Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"Corridor idea has become the subject of hot statewide debate."

Trans-Texas Corridor's proposed route to be unveiled

Wed, Feb. 22, 2006

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Copyright 2006

Texans should know the proposed route of the Trans-Texas Corridor toll road from the Metroplex to San Antonio in three to six weeks, state officials said Wednesday.

An environmental study that began two years ago was supposed to be unveiled to the public last month, but it hit a roadblock after state and federal officials realized some of the documentation was incomplete, said Michael Behrens, executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation.

The 4,000-page study will show the path of the proposed high-speed road within a 10-mile study area. That’s narrow enough for cities between Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio to determine whether the route will benefit them economically, and for property owners to know whether their land may be taken.

But before the study can be released, state officials must provide more information about potential “secondary” impacts of the proposed road on economic development, water, air quality and other issues, said Amadeo Saenz, Texas Department of Transportation assistant executive director for engineering operations.

“If we build a road and there is economic development, will the economic development have an impact on the environment? Will it require more utilities? You’ve got to address what impact it might have,” Saenz said Wednesday.

Once the plan is made public, copies will be available at, and at transportation department district offices and libraries statewide.

More than 50 public hearings will be held beginning this May in cities along the corridor route.

The agency hopes to submit a final environmental impact statement to the Federal Highway Administration by the end of the year, potentially clearing the way for construction to begin in 2007.

A team led by Madrid-based Cintra and San Antonio-based Zachry Construction has been selected to oversee the construction of the privately funded toll road, which is expected to cost $6 billion.

The Trans-Texas Corridor is Gov. Rick Perry’s plan to build 4,000 miles of toll roads, high-speed rail lines and utilities criss-crossing the state.

But the idea has become a subject of hot statewide debate, and many Texans say they disagree with the concept of paying for roads with tolls. On Thursday, a debate between pro- and anti-toll road forces from San Antonio is scheduled during the monthly Texas Transportation Commission meeting in Austin.

Gordon Dickson, (817) 685-3816

© 2006 Fort Worth Star-Telegram: