Friday, January 26, 2007

"The Trans-Texas Corridor would destroy rural Texas as we know it."

Lawmaker Files Bill To Kill Trans-Texas Corridor Project

January 26, 2007

KWTX (Waco, Temple, Kileen)
Copyright 2007

A legislator from San Antonio has filed a bill to kill GOP Gov. Rick Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor toll road proposal.

Democratic Representative David Liebowitz says his measure would take away the Texas Department of Transportation's authority to buy land and do contracts for the project.

Liebowitz told WOAI radio that the Trans-Texas Corridor would "destroy rural Texas as we know it."

Perry's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Joe Krier with Texans for Safe Reliable Transportation believes the Liebowitz bill, which was filed Thursday, is a mistake.

Krier says the project will make Texas globally competitive in this century and into the next one.

Perry 2002 proposed the Trans-Texas Corridor in 2002.

The $184 billion plan ultimately calls for a 4,000-mile network of transportation corridors that would crisscross the state with separate highway lanes for passenger vehicles and trucks, passenger rail, freight rain, commuter rail and dedicated utility zones.

Work on the Central Texas portion of the ambitious project could begin within four years, the Texas Department of Transportation said last fall as it released a plan identifying near- mid- and long-term phases of the privately developed toll road.

The plan identifies portions of the corridor from north of Temple to near Hillsboro and from Georgetown to Temple as among the likely near-term phases of the project, on which work could begin by 2010 and could be completed by 2013.

The Temple-to-Hillsboro leg of the corridor would cost an estimated $1.1 billion to design and build. The Georgetown-to-Temple leg would cost about $1 billion to design and build.

Tolls would range from about 15 cents a mile for cars to as much as 48 cents a mile for big trucks, which means the cost of a trip along the full length of the 370-mile toll road could cost from $56 to more than $216.

The Texas Department of Transportation signed a contract in April 2005 with the Cintra-Zachry consortium for planning on the project, the most ambitious highway construction effort since the Eisenhower administration launched the effort to build an interstate highway system.

Designers envision a corridor with six separate passenger vehicle lanes and four commercial truck lanes; two high speed passenger rail lines, two freight rain lines and two commuter rail lines and a utility zone that will accommodate water, electric, natural gas, petroleum, fiber optic and telecommunications lines.

Cintra, which is an international design and development firm, and the San Antonio-based Zachry Construction Corporation, originally agreed to provide more than $7 billion for construction of the first segments of the project, which is now expected to cost nearly $2 billion more to construct.

Cintra originally planned to spend at least $6 billion to build the four-lane toll road on the corridor and planned to pay the state $1.2 billion in return for the exclusive rights to operate the toll road for 50 years.

© 2007 Gray Television Group, Inc.: