8.5 % voter turnout in Texas and Prop 12 is used to tout 'support' for TTC-69
November 14, 2007
By GARY WILLMON
Cox East Texas
Nacodoches Daily Sentinel
Transportation advocacy groups are applauding Tuesday's announcement of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement released by the Texas Department of Transportation on the I-69/Trans-Texas Corridor highway project and agree with TxDOT officials that using existing road rights of way whenever possible in planning the corridor is the best idea.
"Using existing rights of way means highways can potentially be built faster, more cost effectively and with less impact on property owners," said Bill Noble, spokesman for Texans for Safe Reliable Transportation, a statewide transportation group. "By first considering building along existing roadways, TxDOT will provide better mobility and emergency evacuation for south and east Texas."
TxDOT also announced public hearings on the I-69/TTC project are to begin in January 2008.
"Public involvement is essential to the planning and design process," Noble said. "We believe there is strong public support for the TTC-69 in the counties where the highway could be located."
In last week's statewide constitutional amendment elections, a majority of voters in counties along the proposed I-69/TTC route voted in favor of Proposition 12, authorizing up to $5 billion in state general obligation bonds for transportation improvements. Specifically, 39 of the 44 proposed counties where the highway project could be located passed Proposition 12 by greater than 50 percent, according to election data from the Texas Secretary of State's Web site. Only five counties fell below 50 percent.
Angelina County voters passed the proposition with a 66 percent yes vote.
"The population is expected to grow 65 percent within the next 25 years while road usage is projected to increase 214 percent," said Ted Houghton, a member of the Texas Transportation Commission, at Tuesday's TxDOT press conference.
Noble said the radical shift in thinking toward meeting future transportation needs is a much-needed one. "Unless Texans change their approach to transportation, road capacity will grow by only 6 percent," Noble said. "Experts would say that an expanded transportation system for Texas is not optional; it is a necessity."
Texans for Safe Reliable Transportation is a 501(c)6 public education organization made up of Texas citizens, employers and transportation professionals dedicated to easing traffic gridlock and improving infrastructure to move people and products more efficiently. The group's Web site is www.BetterTexasRoads.org.
Also on Tuesday, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) gave his endorsement of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement announcement. Cornyn, a member of the I-69 Caucus, said the transportation project will relieve congestion as well as boost the Texas economy.
"Progress on the impact statement brings us another step closer to Texas drivers being able to travel on this corridor," Cornyn said in Tuesday's statement. "It is encouraging to see the effort move forward, and I'll continue working to improve transportation in Texas."
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