Thursday, May 10, 2007

TFB President Kenneth Dierschke: "The amount of land that will eventually be taken for this project is staggering."

Farm organizations voice opposition to TTC


The Waller County News-Citizen
Copyright 2007

WALLER COUNTY - The Waller County Farm Bureau is applauding efforts in the Texas Legislature to kill the Trans Texas Corridor, the mammoth highway project slated for parts of Texas that would take huge tracts of Texas farm and ranch land.

"We are encouraged that many legislators have concluded that the TTC is a bad idea," said David Groschke, president of the Waller County Farm Bureau.

"We believe the cost of the project is too high and the sacrifice will fall mainly on rural Texas."

Various bills introduced this year in the Legislature would either kill the TTC outright or place a moratorium on funding it.

"Either way, we are for those bills," Groschke said. "The TTC is too big, too expensive and hits rural Texas very hard. We've been worried that not enough thought has been given to the Corridor and a moratorium would allow everyone to take a careful look at it."

As proposed, the TransTexas Corridor is a massive highway project to be built in several phases. The first is already under construction east of Interstate 35 and another phase of the TTC would cut through Waller County.

The Texas Farm Bureau, headquartered in Waco, is also urging the governor to support a TTC funding moratorium.

Governor Rick Perry should sign a bill that would establish a two-year moratorium on the controversial Trans Texas Corridor (TTC), according to the board of directors of the state's largest farm organization.

A letter requesting the governor's approval of House Bill 1892, signed by the 14 members of the Texas Farm Bureau board, including TFB President Kenneth Dierschke, urges a moratorium on the use of private equity comprehensive development agreements, including the TTC. The letter was delivered to Governor Perry last week.

It said in part, "We believe the moratorium envisioned in HB 1892 will give all Texans the opportunity to evaluate future transportation needs and determine if the corridor concept can be modified to reduce its impact on farm and ranch land."

The bill by Rep. Wayne Smith of Baytown prevents outside entities from buying the rights to build and operate toll roads in Texas and keep the resulting revenues.

Following approval of the letter, Dierschke said, "We remain opposed to the Trans Texas Corridor, but the moratorium will give all of us the chance to take a hard look at the issue. The amount of land that will eventually be taken for this project is staggering."

Some estimates place the amount of land needed for the TTC at more than half a million acres, including some of the best farmland in the state.

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