Monday, April 10, 2006

First part of TTC-69 would be built near cities

Port of Houston included in plans for new corridor

The statewide network's 2nd leg would run from North Texas to the Mexican border

April 10, 2006

Houston Chronicle
Copyright 2006

Texas highway officials said Monday they are seeking proposals to build a leg of the Trans-Texas Corridor from North Texas to Mexico, with connections to the Port of Houston.

The route, designated I-69/TTC would be the second segment in what Gov. Rick Perry proposes as a statewide network of corridors, each up to 1,200 feet wide in places, with separate toll lanes for trucks and cars, tracks for freight and passenger rail and space for pipelines and power cables.

Contract for first corridor

In March 2005 Cintra-Zachry, a consortium led by construction firms in Spain and San Antonio, contracted with the Texas Department of Transportation to build the first corridor parallel to Interstate 35 through Central Texas, passing near Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Laredo.

Harris County Judge Robert Eckels said the main corridor of I-69/TTC would pass west of the eight-county metro area so that through trucks would not aggravate ozone levels.

He said the port and corridor could be linked by spurs from Fort Bend and Brazoria counties to the west and from Liberty and Chambers counties to the east.

Steve Simmons, deputy executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation, laid out a best-case timetable Monday at the Houston TranStar traffic control center.

"By late July or August we may have a short list of proposers," Simmons said. "Possibly by late October or November we will publish the actual detailed proposal we want them to move forward with. Around February 2007, we'll expect those proposers to come up with their concepts.

"Then we'll evaluate them again, and in late 2007 we'll actually select somebody to move forward with developing them, just as we did with TTC-35. It's a long process, but we have to take this first step now," Simmons said.

Built in pieces

Eckels said both of the corridors are likely to be developed in pieces, starting near cities and other high-traffic areas.

Texas Transportation Commissioner Johnny Johnson of Houston said local governments, toll road authorities and regional mobility authorities could submit proposals for I-69/TTC, along with private firms.

© 2006 Houston Chronicle: