Tuesday, November 13, 2007

TTC-69 DEIS anouncement hypes "unprecedented public involvement opportunities"

Texas I-69 report recommends using existing highways

November 13, 2007

From Staff Reports
The Shreveport Times
Copyrith 2007

AUSTIN — Existing highways will be considered first as state transportation officials continue work to identify an alignment for the Interstate 69/Trans-Texas Corridor, an effort that will include unprecedented public involvement opportunities during the next several months, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

TxDOT, in coordination with the Federal Highway Administration, today released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed TTC project, saying it will make transportation safer, faster, more reliable and provide for faster hurricane evacuation.

I-69 would enter Texas from near Logansport in DeSoto Parish.

The 1,072-page report is the result of nearly three years of work with local officials and input from citizens through hundreds of public meetings. It looked at a wide, 650-mile-long study area stretching from far south Texas to extreme northeast Texas.

“Gov. Rick Perry’s commitment to improve mobility across the state and his long-term vision to prepare for tomorrow’s transportation challenges have brought us to this point,” said Ted Houghton, member of the Texas Transportation Commission.

The report recommends additional detailed examination and public comment on a narrower study area to see where I-69/TTC can be located while minimizing environmental impacts. The recommended study area is approximately one-half to four-miles wide.

As a result of public comment to date, the report recommends continued environmental studies on I-69/TTC focused on using existing highways first with new corridors as a secondary option.

“We are doing what the public asked us to do and that is look at existing highways first,” said Amadeo Saenz, TxDOT executive director. “If improvements to existing highways and infrastructure cannot be made to handle long range transportation needs — or if citizens and local officials tell us they prefer a new corridor — other options will be considered. Decisions will be made based on public input and detailed studies of environmental and social impacts.”

As an example, Saenz pointed to public comments urging a better, more direct connection between the Port of Corpus Christi and the inland port of Laredo.

“That is a possibility that deserves additional study and public input, so it is included in the refined study area,” Saenz said. “The Trans-Texas Corridor will connect the state’s metro and urban areas without cutting through the hearts of our cities. We will work with local officials to consider how existing highways will be used to connect urban areas to the corridor.”

The report also looked at future transportation needs along the corridor where 12.1 million people are expected to live by 2040. Activity at Texas ports is growing rapidly which will mean more trucks along the corridor, according to the report.

“Failure to prepare for future transportation demand will greatly increase the cost and difficulty of meeting these needs in the future,” said Saenz. “We must plan now to solve today’s problems and meet tomorrow’s challenges.”

Today’s announcement kicks off what TxDOT officials call an unprecedented public involvement and public comment period.

The report is available on two TxDOT web sites: www.keeptexasmoving.com andwww.txdot.gov.

It is also being sent to many public libraries along the entire study area where it will be available for citizens to review. It will be available at TxDOT offices in the study area. Citizens may also call the I-69/TTC project office for information. The toll free number is (866) 554-6989.

In January, TxDOT will hold 10 town hall meetings along the corridor. The scheduling of town hall meetings is a direct result of public comment that citizens want more opportunity to ask questions and get answers about the Trans-Texas Corridor.

In February, TxDOT will begin the formal public hearings on the environmental study. Forty-six public hearings will be held throughout the study area with the focus strictly on the DEIS document. The format for these hearings is designed to gather public comments solely on the document.

In addition, the Texas Transportation Commission is planning to set up regional advisory committees to provide guidance on how the project can be developed to best serve local communities.

“Local officials will be more involved than ever before and the public will shape the outcome of TTC-69,” said Houghton. “We cannot solve the transportation challenges facing Texas without public awareness and public involvement.”

© 2007 The Shreveport Times: www.shreveporttimes.com

LINK: View a PDF of TxDOT's TTC-69 study area.

View TTC-69 Draft Environmental impact Statement (DEIS) HERE

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE