Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Jankowski either wrote this article with a pre-determined outcome or just didn’t want to take the time to find the facts to back up his argument."

A Case For The Trans-Texas Corridor?


Eye On Williamson
Copyright 2008

There may be a case to be made for Rick Perry’s Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) but the one that Phillip Jankowski of the Taylor Daily Press recently tried to make isn’t it - A case for the Trans-Texas Corridor. In an attempt to show how the TTC can make the city of Taylor a “player” again in Williamson County, he shows that he is obviously unaware of some of the greatest flaws and complaints rural and small town Texans have had with the TTC from the beginning.

In his Op-Ed Jankowski implores Taylor to “forget its past” and “embrace” Rick Perry’s TTC. Telling farmers that certainly some of their land would be destroyed but:

To the losers, any compensation would not make up for these agriculturists losing their most prized possession.

Still, with rising expenses in an already risk-laden enterprise, I wonder how many farmers would object to their land being sold at the highest reasonable value possible. And if negotiated right, those who would be hardest hit by eminent domain (yet another Taylor dirty word; I’m on a roll here!) may end up with incredibly valuable commercial real estate as businesses would clamor to snatch up land adjacent to the highway.

The premise that farmer/ranchers are willing to abandon the land that has been in their family for generations if the price is right, when the cost to TX agriculture - taking all that black land out of production - is far greater in comparison. And, as an aside, belittling their livelihood will get you nowhere. One of the first problems many had with the TTC, as stated by former TxDOT chair Ric Williamson, was the extremely limited access there would be to the new highway:

Toll roads would be built first and would probably begin with the special truck lanes, the state’s report said. Roads would have fewer ramps than interstate highways to cut down on development near the corridors. (Emphasis added).

“This is extremely limited access,” said Commissioner Ric Williamson. “We will not allow cities and villages to crop up along the route.”

Although I would be remiss if I left out the concept of “participation payments”, mentioned later in the above link and here by soon-to-be-former Rep. Mike Krusee, from 2003.

TxDOT does not now have authority to do what we call “corridor participation payments” – sometimes they’re called royalty payments for right-of-way acquisition. And it grants TxDOT additional exclusive development authority powers.

Participation payments are one of the added touches of HB 3588. It’s not just limited access that’s a problem with the TTC, but also the fact that all the concessions - gas stations, hotels, stores - will be inside the corridor, with all the money going to the state. (See here and here). That combined with the “extremely limited” access will deny the “boon to the city’s economy” which the Op-Ed points to as the trade off for the losers whose farmland would be destroyed.

Hopefully Mr. Jankowski will take this information into consideration and see that those opposed to Gov. Perry’s TTC are not a bunch of NIMBY rubes, solely opposed to progress. We’ve been immersed in this fight for years and while we may see the TTC as vile, and TxDOT and eminent as dirty words, we are not opposed to listening to someone who wants to make a case for the TTC. It just comes off better if they are well versed on the issue before trying to tell us how it is.

Oh and speaking of progress, I was able to turn up all the information to rebut this Op-Ed with simple web searches that took a few minutes. Which means that Mr. Jankowski either wrote this article with a pre-determined outcome or just didn’t want to take the time to find the facts to back up his argument. Either way it doesn’t reflect back well on the TDP.

© 2008, Eye on Williamson:

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