Thursday, February 23, 2006

"The TTC has become a front-burner topic in local political races."

TTC route may be revealed


By Kurt Johnson
Taylor Daily Press
Copyright 2006

The document sought by two Coupland residents and others that would show in greater detail the route of the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) through Central Texas may be released in March, according to a letter received by Buzz and Susan Garry of Coupland.

The Garrys had sought the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and Cintra Zachry, the company which is under contract to build part of the massive toll road proposed by Gov. Rick Perry.

Susan Garry said she recently received a letter from TxDOT indicating that even though Attorney General Greg Abbott had ruled the DEIS couldn't be released, TxDOT is working with the Federal Highway Administration to get approval for release of the document sometime next month.

While the DEIS won't show the exact route proposed for the TTC, it will identify a ten-mile-wide corridor within which the toll road route would likely be located.

Cintra Zachry filed suit in Austin last month to block release of its development and financing plans, which Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has said are not public record. Abbott made his ruling in response to an open records request from the Houston Chronicle.

In addition, TxDOT refused to make public its plans for the project, which includes a $7.2 billion toll road from Dallas to San Antonio and could include massive rail infrastructure through the Taylor and Coupland areas.

One of the issues involving the proposed route of the project through the local area is whether or not it would involve only rail and pipeline infrastructure instead of the full width of the corridor as planned. If SH-130, the new toll road that will go from north of Georgetown to Niederwald is deemed to be the highway portion of the TTC, then that segment through the local area could include rail and pipelines but not necessarily highways.

Nonetheless, Coupland residents and others in the area are concerned that even the rail and pipeline version of the TTC would disrupt local communities.

The TTC has become a front-burner topic in local political races. At a candidate forum held in Taylor on Monday, Republican Barbara Samuelson and Democrat Karen Felthauser, both of whom are running for state representative from District 52, stated their opposition to the TTC. The District 52 incumbent, Rep. Mike Krusee, was at the forum but didn't address the TTC or its local impact.

In addition to the controversy generated by the TTC because of the impact it might have on local communities, toll roads being built in the area have also taken criticism, with opponents saying existing roadways that were built through tax revenues shouldn't be expanded to be toll roads because the practice amounts to double taxation.

Once the DEIS is released by TxDOT, it will provide the first solid indication of how close the proposed TTC route will come to the Taylor and Coupland area.

Copyright © 2006 Taylor Daily Press