Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"We are 100 percent opposed to this. We think there are other alternatives."

County, city officials voice opposition to TTC


The Sealy News
Copyright 2007

The Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) has officials in Austin County and Sealy wondering what it will mean for this area and considering appointing someone or a committee to oversee and keep track of its implications as a full-time commitment.

A key task of that position would be serving as an advocate for the city and county. Officials from both the city and county expressed opposition to the current TTC plan at a meeting Dec. 11. Rather than just voicing their opposition to the plan, though, Sealy Mayor Russell Koym suggested listing specific reasons why they are opposed to it.

"The thing we have to do is No. 1, we don't like it, but this is why; we have to list our objections to it," he said. "If we don't like it, we need to tell them why."

City councilman Steve Wilson urged officials to remember to advocate for what the city and county need, such as an improved drainage system, and not just to focus on implications of the TTC.

"We need to ask for everything we think we might get out of this," he said.

The TTC could bring a toll road to the area, and if it does, both Texas Sen. Glenn Hegar and Texas Rep. Lois Kolkhorst think the project should be funded by Texans.

"Both Sen. Hegar and Rep. Kolkhorst are adamant it should be funded and tolled by Texas itself," said County Judge Carolyn Bilski.

Doing so would keep funds from the project controlled locally.

"The bigger the pie, the less chance it's going to be Texas-owned," said Commissioner Pct. 1 David Ottmer.

Instead of focusing on toll roads, officials at the meeting also discussed focusing on the railroads as a viable means of transportation of goods across the state.

"Rail is still the most efficient way to move goods," Bilski said.

Supporting the railroads would tie in with the area's strong history of transportation via train.

"If we're talking about really moving goods, we need to find a way to subsidize the railroads and not the TTC," Wilson said.

The group of county and city officials plans on meeting again to discuss the TTC before a public hearing Jan. 28.

"We are 100 percent opposed to this," Wilson said. "We think there are other alternatives."

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