Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"The DEIS does not show a specific need for the corridor. It justifies the corridor merely by showing projected population increases in Texas."

Forum part 1 of 2

Corridor not answer for rural Texas

July 25, 2006

By Susan Garry
Taylor Daily Press
Copyright 2006

The Texas Department of Transportation will show Taylor-area residents the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the TTC-35 portion of the Trans-Texas Corridor on Tuesday at Taylor High School. This DEIS shows the Recommended Preferred Corridor Alternative passing west of the Taylor area.

Even though Taylor is not in the Recommended Preferred Corridor Alternative, the edge of the area, called Reasonable Corridor Alternatives, cuts across Taylor. Thus, Taylor-area citizens need to stay informed about the corridor project as it proceeds.

Currently, some officials are saying that the vehicular part of the corridor through Williamson County is SH 130, which is already under construction west of Hutto. State Highway 130 is within the Recommended Preferred Corridor Alternative. However, TxDOT's Randall Dillard was quoted in the Taylor Daily Press as saying, “The corridor would provide outstanding economic development opportunities for Taylor much like SH-130 did for Hutto.”

However, Taylor is not in the Recommended Preferred Corridor Alternative.
Does Mr. Dillard mean that a second major highway will be built between Hutto and Taylor, just a few miles east of SH 130? Does he mean that SH 130 will not be the corridor route through Williamson County and the actual corridor might include Taylor? Does he mean that portions of the corridor other than vehicular - such as pipelines and utility routes or the six-track rail element - would impact Taylor?

If this is the case, Taylor would not realize “outstanding economic development opportunities.” The pipeline/utility corridor segment would negatively impact Taylor by removing much land from the tax rolls with no economic development. The same can be said for the six-track rail element, which would bypass Taylor, removing land from tax rolls with no economic benefit.

The recent study commissioned by Williamson County commissioners concluded that the Taylor area could not support a rail hub or depot.

The corridor plan calls for thousands of miles of a one-fourth-mile-wide corridor criss-crossing the entire state. The negative impacts of such a monstrosity are too many to be enumerated here, but they include environmental, economic and social problems for towns and rural communities all over Texas.

The DEIS does not show a specific need for the corridor. It justifies the corridor merely by showing projected population increases in Texas. It does not use specific transportation projections for the problem areas in the state and does not show how the corridor will alleviate the traffic problems, which are in and around major metropolitan areas.

Even though it seems that Taylor may not be harmed by the corridor right now, I encourage residents to attend the Tuesday hearing and to make comments about impacts on the entire state of Texas.

A period to look at displays and ask questions begins at 5 p.m. The formal presentation begins at 6:30 p.m. You may make oral comments during the hearing or submit written comments, which must be received by TxDOT by Aug. 21. Comment forms should be available at the hearing.

We can all see that congestion in some urban areas of the state needs to be alleviated by new or improved transportation projects, but carving up the state with a massive corridor is not the answer to localized problems.

© 2006 Taylor Daily Press: www.taylordailypress

TxDOT continues with TTC-35 plans