Saturday, July 21, 2007

Is Cintra-Zachry a nonprofit consortium? 'SH 130 Concession Co.' claims Cintra-Zachry's lease agreement "will expire when it recoups its investment."

Smoothing out SH 130 bumps

July 21, 2007

By Anita Miller
San Marcos Daily Record
Copyright 2007

A little more than a month after getting the final environmental OK, a company hired to finesse right-of-way acquisition for SH 130 has notified the owners of approximately 300 parcels of land in Caldwell and Guadalupe counties that the roadway will impact at least part of their property.

Two representatives of the SH 130 Concession Company LLC, in a meeting on Friday, also appeared to dispute a simmering myth that the roadway, which will cross Hwy. 80 near Staples, is being designed as part of the still-looming Trans-Texas Corridor.

“We are developing this as a stand-alone project,” said Jessica Schenk of SH 130 Concession. “If they wanted to make this the Trans-Texas Corridor they would have to redo the process” of preliminary surveys and environmental assessments that preceded the beginning of right-of-way acquisition.

For one thing, SH 130’s 560-foot width would have to be expanded to the 1,200 swath the TTC is expected to take through mainly productive farmlands. For another, the SH 130 design does not include rail or utility components, something Gov. Rick Perry has said would be integral to the TTC.

SH 130 is a 91-mile tollroad that would have non-tolled access roads along parts of its path. It is divided into six portions. The northern sections are already open, and Segments 5 and 6, which impact the two counties, are the last to be built.

Actual construction is set to begin in 2009, with the roadway being open for traffic in 2012. Tolls for the two lower sections have not yet been determined; however, the plans specify that there will be no toll plazas on the two sections, meaning motorists will have to have the electronic TX Tag to be able to use the toll lanes.

According to Dennis Sedlachek of the SH 130 Concession, the process of gaining right of entry and entering into eminent domain negotiations with affected property owners could take some time. “Some property owners had sold the land or had moved or had a tenant living there, or changed their mailing address or phone number.”

And some formerly large tracts have been subdivided since preliminary assessments were done. “For example, what was one big tract a year ago is now maybe eight.” Since preliminary assessments began, Sedlachek said that “developers and others” have invested in land along the route for “economic opportunities in the future.”

While some property owners are opposing their inclusion in the route and have vowed a legal fight, others “say ‘Great! I’ve been waiting for this to happen,’” Sedlachek said.

Along with the misconception that most or all landowners are against the project, Sedlachek said many don’t understand that the project will not be owned by a foreign company. Though the Spanish company Cintra, in conjunction with San Antonio-based Zachary Construction will build and maintain the roadway, it’s lease agreement will expire when it recoups its investment.

The state of Texas will hold the title, he said.

Sedlachek said that the appraisers the company used are highly trained and familiar with the area. Those with additional questions can also visit; call the toll-free hotline at (866) 345-9187; or visit O.R. Colan Associates at its office at 1001 West San Antonio Street, Lockhart, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays.

The role of SH 130 Concession is “to bring the product to market faster than traditional tax-funded transportation projects,” Sedlachek said.

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