Saturday, February 02, 2008

"They think that the country folk are just going to wither up and blow away."

Hundreds turn out to block development of road

February 02, 2008

Nachodoches Daily Sentinel
Copyright 2008

Concerned about the local impact of Gov. Rick Perry's planned Trans-Texas Corridor, hundreds of citizens in rural communities held public meetings Thursday and Saturday to exchange information and organize efforts against the highway project.

Many of the more than three hundred attendees of Thursday's meeting at the Martinsville school, and dozens of others who met at the Libby community center Saturday, worried that the proposed route for the highway sears through their communities, threatening to take private land and disrupt their rural way of life.

The meetings, held in advance of official public hearings later in the month sought to develop a strategy for fighting the Interstate-69 branch of the Trans-Texas Corridor.

The TTC system consists of several highways, billed by state officials as a necessary advance in the state road system. The draft environmental impact statement for TTC/I-69, a proposed 650-mile interstate highway from South Texas to Northeast Texas, defines the preferred routes for the component of the TTC system that would affect communities in East Texas.

Grey Burton, the superintendent of Martinsville ISD opened Thursday's meeting by describing one vision of the highway — a ten-lane interstate with 85 mph speed limits, bounded by rail lanes and utilities, with few entrance and exit opportunities. Burton said limited interchanges with local roads was a problem.

"That kind of concerned me a little bit," he said

While some, including Nacogdoches city officials, have been hopeful that the highway would be a boon to cities along its proposed route, many, like those who met recently, have voiced concern over various issues, including fear that removing a 1,200 foot-wide swath of land from the tax roll would deplete the small communities' coffers, and anger that Austin may contract with a foreign company to develop the multi-billion dollar project.

Resentment for the highway brought together citizens from communities inside and outside of Nacogdoches county, such as Garrison, Alazan, Stockman, Shady Grove and Pine Hill. State Rep. Wayne Christian attended both public meetings, applauding the grass roots effort and offering advice on how to get the government to listen.

One of the meetings' organizers, Larry Shelton, outlined arguments against the roadway he said would take his self-made Libby home away from him. He encouraged those at the Libby meeting to learn the talking points and write their comments to officials at all levels of government.

"Let's give everyone in government an earful," he said. "They think that the country folk are just going to wither up and blow away."

Pre-addressed envelopes, free stamps and informational packets summarizing anti-TTC arguments were available at the meeting. Literature and stickers from the anti-corridor Web site were also distributed.

Many in the audience Saturday contributed suggestions for advancing the fight against the highway. Some suggested that East Texans have their relatives in other parts of the state contact public officials to amplify the public outcry. Others said earning the support of corporations in the area like Pilgrim's Pride would help the cause.

Thursday's meeting in Martinsville also revealed a strong anti-immigration sentiment among many who fear the highway will increase the number of illegal immigrants from Mexico. Others at both meetings were displeased that the Madrid-based Cintra corporation is one of the two developers contacted by Austin officials for building proposals. The other possible developer is the San Antonio-based group, Zachry American Infrastructure, Inc.

The informal public meetings Thursday and Sunday precede official public hearings to be held across the state by the Texas Department of Transportation in the coming weeks. The hearings will record the public's comments on the tier one draft environment statement, which outlines the scope, purpose and proposed route of the highway. The Nacogdoches meeting will be at The Fredonia on Thursday, Feb. 14. An open house will be from 5 to 6:30 p.m,, when the public hearing will begin.

Comments may also be submitted online at the official Web site of the project,, or mailed to the agency. The deadline for submitting comments on the tier one impact statement is March 19, 2008.

If tier one is approved using the input from communities, TxDOT will publish a tier two document, which would "address site-specific alignment alternative" and identify "individual properties that could be affected," according to the agency. That document would likely be the subject of further public hearings.

Michele Marcotte contributed to this report.

2008 Nachodoches Daily Sentinel:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE


Citizens for a Better Waller County request another hearing

Officials call for 2nd TTC meeting

February 2, 2008

Brenham Banner-Press
Copyright 2008

Waller County officials are calling for the Texas Department of Transportation to hold another public meeting in their county on a proposed “superhighway,” after a Jan. 22 meeting was so packed that some people couldn’t squeeze into the meeting hall.

TxDOT held a public meeting in Hempstead to gather public input on the Trans Texas Corridor’s proposed I-69 leg which could bring it through Waller and Austin counties, and small portion of Washington County.

More than 800 people surged into the Knights of Columbus Hall in Hempstead. Officials said the hall is located on a narrow, dead end road that was choked with vehicles that had no place to park.

Police were forced to block off access to Mack Washington Street, resulting in some attendees having to park and walk over a quarter mile. Many others went home, unable to find parking on the rain saturated shoulders of FM 1488.

Among those witnessing the crowded conditions was state Sen. Glenn Hegar, whose district includes Washington, Austin and Waller counties.

“I was coming back through Hempstead from Brenham that evening after attending a chamber banquet and I personally realized the overcrowding and the inability of citizens to attend the meeting at the KC Hall,” Hegar said.

Hegar was among those calling on TxDOT to hold an additional “town hall” meeting, along with state Rep. John Zerwas and Waller County Judge Owen Ralston. They were urged to seek an additional hearing by Citizens for a Better Waller County.

All three officials submitted written requests to TxDOT.

In addition, officials also requested that one of the two environmental public meetings on the project scheduled for Feb. 27 be rescheduled to accommodate citizens who many not be able to attend either one.

Both are scheduled on the same day but in different locations.

Gov. Rick Perry first proposed the TTC six years ago. If completed as much as 50 years from now, it would roughly parallel interstate highways with up to a quarter-mile-wide stretch of toll roads, rail lines, pipelines and utility lines. Cost of the project has been estimated at approaching $200 billion, and at 4,000 miles or so it would be the biggest construction project ever in Texas.

Thousands of people have turned out for a series of public meetings, including a large crowd last Monday in Bellville.

The Texas Transportation Commission’s plan outlines 4,000 miles of superhighway corridors that crisscross the state. Four of those corridors have been identified as “priority corridors” to be constructed first, including the I-69 portion.

© 2008 Brenham Banner-Press:

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EPA could be an ally against TxDOT and Corridor backers

Corridor foes happy after EPA meeting

Related Link: Texas 391 Commission Alliance

February 2, 2008

Tammy Leytham
Temple Daily Telegram
Copyright 2008

HOLLAND - A group of Bell County elected officials said their voices were heard by the Environmental Protection Agency, which they believe gives them an ally in their fight to stop the Trans-Texas Corridor from cutting through their towns.

The officials are members of the Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission. They met this week with EPA representatives to discuss concerns with the Corridor’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

One potential route of the multi-lane corridor splits four municipalities and four school districts - Little River-Academy, Bartlett, Holland and Rogers.

After months of writing letters and talking with officials from the Texas Department of Transportation about their concerns, the officials finally believe they are being heard.

“We finished this meeting and they left. We all looked at each other and said, ‘we made our point and we are so pleased how they listened to us,’” said Holland Mayor Mae Smith, who serves as president of the commission.

The officials spent more than two hours expressing concerns. And, they made it clear, they are prepared to fight TxDOT in a legal battle if necessary.

Fred Kelly Grant, an attorney who serves as advisor to the commission, told the EPA representatives they should use their powers of persuasion with TxDOT, “so we don’t all end up in court.”

Grant is president of Stewards of the Range, a property rights group that is helping the commission take on TxDOT’s plans for a superhighway.

Mike Janskey of the EPA told members of the commission his agency’s primary responsibility is “reviewing and evaluating studies for every other federal agency.”

2008 Temple Daily Telegram:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE


Friday, February 01, 2008

Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee to examine how the state should fund its roads.

Transportation a Hot Topic in Interim Charges

Feb 1, 2008

by Christine DeLoma
Volume 12, Issue 23
The Lone Star Report
Copyright t2008

Among the big issues for lawmaker scrutiny this year is transportation policy, as implemented by the Texas Department of Transportation.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst issued interim charges Jan. 30 to the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee to examine how the state should fund its roads. A few of the related issues:

TxDOT’s finances. For months now, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has been telling everyone it hasn’t the money to spend on new projects, and that such money as it does have will barely cover maintenance.

The Transportation and Homeland Security committee and the Senate Finance committee will look at “state and local options for expanding transportation funding.” It will also examine Fund 6, the Highway Fund, and recommend ways to reduce the nearly $1.5 billion in diversions from the fund.

In addition, both committees will take a microscope to TxDOT’s spending habits. The agency has been criticized for hiring lobbyists and spending money on Gov. Rick Perry’s pollster Mike Baselice for conducting polling for the agency.

Dewhurst’s joint interim charge instructs the committee and the Senate Finance committee to study whether TxDOT “is in compliance with Transportation Code 201.109, Revenue Enhancement, and whether the Texas Department of Transportation is using the funding sources provided by the Legislature, including, but not limited to, General Obligation, Fund 6 and Mobility Fund bonds, to build new roads.”

The committee, chaired by Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas), is scheduled to hold a joint public hearing Tues., Feb. 5 on the matter.

TxDOT ad campaign. The agency has also been criticized for spending up to $9 million on an advertising campaign extolling the virtues of toll roads. It will also determine how much TxDOT spends on media related activities and develop guidelines “to ensure appropriate use of state funds to provide legitimate public education.”

CDAs. After TxDOT signed a comprehensive development agreement (CDA) with a private developer to build a portion of private toll road, the Legislature decided to put the brakes on future planned CDAs. The concern was over details in the contract. It was 50 years in length, contained non-compete provisions, costly buyback provisions and was negotiated in secret. Consequently, the Legislature passed a two-year moratorium on many new CDAs.

The committee is charged with studying the implications of shortening a CDA’s maximum allowable contract duration, changing the buyback formula, requiring TxDOT to solicit CDAs after federal environmental clearance for a project has been granted, and studying provisions that affect competing facilities.

Toll roads – public and private. The committee will examine all current and planned toll road projects in the state and the use of the new market valuation tool created in SB 792. The committee will consider lengthening the number of years a toll road authority may issue bonds. The interim charge also instructs the committee to study public-private partnerships to build new toll roads.

Trans-Texas Corridor. The committee is to study how to improve the pubic input process in the development of the Trans-Texas Corridor.

2008 The Lone Star Report:

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To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE


"If the state representatives can't get anything, what makes you think we're going to get anything done?"

Area residents express opposition to I-69/TTC


By TRACY DANG, Managing Editor
The Sealy News
Cop[yright 2008

The I-69/Trans-Texas Corridor is not welcome here.

That was the message more than 1,000 Austin County and surrounding area residents conveyed to Texas Department of Transportation representatives Monday at the town hall meeting at the Austin County Fair Convention and Expo Center.

"Ya'll thought I was crazy in Austin when I said my people don't want it and I don't want it," State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst told TxDOT. "We do have a traffic problem in Texas. We know that. I still believe to my very core that Texas is rich enough to build its own highways and to keep the money working here. I'm not anti-toll. I'm just anti-private equity, and I'm not for a 1,200-foot-wide swath taking up 146 acres."

Several county and city officials took the time to voice their opposition to the project on behalf of their constituents.

"I had a gentleman call today to say, 'If they come straight through my land, am I going to have to pay a toll to go feed my cows?'" Austin County Judge Carolyn Bilski said.

"In a large way, myself and a couple of others have been talking about this, and I'm very much beginning to feel the sympathy that is owed to the American Indians," Sealy Mayor Russell Koym said. "We forced them out of their country. Now we're being forced out of ours. I think the United States and TxDOT can find a better way of doing this because if we can't find something better, we're in trouble."

Even though Austin County Commissioners' Court and Sealy City Council have both passed resolutions against the TTC, hundreds of residents felt the need to put in their own two cents.


Many did not appreciate that the proposed route goes through land with such historic value.

"I really want to know why you're closing borders and having foreigners coming in to build corridors that are going to be going through the many ranches and farms that's the livelihood of the people of Austin County," Carol Blazek said. "If you go right through the middle, they're not going to be able to make a living, and that's what I'm worried about. Some of these ranches and farms have been in four, five, six generations of family, and it'll be just a shame to tear it up."

Although residents will be compensated for their land if TxDOT decides to move forward with the project, there are some things that just cannot be replaced.

"I know a lot of you have had land here since the beginning of the century, and you have roots here that are deep into your land, like I do," Susan Masarik said. "You have family. You have a community. You have a sense of togetherness. Does the fair market value or 'compensation' cover any of that?"

The history that has played such an important role in shaping their lives - and making Texas the state it is today - is something the residents were not willing to give up.

"My father and cousins own this farm still, and it's still a working farm with a hand done well - how hard could that have been," Joan Gentry said tearfully. "I learned how to ride a bike there. I learned how to make sausage. I danced at the Frydek festivals there. And now you're wanting to come in and wipe out all this history. How are you planning to replace this sacred religious land there, a whole cemetery and this significant historic site? Instead of building this huge corridor, you need to be thinking about mass transit that doesn't take up as much space."

"As I mentioned, this is the colonial place of Texas," Carrell Wendt said. "Just south of here, 7,000 soldiers marched through Texas without even having a highway. They don't need one now. Now more than 7,000 folks don't want this.

"The ground on which you stand is holy that your decisions will affect the rights and liberties of thousands," Wendt said. "Tell Gov. Perry this is hallowed ground. This is a historical site. Don't let it go through our hallowed land."


While many understood TxDOT would have to acquire right of way to meet the growing demands of transportation needs, they were concerned about what the proposed corridor is doing to their property value.

"I think the value of my property has declined because I cannot sell it for what I want now because there's this corridor that may come through," JD Divin said. "I have to disclose what is (on my property). I got termites in my house, and I can get rid of the termites, but I don't 'think I can get rid of this."

Even if they could sell their land, they do not know where they would go.

"So you take our land away if the corridor comes through," Cliff Reed said. "Besides me and probably thousands of other people, where are we supposed to live? Texas is only so big."

Others were concerned about how Texas was going to come up with a food supply if the corridor runs through one of the most productive parts of the state.


Despite the concerns, TxDOT representatives said it is possible the TTC will never happen if there is no funding.

Many were concerned if private partnerships will be used to fund the project, and whether or not TxDOT is going to hire foreign companies to do the work.

"We still do not have the contractor that would develop the project or build the project if the project is going to be built, so I can't tell you if that contractor is going to be foreign or American." Saenz said. "We do have two firms we're bringing forward to help us master the project. One firm is foreign, Cintra, and the other firm is from Texas, Zachary."

"So you're saying this great state has to have foreign money to tell us even how to do something?" Gladys Laas asked.

Others did not like how TxDOT claims it does not have enough funding, yet it is spending a lot of money on "promoting" the corridor.

"What we have here today is a sales presentation," Stephen Huber said. "If the state representatives can't get anything, what makes you think we're going to get anything done? Folks, we're road kill. Collateral damage. If the representatives can't do anything about this, we're going to have a real hard time."


While a super highway with no feeder roads and limited access may get transporters and travelers to their destination faster, many questioned whether TxDOT has even considered safety as an issue.

"I evacuated from (Hurricane) Rita, and the last place I want to be is on a closed corridor," Linda Stall said. "When you're out of water and gas money, you're very vulnerable in the 100-degree heat."

One resident pointed out TxDOT already has limited weigh stations and checkpoints that keep DPS Troopers and law enforcement busy.

With a super highway with only a few access points, the TTC will just add to the problems already facing the nation today.

"My main concern is most of you folks don't realize that this corridor is going to be a conduit for slave trafficking, drugs and illegal immigration," Patrick Ratcliffe said. "If we can't stop them right now just by coming across the river, how are we going to stop them going down the super highway?"


Wharton County Commissioner Chris King mentioned railroad companies are trying to build a system that would run approximately 10 trains a day.

"Each train can handle 200 containers a day," he said. "That's 2,000 trucks a day that that train system can alleviate traffic congestion in Texas. Over one year, we're talking about over 700,000 containers that can be handled by freight, not by truck.

"If you're looking to make improvements or make corridors, I think rail is your better solution. Every railroad crossing will delete, not sever all the local roads and not sever all the lands the way the Trans-Texas Corridor is suppose to do this."

Edward Campbell brought a drawing he designed which offered an alternative solution using existing roads.

"This is the yellow brick road you want to build," he said pointing to his drawing.

"This is the yellow brick road you do not want to build," he said pointing to the proposed I-69/TTC.

Campbell was told to bring the drawing to the public hearing in February, where his suggestion will be considered in the final environmental impact statement.


With so much opposition voiced during the town hall meetings, many questioned why TxDOT is even considering to move forward with the proposal.

"Have you found anybody in this part of the country that's for the corridor?" Roger Kloecker said.

TxDOT representatives responded with a no.

"Certainly, Canada has nothing to lose and everything to gain - they get a free ride," Dennis Mlcak said. "Mexico will probably get all the labor from this monstrosity. At the same time, it will be music to their mutual goods and all their revenues owned by goods from China. All this at the expense of the Texans.

"I don't think you should pursue it to the environmental stage. I think you need to go back to the drawing board. You need to separate yourself from the political aspects - mainly the governor - and people who have to gain from this. You need to come up with a plan that is feasible and one that can be approved by the populous."

While some feared TxDOT will move forward with the plans with or without their approval, many urged their fellow neighbors to at least try by voicing their opinions.

"What will it take to stop this process in its entirety?" John Muegge asked.

TxDOT said the people will have an opportunity to go on record with their comments at the public hearing in February. At that time, TxDOT will reevaluate the project in the final environmental impact statement.

"The way we can stop the project is somebody should get 1,000 letters telling their good governor, 'No more!'" Edwin Kuehn said.

Mary Barrow encouraged residents who are against the project to specifically state, "I favor the no action alternative."

As the last person finished making his comment just before midnight, TxDOT reminded residents they have "plenty of opportunities to express their concerns, either in writing or by coming to the public hearings schedule in February and March."

A public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 26 at Sealy High School. The open house will begin at 5 p.m., followed by the public hearing at 6:30 p.m.

2008 The Sealy News New:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE


Texans Rip Perry's TTC-69 Plan

"The only people who will benefit from this are the greedy, blood-sucking corporations, and our lovely governor."

Callers don’t want Trans-Texas Corridor

January 31, 2008

The Victoria Advocate
Copyright 2008

I do not support the Trans-Texas Corridor. It is an unnecessary expense. The proposed taking of people’s land is wrong.


Port O’Connor

No, I do not support the Trans-Texas Corridor. It is a flagrant attempt by the state of Texas to steal land from landowners in order to create a superhighway to allow Chinese goods to be trucked from Mexico into the interior of the country. It is nothing more than a land grab for business purposes.



I don’t support the corridor. It will only enrich the corporations and Rick Perry and will destroy Texas agriculture. The only people who will benefit from this are the greedy, blood-sucking corporations, and our lovely governor.


Jackson County

The Trans-Texas Corridor is a monster born out of NAFTA. The TxDOT board of directors was handpicked by George Bush and comrade Rick Perry. The board answers to no one except Rick Perry. Our elected officials in Austin need to get a backbone and force TxDOT to listen to the people. If not, the officials need to be voted out of office.



I am definitely against the Trans-Texas Corridor.


2008 The Victoria Advocate:

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To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE


Thursday, January 31, 2008

"It's been promised as an interstate freeway, not as a tollway in the hands of a foreign company."

Valley officials court state's superhighway


Lynn Brezoksy
Rio Grande Valley Bureau
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2008

WESLACO — One of 11 town hall meetings at points along Gov. Rick Perry's controversial I-69/Trans-Texas Corridor opened Thursday with officials from different ends of the Valley urging that what would be the region's first interstate be routed their way.

Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas pushed for upgrading U.S. 281, stressing that the highway stretching north from Edinburg was the key evacuation path for more than a million people, a front door to a thriving automotive component industry just across the border, and the second-fastest-growing region in America.

Cameron County Commissioner David Garza countered that U.S. 77 would bring in seaports to both Brownsville and Corpus Christi.

The Trans-Texas Corridor is envisioned ultimately as a 4,000-mile superhighway that would crisscross the state and provide a long-awaited interstate from Valley points north to the Canadian border.

About 75 people attended the meeting, far fewer than meetings held in other regions.

Valley officials have been crying for years for an interstate to boost their post-NAFTA growth by transporting goods from Mexico. When initial plans for an Interstate 69 corridor collapsed, they supported Perry's plan.

Bill Summers, director of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership, said the ideal plan would use both routes.

Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Gaby Garciasaid the informal town hall meetings would be followed by formal public hearings at 46 locations starting in February. The hearings will gather public comment on the 1,072-page environmental impact statement for the South Texas segment.

Although Rio Grande Valley leaders support the corridor plan, it has been railed against elsewhere in the state as a land grab for toll roads that will pay big for private enterprise. Previous meetings have drawn overflow crowds.

The Cintra Zachry consortium, composed of the Zachry Construction Corp. of San Antonio and Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte SA, a Spanish company, planned the first phase of the TTC along Interstate 35. The firms are now competing against one another, TxDOT's Amadeo Saenz said.

"We not only have a massive land grab by the state, but the state has turned over the management, or essentially the ownership of that road, for the next 50 years to a foreign company," said Steve Pringle of the Texas Farm Bureau.

Garcia countered that it would be years before construction or management contracts were awarded.

"They're certainly going to compete, but the key word is compete," she said.

TxDOT's "Keep Texas Moving" Web site says existing highways would take precedence over new routes and that roads will never be converted into toll roads without voter approval. It says there will be free travel alternatives.

Garcia said the state's population growth was outpacing its infrastructure and that traditional funding sources for roads were not good enough.

"What we're going to see is more rail, more trucks on the highway. If we don't find ways to move them more efficiently, we're facing future gridlock," she said. "We need to do this so we're not caught off guard in 10, 20 years saying we should have done that."

Terri Hall, leader of the anti-TTC group Texans United for Reform and Freedom, said Valley officials were supporting the most expensive way to get their interstate.

"It's been promised as an interstate freeway, not as a tollway in the hands of a foreign company," the San Antonio resident said. "The bottom line is they're going to take an existing road and turn around and toll it."

2008 San Antonio Express-News:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE


"Turning our highways into profit centers for foreign corporations is a betrayal of our prosperity and sovereignty."

Letters to the Editor

The state of toll roads

January 31, 2008

John Pettit
Abilene Reporter-News
Copyright 2008

In reference to "Public's turn to speak on toll roads project" on Jan. 16 in the Abilene Reporter-News, toll roads aren't necessarily bad when built with public bonds that revert to freeways when paid off. But turning our highways into profit centers for foreign corporations is a betrayal of our prosperity and sovereignty.

The massive Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) will destroy 580,000 acres of the best farm and ranching land in Texas. In the 1950s and 1960s, Americans built farm-to-market roads and a great interstate highway system. These weren't toll roads, and we didn't turn the job over to a billionaire foreign contractor to take billions out of Texas.

Rick Perry says Texas will keep ownership of our land, but those words won't mean much when the Cintra-Zachry consortium decides to raise toll prices.

Perry has roundly condemned eminent domain when practiced in other states, but now promotes the largest government land grab of private property in our history, promising to offer "fair market value." Land owners, hold on to your wallets! It's a no-brainer; Perry is listening more to a foreign corporation and Rudy Giuliani's law firm, which is "consulting" on this raw deal, than he is to rural Texans.

We can expand our existing transportation system to accommodate future needs with far less environmental damage than quarter-mile wide tollways.

Texans, stop this! Vote Democratic next November, and please speak out -- freeways, not tollways!

John Pettit


2008 Abelene Reporter-News:

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To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE


Ron Paul files bill in the House of Representatives to prevent the Trans-Texas Corridor from receiving federal dollars

Paul: No federal funds for TTC

January 31, 2008

By Stephen Palkot
Fort Bend Herald
Copyright 2008

Ron Paul, Republican congressman from Lake Jackson who is running a longshot bid for president, has filed a bill in the House of Representatives to prevent the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor from receiving federal dollars.

The TTC is a large transportation network championed by Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Department of Transportation that would carve a wide swath out of central Texas to add highway lanes, rail lines and other infrastructure to major trade routes in the state.

Paul, who represents District 14, has long opposed the concept. Among the goals of the TTC are improving trade between the U.S. and its North American neighbors. Paul, who opposes U.S. membership in the United Nations, has said the TTC is part of a broader effort to form a North American organization that could supplant aspects of U.S. law and policy.

Paul has further stated his opposition to the superhighway being built by private companies, who would control aspects of the corridors and would charge fees for its use.

“I am particularly concerned about the use of eminent domain to take private land for the construction of this highway,” said Paul, “and this bill would prevent the federal government from participating in this heinous practice.”

Thus far, planning is under way for two major routes of the corridor: TTC-35 (to run along I-35 in Central Texas) and TTC-69 (to run along the path of the future I-69 along the Gulf Coast).

The corridor proposal has run into much criticism. In January, TxDOT officials travelled the state for a series of “town hall meetings,” which were intended to foster discussion about the TTC and what state leaders say are its benefits. The meetings, including one in Rosenberg, brought out large numbers of opponents.

Paul's district includes western and northern Fort Bend County, including Simonton, Fulshear and Cinco Ranch. He faces two primary opponents in his District 14 re-election bid, and is a candidate in the Republican presidential primary.

© 2008 Fort Bend Herald:

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"I don’t think Sam Houston or Stephen F. Austin struggled over this land to give our highways away to foreign countries."

Kolkhorst: There are other road options


By Kristin Edwards
The Huntsville Item
Copyright 2008

State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst expressed her disapproval of the proposed I-69/Trans-Texas Corridor and offered possible alternatives at the Texas Department of Transportation town hall meeting at the Walker County Fairgrounds Wednesday night.

“I’m proud of you for coming out twice to tell your state what you think about the proposal,” Kolkhorst told the estimated crowd of 800. “I’m going to say the same thing I said in Austin County — we don’t want this thing and I don’t want this thing.
“The blame for what is proposed should surely go right to our commissioners, our governor and even to me in a way, but I’ve been trying to make it right for you.”
Kolkhorst said she has been working against toll roads during the last few years and worked to pass a moratorium on the construction of tollways by private entities. “I have spent the last four years of my life trying to say we don’t want this thing, and my favorite saying is ‘We may need new highways in Texas, but this ain’t it,’” she said. “I helped secure a moratorium against private investors taking over our highways for the next 50 years or more.”
“I don’t think Sam Houston or Stephen F. Austin struggled over this land to give our highways away to foreign countries.”
While Kolkhorst said she was opposed to the current plans for the Trans-Texas Corridor, she said Texas did have a need for improvements in the field of transportation.

“Let me also say that I would not be a very good leader and I wouldn’t represent you very well if I didn’t say that Texas needs new highways,” she said. “We are a growing and vibrant state, and I believe Texas and Texans are rich enough to build their own highways.

“We’ll have to think about a gasoline tax, we’ll have to think about whether toll roads will be in the mix, but if we use toll roads, I believe we should keep that money in Texas, working for Texans.”

During the meeting, Kolkhorst was asked to address Gov. Rick Perry’s involvement with the Trans-Texas Corridor, and she said she believed he would listen to the requests of Walker County residents.
“Perry and I have had some very tense conversations, but I still believe he’ll listen,” she said. “I still have that faith, and hopefully this executive branch of TxDOT will take a message back to the governor saying ‘We don’t think these people want this.’”

Kolkhorst mentioned several alternatives to the Trans-Texas Corridor which she said the public may be called to vote on later.

“We’re going to come up with some proposals, but we’ll still have to make some tough decisions next session,” she said. “We might have to have an index gas tax, but I honestly believe that’s better than selling our roads to foreign companies.

“We have until September 2009 to come up with a new way to do this, and I think we can — right now, we need to say this is not the way to do it.”

In order to cause change in the planning process for the corridor, Kolkhorst told those in attendance to continue to participate in the TxDOT public hearings.

“Continue to talk to these people and ask questions, but do not think it stops here,” she said. “What you can do is show up on Monday, write the governor and write TxDOT. You don’t need to write me, I’m with you.

“Get 10 of your closest friends and come out Monday, and tell them to bring 10 of their closest friends, because we need to tell TxDOT we can do this in a different way that is better for Texas.”

Kolkhorst said the input of the public was very important to the planning and deliberation involved with the corridor.

“I see a lot of people out there who have owned land, and their fathers before them and their fathers before them,” she said. “Let’s tell them why we don’t want a 1,200 foot [road] coming through here. I think we’re all a little tired of the ‘top down’ process — I know I am as a citizen.

“It’s time for us to go from the down up, that’s what our founding fathers wanted, and that’s what I’m asking you to do.”

The Huntsville Item wants to know your opinion on the proposed I-69/Trans-Texas Corridor. To cast your vote, visit, scroll down to the poll link and type your comments.

The responses received before Feb. 5 will be included in an upcoming story.

© 2008 The Huntsville Item :

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE


"High Opposition"

Residents unhappy with governor


By Holly Green
The Huntsville Item
Copyright 2008

The majority of residents from Walker and area counties made it clear Wednesday night how they feel about the proposed I-69/Trans-Texas Corridor.

They are strongly opposed to it.

An estimated 800 people took action on the controversial issue.

The second town hall meeting in Huntsville, offering a chance for open dialogue between residents and the Texas Department of Transportation, took on a different tone than the initial meeting Jan. 23 at the Walker Education Center.

With the main building at the Walker County Fairgrounds able to accommodate the large crowd, property owners and other residents expressed their dissatisfaction with Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Transporation Commission.

Speakers addressing the three TxDOT panelists blamed Perry and not necessarily the state agency for the plan that could require thousands of acres of Texas land.

They said Perry created the plan and then dumped it into TxDOT’s lap.

The proposal also generates opposition from the standpoint of how it would be funded and constructed, especially since TxDOT says it does not have money to build needed roadways in the state.

In attendance were 22 TxDOT representatives, including moderator and district engineer Bryan Wood; and panelists, deputy executive director Steve Simmons, director of Texas Turnpike Authority Phil Russell and director of transportation and planning of the Bryan district Bob Appleton.

Texas Transportation Commissioner Ted Houghton was unable to attend the meeting.

Residents, representing several generations, raised questions about the acquisition of land, toll roads, project funding, border security, the project process and the project timeline.

The I-69/TTC proposal has also received high opposition in other communities in the state, including Hempstead, Bellville and Victoria.

Wednesday night’s meeting, along with other town hall events along the corridor path, were planned in preparation for 46 official public hearings that will take place Feb. 4 through March 3.

The public hearings, that will limit residents to submitting questions and comments without receiving answers or responses, will specifically address the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that was released on Nov. 13, 2007.

Walker County’s public hearing will take place Monday at the fairgrounds at 6:30 p.m.

Doug Booher, TxDOT environmental manager for the Texas Turnpike Authority Division, said that residents have until March 19 to submit comments that will be officially recorded in the DEIS.

Booher addressed all questions concerning the DEIS and the overall process.

“After comments have been submitted, they will be analyzed and given responses,” Booher said. “Then a final Environmental Impact Statement will be prepared, narrowing down the corridor to a one half to four mile area.

“The document will then be put up for review again, giving people another 30 days to submit comments.”

The project, now in tier one (or phase one), according to Booher may never reach tier two.

“There’s no guarantee the project might not make it to tier two,” Booher said. “There has to be a need and we have to know where the funding will come from before we can move forward.”

Booher said it could be three to five years before the “black line” is drawn.

“It could be the middle of 2009 before we actually know exactly where the Interstate would be on the ground,” Booher said. “The most important thing is for the public to stay involved, stay informed and continue to participate in the process. We need their help.”

Booher said the ultimate decision for the I-69/TTC, if it ever makes it that far, will ultimately lie with the Federal Highway Administration.”

According to the TTC’s Web site, Keep Texas Moving, “I-69 is a planned 1,600-mile national highway connecting Mexico, the United States and Canada. Eight states are involved in the project.

“The proposed I-69/TTC extends from Texarkana/Shreveport to Mexico — possibly the Rio Grande Valley or Laredo.”

The initial study area is roughly 650 miles long.

Kolkhorst seemed to give residents a boost with a brief speech expressing her firm opposition and willingness to fight for a better plan for the future of transportation in Texas.

However, she also said she continues to have faith in the powers that be.

“I think we’re all a little tired of top-down (government) — I know I am as a citizen,” Kolkhorst said. “It’s time for us to go from down-up. It’s what our founding fathers wanted when they created our government.

“I still believe that Gov. Rick Perry will listen to you. I still have that faith and I’m counting on TxDOT to bring the message of Walker County and the people back to him.”

Walker County Precinct 1 Commissioner B.J. Gaines Jr. was the first resident and local official to speak and liked what Kolkhorst had to say.

“It’s a real treat to have (TxDOT representatives) back because I don’t think we’re convinced or Walker County is convinced that we know what this road is going to do besides send a lot of people to the unemployment office,” Gaines said. “It was said at the last meeting that it was possible to stop this thing and I’m not sure we really got an answer on how to do that besides showing up here. But I think I have an idea and that’s to replace Mr. Perry with Ms. Kolkhorst.”

For more information on the I-69/Trans-Texas Corridor, visit or

© 2008 The Huntsville Item :

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"There's clearly an opportunity. The challenge is to seize it."

Leppert looks to link Mexico, Dallas ports

Mayor hopes to link Dallas, Monterrey ports

January 31, 2008

The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2008

MONTERREY, Mexico – Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert was all business Wednesday on the last day of his trade mission to Mexico, promoting North Texas as a health-care destination and as a potential trade hub for goods moving through northern Mexico.

"There's clearly an opportunity," he said. "The challenge is to seize it."

Mr. Leppert started the day by pitching Dallas to Monterrey hospital officials as a world-class destination for specialized medical treatment and as an alternative to Houston, where affluent Mexicans have traditionally sought upscale care. And he toured the Monterrey facilities of Addison-based Mary Kay cosmetics, which is growing quickly and creating jobs in both countries.

But one of the more promising projects he discussed with Mexican officials was the creation of a transportation corridor that would allow both North Texas and northern Mexico to benefit from growing U.S.-Mexico trade and booming Asian imports.

Mr. Leppert acknowledged that the project would be complex and difficult but said that it was worth making the effort.

"All good things are going to take hard work, and nothing's easy in life," he said Wednesday after viewing a presentation on possible ways to link the inland port in southern Dallas with a similar one being planned for northern Monterrey.

Both cities are natural transit points, not just for growing trade between Mexico and the U.S., but also potentially for Chinese goods that need alternatives to the crowded California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Some Asian traffic arrives at Mexico's West Coast ports.

Already, nearly two-thirds of the more than $300 billion in U.S.-Mexico trade moves through the state of Nuevo León, where Monterrey is the capital, and Texas, according to the presentation Wednesday.

The excitement over the inland port concept is that booming global trade will create good-paying jobs in the cities that can best partner with private enterprise and move imports and exports as quickly and cheaply as possible, officials in both Dallas and Monterrey said.

An inland port transfers goods from trains to trucks to planes in any combination, warehouses them, and can even provide manufacturing or final assembly facilities – all job creators.

It can also serve as a port of entry for customs and safety inspections. For example, trucks bound to the U.S. could be cleared in Monterrey and those going to Mexico inspected and sealed in Dallas.

Dallas City Council member Ron Natinsky said there is potential for a powerful new North Texas economic growth machine if the current International Inland Port of Dallas, or "double ipod," can grow into a major site for transshipment of goods, warehousing and other services.

Dallas' sister city

Monterrey, already Dallas' "sister city," is a critical piece of the puzzle as it plans to soon break ground on its Interpuerto Monterrey, which will be run by private companies with help from the government – just like the Dallas facility.

The bottom line for both regions: jobs and a growing tax base.

"The number we use here in Dallas is the number we got from the port of L.A.-Long Beach," said Mr. Natinsky on the potential economic boost from a port facility. "Every time a container passes through, there's a local economic benefit in excess of $400 to the local economy.

"When you start taking a million containers here and a million containers there and start passing them through, there's a huge economic benefit obviously for the Dallas area, but also a huge economic benefit for the Monterrey area," Mr. Natinsky said.

Monterrey officials are just as keen on the Dallas inland port, which opened in 2005, and see it as a natural partner once the Mexican project takes off. The land north of Monterrey has been purchased and is set to open before the end of 2009.

"There are a lot of opportunities with Dallas because it is like a mirror image," said Francisco Javier Alejo, the executive coordinator of Nuevo León's center for linking northern Mexico to Texas. "We are at opposite ends of a direct transportation corridor. The cities, which are both economic centers, both have great economic power. That's why it's so important."

Both Dallas and Monterrey want to link with all the big players – the port of Houston, the Panama Canal, Mexican ports like Lázaro Cárdenas and Veracruz. But one of the potentially most lucrative deals is with each other, officials said.

"We have a good relationship," said Mr. Alejo, a former ambassador in Europe and Asia and the Austin consul general from 2002 to 2005. "What has been a little bit dormant in recent years is our sister-city relationship. Part of the reason for this trip is to get it going again. But there's a very strong business relationship."

Rail service

That relationship could get a lot stronger if the Dallas and Monterrey ports are able to link up more directly through a rail line that would move goods more cheaply and more efficiently than the semi-tractor trucks now clogging up highways in northern Mexico and North Texas.

Mr. Natinsky said that rail service from Mexico is problematic because it relies on railroad companies that have other priorities. Building a new railroad line may be the only alternative, although it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

"We've been in discussions with a lot of people. Everybody sees the need for it. Everybody wants to do it. Nobody has pulled the trigger on it yet," he said. "When they do, in my mind, that will be the silver bullet that solves the transportation problems between the two inland ports, which also opens up the ability to get connections from the West Coast of Mexico on up to Dallas."

Karl Zavitkovsky, economic development director for the city of Dallas, said moving special "intermodal" containers on rail from both Monterrey and Houston would give a big boost to the Dallas inland port, which also faces complications with rail service from Houston.

"We can have all the best aspirations in the world, and the inland port of Monterrey can have the same desires, but if we aren't able to work together with the major railroads then it won't happen," Mr. Zavitkovsky said.

On the Mexican side, Mr. Alejo said the government plans to build its own rail line to the Texas border that would be open to any railroad company, just like a toll road.

The Monterrey inland port has train terminals on either side – Kansas City Southern and Ferromex (which is about 25 percent owned by Union Pacific) – but neither has made a commitment to the project, Mr. Alejo said.

Strong potential

Right now, the Dallas port serves train traffic from Los Angeles and Long Beach through a Union Pacific railway terminal, which is at its maximum of 400,000 "container lifts" per year, Mr. Natinsky said. The port project could create 7,000 jobs in three years, he said, and the ultimate goal for its future buildout is 50,000 jobs.

In contrast, the 10-year-old Alliance inland port in northern Fort Worth has a terminal run by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, with a capacity of 750,000 container lifts per year.

With or without a rail connection to Monterrey, Mr. Natinsky said, the southern Dallas facility will grow and thrive. But he'd rather have that link.

One of the biggest landowners in the Dallas inland port is also looking to Monterrey for synergy.

The San Diego-based Allen Group is working with the city and the state of Nuevo León to link its future inland port with the southern Dallas hub.

"With more and more companies deciding as a matter of policy to direct movement of some of their goods from the L.A.-Long Beach area to the deepwater ports in Mexico as a result of congestion, the movement between Mexico and Texas becomes very, very important just as the movement through the Panama Canal to Houston becomes very important," said Leslie Jutzi, the Dallas-based director of governmental and community relations for the Allen Group.

Mr. Alejo said that Nuevo León and Dallas are not the only players, and the game is on.

"The opportunity is there," Mr. Alejo said. "We are going to see who takes advantage of it, and to what extent."

© 2008 The Dallas Morning News:

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"Who's spreading myths now, Commissioner Houghton?"

TxDOT Commission Houghton's myth regarding TTC connecting to Mexico

January 30th, 2008

Robbie Peterson & Trey Duhon
Citizens for a Better Waller County
Copyright 2008

Transportation Commissioner Ted Houghton seems to enjoy "dispelling the myths" about the Trans Texas Corridor as he plays his own version of "Fact vs. Myth" with the Texas citizens. However, last week it was Commissioner Houghton who was caught giving out a few myths of his own.

For those that attended the Jan. 22 TXDOT Town Hall meeting in Hempstead, many may recall how Transportation Commissioner Houghton responded to a citizen's question on why the TTC is not a part of NAFTA, to which Houghton replied, "It doesn't connect to Mexico," which caused the room of 800+ folks in attendance to erupt with laughter.

The man at the microphone told Houghton that the map that he had shows TTC-69 going to Brownsville. Houghton quickly responded that the TTC stops in the city of Brownsville and it stops in the city of McAllen.

Well, it seems that Mr. Houghton is not very familiar with TxDOT's Tier I Enviromental Impact Statement (DEIS) on TTC-69. On page 4-3, under the Section of "Transportation Planning Evaluation" and the subsection "International Border Crossings", the report states:

"In the study area, there are 12 bridges that provide connectivity across the international border. Five are in the Laredo area and seven are in the Rio Grande Valley. There are also seven bridges in various stages of planning. Figure 4.7 locates these existing and proposed border crossing bridges.

Since NAFTA was enacted in 1994, trade between the United States and Mexico increased by approximately 225 percent, reaching $611 billion in 2002 (USBTS 2005). The international trade border crossing points at Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley are among the highest volume in the United States. Within the study area, approximately two-thirds of the trucks and three-fourths of the rail containers enter the United States at Laredo (USBTS 2006a and USBTS 2006b)."

TxDOT was even kind enough to provide a map of the current border crossing in the study area, and the bridges under construction which will provide "connectivity" across the border. (Figure 4.7 of the DEIS). Hmmm..... Shame on Commissioner Houghton for playing games with the citizens in a forum that is supposed to promote a frank and open discussion of the TTC-69. We here at Citizens for a Better Waller County only see this as further evidence of TXDOT's unwillingness to be honest with the citizens of the state of Texas.

Who's spreading myths now, Commissioner Houghton?

© 2008 Citizens for a Better Waller County:

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"You do represent us and you'll have to stand up against them!”

Citizens want more action against I-69


The Navasota Examiner
Copyright 2008

“You don't give TxDOT an alternative. You do represent us and you'll have to stand up against them!” Charles Wynn of Iola urged Grimes County commissioners during a regularly scheduled meeting held on Monday.

Wynn and Ruben Grassl, who lives near Shiro, demanded that commissioners take a stronger stance against TXDOT's proposed plan to cut a path through Grimes County for the creation of TTC/I-69.

“My concern is apathy and the unconcerned attitude from the county in their involvement in stopping I-69 from coming to Grimes County,” Grassl told Commissioners, as both men said they were disappointed in the lack of county representation at a town hall meeting held in Hempstead last week.

Mr. Wynn added that a Brazos Valley Council of Government representative said that Grimes County is supportive of the proposed plan.

County Judge Betty Shiflett responded by saying that someone else had contacted her with that same concern and she is waiting for a copy of the recorded meeting before she formally responds to TxDOT. Shiflett assured citizens that the county is against the proposed route as copies of a December 10, 2007 resolution signed by the Commissioners was made available at the meeting.

According to the resolution, “Grimes County opposes the presently proposed route of the I-69 corridor, which was originally considered for use as a 1200' wide Trans-Texas corridor. This amount of right if way is also opposed by Grimes County, as such corridor would have a significant and far reaching negative impact on the rural character of Grimes County and would result in the loss of thousands of acres of land by rural landowners. However, if this transportation corridor is to be located in Grimes County, the county would prefer an alignment of the corridor with a substantially smaller ROW that maximizes the use of existing corridors, namely State Hwy 6 and State Hwy 30 and their supporting structures.”

Following the meeting, Michael Parks of BVCOG denied the allegation that Grimes County was represented as being for the TxDOT proposal.

© 2008 The Navasota Examiner:

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"These are the people who made Texas what it is today, and now they feel betrayed by their own state"


1,100 attend meeting to discuss Trans-Texas Corridor, I-69

January 29, 2008

The Victoria Advocate
Copyright 2008

Linda Bournias stood at the entrance to the Victoria Community Center dome and looked out over the hundreds of people there Tuesday evening.

“Look at their faces,” she said. “They’re heartbroken.”

These are the people who made Texas what it is today, and now they feel betrayed by their own state, she said.

Bournias, who lives in rural Jackson County, was talking about the 1,100 people attending a Texas Department of Transportation town hall meeting.

While the meeting was designed to provide answers to questions about any state transportation issues, most of the conversation centered on the Trans-Texas Corridor and the proposed Interstate 69 through the Victoria area.

This was the eighth of 12 town hall meetings being conducted by the Texas Department of Transportation along the proposed corridor. It was one of the highest turnouts of any of the town hall sessions so far, said Area Engineer Randy Bena with the state transportation department.

Amadeo Saenz Jr., the state transportation department’s executive director, said the meetings are designed to provide a forum for everyday taxpayers. That includes comments about the controversial Trans-Texas Corridor plan that could take property that has been owned by the same families for generations, he said.

“We understand property rights are very important,” Saenz said before the meeting. “They’re important to us, too.”

And while not everyone has left the meetings happy, Saenz said he believes many were pleased they were able to hear the facts.

“They may not like the corridor,” he said. “But they thanked us for coming.”

The state also provided space for organizations with opposing views, such as Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom. A banner behind the booth stated the group defends citizens’ concerns about toll roads and North American Free Trade Agreement highways.

Among those visiting the booth was James Duran, who owns 89 acres that could be affected by the Trans-Texas Corridor in south Victoria County.

A draft environmental impact study shows a preferred route north of the city for the corridor. Duran said he’s heard city and county officials prefer the corridor go south of Victoria along U.S. 59.

As the existing industrial plants south of Victoria expand, the economy and population will grow, he said. The area south of Victoria would then become more populated and putting a super highway through there would be counterproductive, he said.

That could force the existing business along U.S. 59 to close or move because they would lose their property.

“It just stands to reason,” Duran said. “That’s not going to bring growth.”

David Meek, who owns 1,800 acres near Inez and 400 acres in Jackson County, said he could be forced to sell his land to the state for the corridor.

“If a person owns something, they ought to be able to sell when they want,” he said. “This land has been in the family over 50 years. We’ve worked on it and we’ve sweated over it.”

Some might accuse him of being against progress, Meek said. The problem is not that he opposes progress, but that the project is senseless, he said.

The money would be better spent taking care of the transportation problems in the big cities, he said.

David Tewes is a reporter for the Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6515 or

© 2008 The Victoria Advocate::

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"I want people to have information... I have done my homework."

Town Hall Meeting Video:

Martha Estes gives TxDOT bureaucrats a primer on eminent domain

"I'm using your megaphone because it was our 9 million dollars [in taxes] that helped [you] put on this campaign."

© 2008 Citizens for a Better Waller County:

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“Overwhelmingly, to a staggering degree, the reaction is negative against it.”

Fear and loathing along proposed Trans-Texas Corridor


By David Tanner
Land Line Magazine
Copyright 2008

Some Texans are afraid of losing their land to the Trans-Texas Corridor while others loathe the thought of a quarter-mile-wide swath of toll roads and railway lines transforming the countryside into a superhighway.

People continue to turn out in droves at public meetings concerning the controversial Trans-Texas Corridor proposal, specifically the portion known as the TTC-69 proposed from Brownsville to Texarkana.

A meeting Monday, Jan. 28, at the fairgrounds in Austin County was no exception, drawing more than 1,000 people.

Opposition to the proposed corridor has come from people in all walks of life, said Chris Steinbach, chief of staff for Texas Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, a Trans-Texas Corridor opponent.

“It’s an interesting mix of Texas citizens,” Steinbach told Land Line.

He said the more “left-leaning people” are expressing concerns about free trade and America’s rights.

“Then you’ve got the very rural, agriculture-based people who have earned a living for generations on the land, and they see it as a huge issue and a land grab,” Steinbach said.

Rural citizens are concerned about the limited access such a high-tech corridor would offer.

“The turnpike concept is foreign to most Texans,” Steinbach said. “Overwhelmingly, to a staggering degree, the reaction is negative against it.”

Steinbach does give the Texas Department of Transportation credit for hosting 12 “town hall” meetings like the one in Austin County, leading up to the 46 public hearings scheduled to begin Feb. 21.

“To their credit, they’ve taken it on the road to get a temperature check,” Steinbach said.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry proposed the Trans-Texas Corridor in 2003.

Along with the governor-appointed Texas Transportation Commission, TxDOT is in charge of bringing the proposals into environmental compliance and putting contracts out for bid.

The first corridor phase, known as TTC-35, would parallel Interstate 35 and will most likely be built by Cintra-Zachry, a consortium made up of the Spanish firm Cintra Concessiones De Infraestructuras De Transporte and Austin-based Zachry Construction Corp.

Steinbach said the mere mention of private investors operating the roadway is enough to throw Texans for a loop, and their reaction magnifies when it’s a foreign-based investor.

“If you allow a private vendor to operate the facility, you allow one person to profit from the taking of someone’s land,” Steinbach said. “The idea that foreign companies and foreign nations would invest in this is not acceptable to Texans.”

On the issue of right of way, TXDOT officials said in December 2007 that planners would try to incorporate existing routes into the TTC-69 plan, including portions of U.S. 59.

But that might lead to tolls on roadways that are currently toll free.

“Everyone loses,” Steinbach said. “The truck drivers are going to be paying a toll to use a roadway that the rural people don’t want anyway.”

TXDOT has four more “town hall” meetings prior to the official public hearings.

© 2008 OOIDA:

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"Their goal is to prevent the highway from drowning out those silent voices from the past."

Group fights to stop massive highway from destroying historic cemeteries

January 29, 2008

By Rucks Russell
KHOU-TV Channel 11 News (Houston)
Copyright 2008

“There were quite a few plantations in this area, almost all of Spanish camp were descendants,” said Jan Hobizal.

The cemeteries containing the remains of the slaves who lived and died here, and the huts that once gave them shelter, have weathered the years in Glen Flora near Wharton.

But they may not weather the Trans Texas Corridor planned for the area says Jan Hobizal. “Here’s Glen Flora right here, and it would come right through here.”

It’s the fear, festering in the hearts of local historians and slave descendants alike, that that proposed road could bury this town of 150, along with its history, for good.

And so residents are racing against the clock.

They’re uncovering old tombstones dating from 1834, and pealing back the pages of a story they refuse to let die.

It is a story etched in the soil of the large farms.

“It’s important our kids know where they come from no matter how harsh the reality is,” said Hobizal.

It is a story embedded in the walls of the old Masonic Lodge, a place of refuge for newly emancipated blacks.

“You pass by a field, and you can almost imagine my grand grandfather, chopping that cotton,” said Garlan Berry. “I can almost see them looking down, or feel their hands on me.”

Berry and Hobizal says they will do all they can to save the historic community.

Their goal is to prevent the highway from drowning out those silent voices from the past.

© 2008 KHOU-TV:

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