Saturday, March 26, 2005

Citizens Advisory Committee: "People willing to sit around and compose recommendations that may or may not be heeded."

Corridor committee a hot draw

Ben Wear
Austin American-Statesman
Copyright 2005

Here's the first bit of advice that the Trans -Texas Corridor Citizens Advisory Committee will probably give: We need a bigger conference room.

That board, according to the preliminary rules adopted by the Texas Transportation Commission, can have up to 24 members. Big, in other words. No way they'll come up with that many people willing to sit around and compose recommendations that may or may not be heeded, or even heard, right?

Wrong. Exactly 251 Texans put their names forward by the March 14 deadline. Guess people care when politicians start talking about building 4,000 miles of toll roads and railroads across the state. The commission has an item on its agenda Thursday to name the lucky two dozen (or perhaps fewer), but it reportedly has not made its selections and will defer a vote.

Those interested include about 50 Central Texans, including two dozen from Austin, and a surprising number of elected officials, such as county commissioners and city council members from Georgetown, Dallas, Lufkin and Plano.

No Austin or Travis County officeholders though. Guess they're waiting for something really important to come up.

Copyright (c) 2005 Austin American-Statesman:


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

How the TTC is Different

What makes the development of the Trans-Texas Corridor different from the National Interstate Highway System?


David K. Stall, ICMA-CM
Copyright 2005

(1) There is no clearly defined transportation need (e.g. site specific traffic study, etc.) for the Trans-Texas Corridor. In fact there are no specific routes or capacity specifications identified. The need for the Interstate Highway system was well defined and thoroughly understood. Elimination of grade crossings (intersections) was among the chief safety advantage of the Interstate Highway.

(2) There was no public discussion/debate prior to adoption of the Trans-Texas Corridor plan. The Trans-Texas Corridor was proposed by the Governor who tasked TxDOT with quickly drafting a plan. A plan which was approved and adopted by the Transportation Commission with a single meeting and without public input. In contrast the Interstate System was debated for years before the project was approved. During that time the Interstate System turn from toll roads to freeways and the routes evolved from avoiding large cities to running through them.

(3) In the past highway projects were driven by transportation needs; today the Trans-Texas Corridor & toll roads are driven by a need for revenue. That's a significant shift of public policy that has occurred without any substantive public input, discussion or debate.

(4) Secrecy. A stunning lack of governmental transparency in the bidding and contracting process. Another drastic shift of public policy that has occurred without any substantive public input, discussion or debate. Rationalized by the promise of innovation and other theoretical and unproven benefits, we have sacrificed open government and created a new and horrific potential opportunity for abuse.

(5) Profiteering. The Trans-Texas Corridor introduces state-sponsored monopolies for public infrastructure that includes transportation, utilities and economic development. The state’s private partners are motivated by profit above public service. The state will extend protections to ensure their private partner’s profits, and to ensure state revenues, sacrificing the just regard for adverse impact to the citizens of the state.

(6) Attack on the free enterprise system. Unlike our Interstate Highways, the Trans-Texas Corridor is a closed access facility that will not present the adjacent land owners with the same commercial development opportunities. Those opportunities are reserved for the state and their private partners. The state state-sponsored monopoly of economic development, and the redirection of traffic induced revenues, will directly compete with existing and future free enterprise. The state’s private partner will use the power of the state to gain an unfair competitive advantage.

These are but a few of the significant differences between today’s Trans-Texas Corridor and the national Interstate Highway System.

© 2006