Saturday, March 24, 2007

Texas Farm Bureau: "Our members are overwhelmingly opposed to the Trans-Texas Corridor.”

Farm Bureau Describes TTC Project As A Disaster For Farms And Ranches

March 23, 2007

KTWX CBS (Waco-Temple-Kileen)
Copyright 2007

The massive Trans-Texas Corridor project is a disaster for farms and ranches that lie in its proposed path, the Waco-based Texas Farm Bureau says.

The Farm Bureau has been steadfast in its opposition to the project and says its encouraged by efforts in Austin to derail or at least delay the $184 billion plan, which 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.

“Our members are overwhelmingly opposed to the Trans Texas Corridor,” says TFB President Kenneth Dierschke, a grain and cotton farmer from San Angelo.

“There’s never been any doubt that the impact on agriculture would be negative, but now we see a growing number of people who believe the TTC would be bad for all of Texas.”

Several bills are pending in Austin aimed at putting the brakes on the project, at least temporarily.

State Representative Lois W. Kolkhorst of Brenham has filed a bill that would kill the project altogether and a second measure that calls for a two-year moratorium on allowing private entities from buying the rights to build and operate toll roads.

State Senator John Carona of Dallas says he thinks most of the ambitious project will never be built, except for major projects along the Interstate 35 corridor.

“Pieces of the Corridor will be built over the years ahead,” Carona said.

“They are the pieces that would have been built anyway, such as State Highway 130 in Austin, but not four football fields across.”

Work on the Central Texas portion of the 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.

Designers ultimately 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.

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