Wednesday, August 06, 2008

"Should we declare victory and ignore the realities? In a word... NO!"

Have YOU drunk the TxDOT Kool-Aid?


Martha Estes
Wharton Journal-Spectator
Copyright 2008

Numerous citizens along the TTC-69 route are expressing satisfaction about the recent news to the effect that "it’s over, we won". I find that conclusion very disturbing because it is a very dangerous mirage to buy into.

Yes, the Texas Transportation Commissioners and TxDOT bigwigs have ’told us’ that Waller Austin, Grimes, and Walker Counties are no longer being considered as a western TTC-69 loop around Houston. AND they have said that "wherever possible" they will follow the existing footprint and right of way of US 59 for the 600+ mile Trans-Texas Corridor 69 as it is developed from Laredo through East Texas to points on the Arkansas and Louisiana borders.

What they did not remind you of include the following established facts:
  • 1. House Bill 3588 remains law with the same design features & intent to auction off our public transportation assets to global consortiums for toll revenues.
  • 2. The governor’s appointees on the Texas Transportation Commission remain loyal to his transportation policies which include numerous TTC projects and the intent to assess other state roadways as toll road viable "commodities".
  • 3. CDAs or public-private partnerships with 50 year secretive contract terms remain the "financing tool of choice" with the Transportation Commissioners and TxDOT.
  • 4. The moratorium that prevents TxDOT from signing CDA contracts expires with the end of the 2009 session.
  • 5. The TTC-35 and TTC-69 continue to go forward with a TTC-69 $5 million design contract awarded by TxDOT on Jun 26, 2008 to Zachry & ACS (Actividades de Construcción y Servicios, S.A), Dragados, UBS, SICE, and Steer Davies Gleave.
  • 6. The eminent domain realities leave all Texas property owners helpless to control their properties or receive any particular assessed value for them in condemnation.
  • 7. No amendment exists to trigger an override session to overturn the governor’s vetoes with veto-proof legislative majorities.
  • 8. Reforms of the Texas Transportation Commission & TxDOT and restrictions on Trans-Texas Corridors & state toll roads will only happen if OUR legislators make changes in the laws in the 81st Session of the legislature beginning on January 13, 2009.
Now, does that sound as if we should declare victory and ignore the realities? In a word... NO, unless we want to lose the ground we have worked for. But it does suggest that we ALL have some important work to do to influence our legislators to protect our public transportation assets and shape transportation policy for the people of Texas.

© 2008, Wharton Journal-Spectator:

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