Thursday, June 14, 2007

"Statements from Perry’s office make it seem like business as usual."

Transportation Bill Puts Brakes On TTC?


The Hillsboro REporter
Copyright 2007

Governor Rick Perry recently signed Senate Bill 792, the main transportation bill of the just-ended session of the 80th Texas Legislature.

The legislation contains a mora-torium on private toll-road contracts for at least the next two years, but that “freeze” contains many exceptions and likely will not stop most of the projects that were on the books.

It does, however, also give local toll-road agencies, such as the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority in Austin and the North Texas Tollway Authority in Dallas, first shot at building toll roads in their respective areas.

People across the state hoped that the moratorium would put the brakes on the governor’s Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC), but statements from Perry’s office make it seem like business as usual.

When asked about the moratorium in SB 792, Robert Black, a spokesman for Perry, said that there isn’t one to a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News. “Of any kind, that we can tell,” Black told Patrick Driscoll.

Contracts signed in 2005 with Cintra-Zachary allow the company to draw up a development plan for the TTC segment that will parallel Interstate 35.

Separate contracts would spin off of the plan to build individual segments of the corridor.

Since concessions for the project have already been signed and construction could not begin for at least two years, because environmental impact studies have not been completed, the corridor project has nothing standing in its way as far as the governor’s office is concerned.

Perry had vetoed an earlier version of the bill, carried as House Bill 1892, that he felt would effectively end all such contracts with private companies and put the brakes on his pet project, the TTC.

His staff participated in final talks that resulted in SB 792.

“I am proud to sign this legislation because it will help Texas build the roads we need to manage our state’s tremendous population growth,” Perry said. “Under this legislation, every planned road-construction project will move forward as scheduled, local leaders will have more authority to build new toll roads and all toll revenue will be used for transportation projects in the area it was raised.”

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