Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"It appears that the public has yet to be totally convinced. We're not convinced , either."

Editorial: Texas Corridor

January 16, 2008

Nacodoches Daily Sentinel
Copyright 2008

The building of the Trans-Texas Corridor, according to Gov. Rick Perry's Web site, promises a bright future — cleaner air, better safety and faster commutes.

Not only that, as a toll road, it can be built faster, cheaper and better.

If there are facts to back up those promises, they weren't readily available. Although the Web site offers what it calls a "fact sheet" on the project, it's not a listing of facts and statistics. It's a list of responses to criticism, or as the Web site puts it "Realities" that refute "Contentions."

It's likely that some of those contentions will be brought up during a series of town hall meetings, the one for our area to be held in Lufkin tomorrow night.

Although the governor's office and TxDOT assert that building a $200 billion dollar toll road is key to meeting our future transportation needs, it appears that the public has yet to be totally convinced.

We're not convinced, either.

Our plan for the future should go beyond building bigger highways for more vehicles. With $100 a barrel oil, we should be planning for alternative modes of traffic — high speed trains, for example. Although the corridor also includes a rail component, if the idea is to encourage rail traffic, why offer the enticement of a super-fast, super-convenient superhighway next to it?

Building a highway that will encourage more truck traffic, more commuting and more gas consumption, just doesn't make sense. Nor can we understand how building a toll road will "significantly reduce air pollution," as the governor's office claims. Better highway, fewer cars, just doesn't make sense.

Future planning should focus on ways to discourage traffic, not to increase it. Offering vehicles the opportunity to drive cross country at speeds of 85 mph sounds like more like an incentive than a deterrent, even if they'll have to pay extra to do it.

It also strikes us as unwise to "combine roads, rail, utilities and energy pipelines into a single corridor." Sounds like a pretty good target for a terrorists — and at a quarter of a mile wide, it's not likely one that could be missed, even from outer space.

Our state needs a plan that takes a real look at what we're going to need 50 years from now. Oil isn't going to last forever, not even at $1,000 a barrel.

That's not just a promise, that's a fact.

© 2008 Nacodoches Daily Sentinel

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