corridor and throughout all of South Texas," according to resolutions from the Corpus Christi and Laredo chambers of commerce.

Port of Corpus Christi and Corpus Christi Metropolitan Planning Organization chairman Ruben Bonilla said in an interview the corridor is needed to increase the area's edge as an international commercial hub.

"Various freight corridors need to be improved, others widened and yet others built," he said. "This route would provide Corpus Christi and the port with seamless transportation routes to corridors of trade throughout Mexico and Latin America."

Some members of the transportation district's nine-member board said they supported the project but needed more information to vote in favor of a resolution.

Erich Schneider, member of the district and chairman of the San Patricio Economic Development Corporation, said he wanted to know more about the project but if it benefits San Patricio County he's probably for it.

"What we want is access to Laredo and Mexico," he said. "If San Patricio County gets plugged in all the way to La Quinta it would be good but it's very preliminary so we don't know much so far."

District members have not set a date for the vote.

Meanwhile, local politicians are working to locate private investors to build the road, which Texas Department of Transportation officials estimate would cost $300 million to $350 million, in exchange for reaping the tolls. And, the transportation department is studying an exclusive truck facility, with two lanes in each direction that would allow for a higher speed limit, perhaps 80 miles per hour or more, and greater weight and capacity limits.

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