Friday, February 02, 2007

"TXDoT is finding that sailing the Corridor Seas is not as smooth as it once was, with few remaining friendly ports of call. "


Another revolution is now brewing at the local and grass-roots level in Texas.

February 2, 2007

Don Garrett
Citizens for a Better Waller County (CBWC)
Copyright 2007

Truth is universal--even in Texas when it comes to public transportation.

The truth is beginning to rise to the surface from the sea of rhetoric that has been created by Governor Rick Perry and TXDoT Commissioner Rick Williamson regarding toll roads and foreign investment. TXDoT is finding that sailing the Corridor Seas is not as smooth as it once was, with few remaining friendly ports of call.

Initially, the truth was relative to them as our own state elected officials were asleep at the wheel and did not study the alternatives that lay at their feet. It was a one sided argument from the “get-go”: Perry and Williamson were right and the citizens were wrong.

In 2002, Gov. Perry gave an ultimatum to TXDoT to come up with a comprehensive plan to relieve our cities congestion, despite the fact that in 1999 TXDoT had already put together a thorough transportation plan. Within 6 months of Gov. Perry’s mandate, a plan was orchestrated which included spending over $184 billion dollars, paving over 8,000 miles of toll roads and seizing over a million acres of private Texas land, without so much as a feasibility study. Nor were there any detailed financial models showing a best case/worst case scenario.

What Texans did get was a tall tale about congestion relief with all the bells, whistles, and accolades that seem to follow pork barrel legislation. And when citizens became concerned and questions were asked, there was a general lack of response.

Texans are still awaiting those answers. Meanwhile, the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) proponents threw luncheons and dinner parties for the Alliance for I-69 Texas organization where they preached to the choir and patted each other on the back as if to say, “Let them eat cake”. That attitude started a revolution once and it appears that another revolution is now brewing at the local and grass-roots level in Texas.

Congratulations Governor. 39% of the popular vote indicates you do not have the carte blanche you once had. Your actions on the Trans-Texas Corridors have polarized the State Republican Party and have given rise to a new Independent Party. Our State senators, representatives, county judges, county commissioners, and other local elected officials are now listening to their constituents specifically about the issues of tolls and the potential abuse of eminent domain powers.

It’s ironic that the private citizens now know more about toll roads, foreign consortiums such as Cintra Concessiones de Infraestruturas de transporte, AKA, Cintra and Macquarie Infrastructure Group, AKA MIG, and the abuses that follow the CDA’s (comprehensive development agreements) than many of our elected officials. The citizens owe much gratitude to grass roots organizations throughout the state such as the San Antonio Toll Party,, Backlands Coalition, Texas Toll Party, Austin Toll Party, and Independent Texans for bringing these issues out in the public. Something Governor Perry and Rick Williamson had hoped would not happen.

We now anxiously await TXDoT’s release of the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement which is a Phase I Environmental Study) for the I-69 portion of the Trans-Texas Corridor. This will narrow the path to a 4 mile wide area of focus where the quarter mile wide corridor may eventually lay within the borders of Waller County. It is now time to organize our thoughts and plans for action.

However, many questions must still be answered: Will our elected officials hold steadfast in the 80th legislature and truly represent their constituents or crater to the power structure wheeled by Speaker Tom Craddick, Gov. Perry, and the TTC pork barrel opportunists in Austin?

Most importantly, will we, the citizens, hold to the truth and keep to the facts to give our elected officials the tools they need to chip away at the plans for a quarter mile wide boondoggle, to be built and operated by a foreign company, the scope of which has never been seen anywhere? Texans have a real chance to bring this legislature back to the people, but that means being an active part in this legislature.

It is imperative that you contact your representatives and let them know your personal thoughts on the TTC. Give them the facts that they need as you can bet that they will be hearing only one side of the story from the Governor’s office. And tell them you will be there to spread the word about their agenda.

We need to maintain pressure and stay informed so that we can impact impending legislation. Contact organizations like Citizens for a Better Waller County for more information. Thirty-nine percent of the popular vote - we must show Gov. Perry that there’s not too much to celebrate from that….

Note: Don Garrett is the acting president for the Citizens for a Better Waller County (CBWC). Citizens for a better Waller County is a grassroots, non-partisan organization that exists to “promote the protection and wise use of Waller County’s natural and rural resources to ensure the healthy quality of life for all residents”.

© 2007 Citizens for a Better Waller County:

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