Friday, August 31, 2007

Death Watch

Obituary: The Trans-Texas corridor

August 31, 2007

Roy Bragg
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2007

The Trans-Texas Corridor, a plan so flimsy and badly conceived that it attained the believability of an urban legend, died of its own greed and hubris Thursday.

Death came quietly to the ballyhooed plan — which had proposed spending billions of tax dollars to convert existing, state-built highways to toll roads and augment them with unnecessary superhighways — with the revelation that highway officials just wanted more money.

The stated goal of the TTC was to handle imaginary gridlock 50 years in the future. The case for the TTC, however, was argued with faulty data, questionable reports, inexplicable anecdotes, and diversionary arguments.

Death not reported immediately

The boondoggle actually died in December, when the Texas Department of Transportation came up with a cockamamie plan to buy back existing federal interstate highways and turn them into toll roads. The move would require Congress' approval, and the agency was lobbying for it.

News of the plan didn't surface until recently.

The December plan didn't call for new roads. Rather, it unmasked the real goals of the TTC — squeeze money out of a citizenry whose lives revolve around highway travel. Drivers, in other words, were a captive audience. Tolls don't require voter or legislative approval, and are essentially taxes without oversight.

TTC's timely death comes after the controversy over the $9 million "Keep Texas Moving" advertising campaign. Polly Ross Hughes wrote about it today on MySA:

"It's less than 50 cents a Texan," Transportation Department spokesman Chris Lippincott said in defense of the ad campaign. "We could sit down and buy them a cup of coffee for that kind of money."

As of this writing, Lippincott hasn't bought coffee for me or anyone I know.

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