Saturday, March 29, 2008

Boondoggle backers ponder name change for the Trans-Texas Corridor

Officials: 'Trans-Texas Corridor' a taboo, but need real


Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Copyright 2008

FORT WORTH -- The Trans-Texas Corridor is now so controversial, merely uttering the words in most political circles is taboo.

"We're calling it a 'regional loop' because you can't say 'Trans-Texas Corridor' in the state of Texas anymore," said Michael Morris, transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

"The Trans-Texas Corridor is a lightning rod," he told visiting state representatives this week while explaining how the corridor would connect to regional highways by 2030.

Opposition to the proposed construction of a $184 billion network of toll roads during the next 50 years is so strong statewide that lawmakers now question whether it's wise for the Texas Transportation Department to continue planning the huge project in its current form.

But transportation officials say they must press on. While opposing views must be respected, the state can't afford to ignore its growing traffic problems, Texas Transportation Commissioner Ned Holmes of Houston said this week.

"Clearly the Trans-Texas Corridor name has developed some controversy in and of itself," Holmes said. "That does not diminish the need for mobility in the state."

In the past two years, the Metroplex region and the Houston region both have created more jobs than any state in the union, he said.

"Texas is unique in its growth patterns. If we don't plan for Texas' growth patterns, we won't have a chance to meet those needs," he said.

Criticisms with merit

Despite Morris' hesitation to mention the Trans-Texas Corridor by name, North Texas leaders generally back the plan. Most are desperate to fix the region's growing traffic problems, clean up the air and keep the economy going in the nation's fourth-largest metropolitan area.

Elsewhere in Texas, common criticisms are that the corridor plan would take too much property out of the hands of private landowners, impose tolls in rural areas where drivers don't want them and turn over control of Texas roads to private, often foreign-owned companies.

"To say that the term Trans-Texas Corridor is tainted is an understatement," said state Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Keller. "There are some positive components of the Trans-Texas Corridor, but those have been overshadowed by all the negative."

What makes good sense to her would be separating freight truck traffic from passenger traffic and routing it around major metropolitan areas, rather than congesting local streets, she said.

"The plan for marketing the Trans-Texas Corridor and properly seeking public input regarding the plan were flawed and poorly executed," she said. "Rumors about the plan were left unchecked and facts became obliterated by fiction in the minds of many."

Lawmakers may consider passing new laws during the 2009 legislative session to curb the Transportation Department's ability to advance the Trans-Texas Corridor and other privately run toll projects, according to state Sen. Kim Brimer, R-Fort Worth. One option: a ban on foreign investment in Texas roads.

What's in a name?

Some people who supported building Interstate 69 from Laredo to Houston and east Texas now oppose the plan to build it as a part of the Trans-Texas toll road, Holmes said.

About 14,000 people have submitted comments on the I-69 proposal, state records show.

Thousands of others submitted comments during public meetings in summer 2006 on the first leg of the Trans-Texas Corridor -- a proposed Interstate 35 reliever route from Dallas-Fort Worth to San Antonio. Even so, that project is still under study and could be under construction by 2012, according to a master plan developed by the Spanish firm Cintra.

State officials have even considered that perhaps the name itself has become too symbolic. Without the fancy name, the argument goes, would there be widespread resistance to adding lanes along gridlocked I-35?

"The Trans-Texas Corridor designation has begun to develop a life of its own that has muddled some of that support," Holmes said. "But I believe the support is still out there. We simply need to find a mechanism to tap into that support."

Transportation Commission Chairwoman Hope Andrade of San Antonio added: "Yes, it's a viable project. We're moving forward on it. We have to just be firm and committed to do what we believe is the right thing in preparing our state for the next 25 to 50 years."

GORDON DICKSON, 817-685-3816

© 2008, Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

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To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Every candidate running for a state office this primary season has probably fielded pointed questions about the TTC...It’s not a popular idea."

Bumpy road ahead for TxDOT

March 27, 2008

Michael Gresham, Editor & Publisher
The Kaufman Herald
Copyright 2008

Walking across the square last week, I got stopped by Sam Lalumia.

I thought the local restauranteur wanted to bend my ear about some free publicity for his recently beautifully renovated building on the square.

However, this time, Sam was on a different mission — it’s one he’s had for a while.

Sam, and many other folks, are concerned about what he referred to as “Dead Man’s Corner,” a portion of Farm-to-Market Road 987 in Post Oak Bend.

If you’ve ever traveled FM 987, you know the spot: it’s a stretch of uneven road that jostles you along right before you make a sharp turn to avoid a massive tree that appears to sit right where the shoulder of the road should be.

Sam’s seen too many wrecks there and he wants the Texas Department of Transportation to do something about it.

He’s not alone.

Unfortunately, he’s in a long line of people who want TxDOT to fix road woes across this state.

I’m sorry to tell Sam that I don’t have any answers for him yet on getting that problem resolved. Like him, though, I believe something needs to be done and I’ll keep poking around until we find an answer.

That being said, we may all need to understand the political landscape involving TxDOT.

While close to home we’d like to smooth out a few problems on our local highways, there appears to be some major bumps in the road for TxDOT in the near future.

In February, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker Tom Craddick asked the state auditor to perform a comprehensive review of the “entire financial process of TxDOT.” That request came after a senate hearing investigating the financial state of TxDOT.

According to TxDOT, transportation leaders have identified $188 billion in needed construction projects to create an acceptable transportation system in Texas by 2030. Although TxDOT estimates $102 billion will be available during the next 25 years, Texans will still end up a with a transportation funding gap of $86 billion.

Simply put, TxDOT has more in its shopping cart than it can afford.

There are a number of plans being floated out there on how to address this shortfall in funds. One is the dreaded toll road. In addition to smaller toll roads run sometimes by private entities, this solution also calls for the controversial Trans-Texas Corridor.

I’m not a fan of toll roads myself and apparently, I’m not alone.

Meanwhile, every candidate running for a state office this primary season has probably fielded pointed questions about the Tran-Texas Corridor. At least around these parts, it’s not a popular idea.

During the last legislative session, property taxes and school finance were highlighted as the big problems needing to be addressed. I imagine this next session, the spotlight will be turned on Texas roadways. Construction and maintenance costs continue to escalate and the number of requests to fix roads is stacking up faster than cars at the intersection of Washington Street and U.S. Hwy. 175 during rush hour.

Texas leaders have to find a new way to keep up our roads.

Until they do, Sam and I along with the rest of Kaufman County may be in for a rough ride.


© 2008, The Kaufman Herald:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New county organization fights TTC-69

“Grimes County Get Organized” Fighting the I-69/TTC


The Navasota Examiner
Copyright 2008

The Grimes County Get Organized group is in the process of recruiting willing participants who would like to join the organization in fighting the I-69-TTC.

The group's mission is to keep landowners and citizens informed of any updates concerning the I-69-TTC, as many residents of Grimes County are reportedly unaware of the proposed corridor.

Grimes County Get Organized is currently under the guidance of Coordinator Joyce Floyd, along with Edna Keasling, Reuben Grassl, Mary Lois Boatman, Carrie Jobe, Joan Stutts Escamilla, Leanne Floyd, Marie Kampbell, and Vanessa Burzynski.

At the present time an email address,, has been established for the group so that participants will be able to receive email updates on the I-69-TTC and any other information that the organization deems necessary to share with its affiliates concerning the Texas-Trans Corridor. Please include your name, mailing address and your telephone numbers.

If you would like to join the Grimes County Get Organized group, please respond to the email address requesting that you be included in future emails. Please include your mailing address and telephone contact numbers, and let us know how you would like to participate.

For those who do not have access to the Internet and would like to join the group, please send you name, mailing address and telephone numbers to: Grimes County Get Organized, P. O. Box 64, Roans Prairie, TX 77875.

Additionally, a Web site for Grimes County Get Organized has been constructed to broaden the impact of the organization. You may visit the Web site
at: and participate on their message board at:

Concerned citizens will be able to connect to the Web site for additional information and Web site links concerning the Trans Texas Corridor.

Similar organizations have been formed in neighboring counties and throughout the U.S. fighting the corridor battle.

Here are a few Web sites that you may visit to keep yourself informed:

© 2008, The Navasota Examiner:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

'Grimes County Get Organized' asks County Commissioners to form a 391 Commission

Commissioners asked to form “391 Commission” against I-69/TTC


The Navasota Examiner
Copyright 2008

Though some may believe the I-69 Trans Texas Corridor will not be constructed, due to overwhelming opposition and various remarks by TxDOT representatives, a newly formed local group called “Grimes County Get Organized” asked Commissioners on Monday to consider forming a Commission group based on Local Government Code 391; to ensure the currently proposed construction plan through the county is officially stopped.

The idea to form the commission came from a recent informational meeting about how to stop the corridor held in Lufkin, Texas and hosted by Holland Mayor Mae Smith. According to the informational handouts, the East Central Texas Sub-Regional Group formed by Mayor Smith, Mayor Arthur White of Bartlett, Mayor Ronnie White of Little-River Academy and Mayor Billy Crow of Rogers formed the commission in July 2007 and have already had several private meetings regarding I-35/TTC with TxDOT and the Environmental Protection Agency.

This is due to the fact that Government Code 391 stipulates that federal agencies must work with the group that consists of elected officials representing local communities, and ensures they have equal standing on issues, such as how the construction of the proposed corridor might affect the local economy, response times by emergency services, etc.

County Judge Betty Shiflett thanked citizens for the information they provided on the matter, and said it would be researched further prior to any decision.

© 2008, The Navasota Examiner:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

"You'd think it were in the public interest for this information to be provided to taxpayers as they would be picking up the bill...Apparently not."

Toll roads quiet on whether oil will take its toll on traffic

March 26, 2008

Michael West
The Age (Australia)
Copyright 2008

Private road operators could be living in a fuel's paradise, but they are unlikely to admit that.

Apparently the oil price is no big deal for toll roads.

A ring around some of the key operators Transurban, Connect East, Connector Motorways and even the peak body, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, delivered not one oil price assumption. Even an industry range was out of the question.

Top secret stuff it was.

When a barrel of oil was changing hands for around $US50 a barrel back in 2005, Goldman Sachs came out with a report which predicted oil would get to $US100. The report was mocked as if it came from some kind of crackpot peak oil theorist.

Now traders are explaining in daily market reports how weak demand has been the reason the oil price slipped under $US100 and peak oil theory is mainstream, though preferably ignored.

And now Goldman, no doubt emboldened by its heroic call on oil from the days when $US50 seemed outrageous, has sallied forth with a ''super-spike high-end'' price of $US200 a barrel by 2010 should there be supply disruptions. That doesn't mean it's right but it is a fair call that oil is on an inexorable trajectory ... higher.

For the toll-road operators, though, the oil price assumptions are "externalities'' which are not public information but are contained in the ''independent expert'' traffic opinions from consultants used in their models.

You would think it were in the public interest for this information to be provided to taxpayers as they would be picking up the bill were the oil price to run too high and dramatically affect road patronage.

Apparently not.

There used to be a Public Sector Comparator document for privatisations so the public could get a peek at what it would cost to governments to fund works by issuing bonds against the cost and benefit of selling a concession to a private consortium.

There could even have been public transport options - options which will have looked pretty clever if oil went to $US200 a barrel in the next few years.

Rather, the media can't even get this detail via Freedom of Information requests even after spending thousands of dollars.

The concessionaires perhaps can't be expected to provide ''commercial in confidence'' information, even if it is over a 40-year lease of a public asset. Still, the reluctance suggests paranoia: ''In response to fuel increases, people would be expected to seek out more fuel efficient cars and routes rather than change their mode of transport,'' said one operator.

The argument on oil prices is that demand for motoring is ''relatively inelastic''. Further the concessions have tolls linked to CPI and oil is part of the CPI so they are covered as far as lifting their prices. They have a natural hedge - unless it simply becomes too expensive to drive.

Fuel efficient cars will go some way to addressing this fear but mass market electric and solar autos are some years from development.

© 2008, The Age:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

Investment bankers and TxDOT push pension fund investment in Texas toll roads

Pension funds sought to finance toll roads


R.G. Ratcliffe
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2008

AUSTIN — Investment bankers and a state highway official Tuesday told legislators the state's two largest pension funds should consider investing some of their $130 billion in holdings into building toll roads in Texas.

Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said he thinks it is a good idea, especially because the Teacher Retirement System of Texas last year invested $100 million into building a casino in Las Vegas.

"It makes zero sense for our retirement funds to be investing in casinos in Las Vegas and then say they can't invest in toll roads in Texas," Ogden said.

But the concept was met with skepticism by some of Ogden's fellow lawmakers as the Senate finance and state affairs committees met in joint session.

Some noted it could lead to foreign infrastructure investing that would be as controversial as the casino project, while others noted that only a portion of the investment funds could be used for financing toll roads.

Texas has turned to the construction of toll roads because of a shortage of tax dollars and federal funding. The toll roads have been met with resident opposition in parts of the state.

The investment bankers and a state highway planner were enthusiastic Tuesday about the prospects of using some of the $22 billion held by the Employees Retirement System of Texas and the $108 billion teacher retirement system to invest in state infrastructure needs.

Phillip Russell, assistant executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation, said pension fund investments could free some state highway money for other projects while giving the funds stability they don't have in the stock market.

Thomas Osborne of the UBS Investment Bank said pension fund investments in infrastructure projects already are common in Australia and Canada, and he said California's pension funds have begun making such investments. He said such investing needs to be carefully structured but that it can "help bridge the gap" in road construction funding.

Pension fund officials said they can make such investments already but noted there are problems with them.

Britt Harris, the chief investment officer for the teacher fund, said infrastructure investing will grow in the future, and he noted that China in the next six years will need to start building highways equal to those now existing in the United States. He said such an infrastructure investment may be worthwhile because China will pay a high rate of return for the investment.

But Harris told lawmakers that if Texas offers him a 12 percent return on building a toll road and Oklahoma offers him a 15 percent return, he will be obligated to the retired teachers to finance the Oklahoma project.

Employees Retirement System Executive Director Ann Fuelberg said any such investments in Texas would have to be carefully structured to avoid federal IRS rules against self-dealing.

© 2008, San Antonio Express-News:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Co-sponsor of TTC-enabling HB 3588 wants to build toll roads, and then divert toll tax revenue to other state agencies.


Texas can solve the problem of financing road construction

March 25, 2008

State Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, TEXAS SENATE
Austin American-Statesman
Copyright 2008

Recently, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), in its effort to address the highway construction needs of our state, alarmed many in the Legislature and many more in my district. This is counter-productive and unnecessary. I want to report to you what can be done to get things back on track.

TxDOT is not "out of money" and can lift its current moratorium on new construction by selling $1.5 billion of voter-approved bonds. Concerns have been raised on repayment of this large sum of money. In response, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, House Speaker Tom Craddick, House Appropriations Chairman Warren Chisum, and myself as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee recently wrote a letter to TxDOT Chairwoman Hope Andrade. We informed her that $300 million has been appropriated to TxDOT for debt service and committed to increase funding for TxDOT in the next biennial budget.

Last November, Texans overwhelmingly approved another $5 billion in general obligation bonds for highway improvements. During the next session, which begins in January, the Legislature will pass a bill authorizing TxDOT to sell these bonds and use the proceeds for new road construction.

Later this month, the Senate Finance Committee will examine additional financing methods. Specifically, I want to explore the possibility of investing a portion of our state's trust funds (i.e., Employees Retirement System, Teachers Retirement System, Permanent School Fund, Permanent University Fund) in TxDOT toll projects. The argument for this is straightforward. If it is such a great idea for foreign companies to invest in and profit from our roads, why isn't it a good idea for our retired teachers and state employees to invest their trust funds in and profit from these roads?

These same trust funds currently make large investments in real estate and infrastructure outside of Texas. I think some of this money should be invested in Texas and that this would be a "win-win-win" situation. Roads will be built, the trust funds will get a guaranteed return on their investment, and the toll revenue would benefit public education in Texas.

The problem of financing the construction of Texas roadways can be solved. The solutions that I propose do not require new taxes, sales to private concerns, or destruction of the countryside with Trans-Texas Corridors a thousand feet wide. Let's stop arguing and get to work on solutions that Texans will support.

Ogden is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

© 2008, Austin American-Statesman:

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"Lay this I-69/TTC absurdity to rest and hold hearings on Tier I which allows for building highway infrastructure within existing footprints."

McReynolds to TxDOT: 'Drop I-69/TTC absurdity'

March 25, 2008

The Lufkin Daily News
Copyright 2008

State Representative Jim McReynolds has sent a letter to the Texas Department of Transportation saying he thinks TxDOT should drop the idea of tying the Trans-Texas Corridor in with plans for routing Interstate 69 through East Texas.

McReynolds says tremendous negative outcry from his constituents and other East Texas residents has made it clear to him no one wants infrastructure that massive and disruptive to the quality of life to be built, taking big swaths out of the Pineywoods countryside.

"Within the past several weeks, I have personally attended every TxDOT hearing held in my district regarding this proposed corridor," McReynolds said in a March 18 letter sent to Ed Pensock of TxDOT. "I have also encouraged all to attend and to voice their concerns and to receive answers to their questions. People came, people spoke and the answer is unmistakably clear — I along with 99.9 percent of East Texans adamantly oppose the I-69/TTC.

"On the House Appropriations Committee this past session, we discussed at length provisions of HB 3588 passed during the 78th session, as well as TxDOT's contracting with private industry. And I along my fellow House members proudly voted to put in place a moratorium on your agency for further contracting on new projects during the interim.

"For many years, East Texans have followed the TxDOT plans for the I-69 corridor. I have attended many meetings regarding this proposed thoroughfare. Make no mistakes, we support infrastructure and highway building — but all of us expected this to be within existing footprints of existing highways. None of us ever dreamed of combining the TTC with I-69 which TxDOT has recently done in the hearings.

"As a vice chairman of the Rural Caucus for the past decade, when the idea of the TTC was conceived in 2002, we had grave concerns about it because we are, have been and I hope will always be a private property rights state. I hope that the management at TxDOT has not forgotten this.

"The comments in my district about the proposed I-69/TTC corridor include many serious concerns: loss of cherished property, cemeteries, agriculture, antiquities, water, game, noise, air and light pollution, access, emergency, loss of business, loss of property tax base for schools and county, homeland security and NAFTA concerns to only mention a few. As far as I know, TxDOT is not taking into serious consideration high speed rail, or whether or not Texans or visitors to our state will even need this type of infrastructure 20 or 30 years from now.

"I believe that I represent every member of the East Texas delegation who serve in both the Texas House and Senate when I say, please lay this I-69/TTC absurdity to rest and begin holding hearings on Tier I which allows for building highway infrastructure within existing footprints. I believe that you will find a much more pleasant reception among us who are proud to call East Texas home."

Recent meetings held in Lufkin, Diboll, Nacogdoches and Center sparked crowds of property owners who voiced their concerns similar to those of McReynolds regarding the massive highway project. A public response deadline has been extended through April 18 by TxDOT, online at www.keeptexasmoving com. or via regular mail at I-69/TTC, P.O. Box 14428, Austin TX 78761.

14428, Austin, TX 78761.

© 2008, Lufkin Daily News:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

"Following a request from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison..."

TxDOT extends commenting deadline on TTC project

For TTC-69 DEIS comment guidelines click : [HERE]

March 25, 2008

The Nacodoches Daily Sentinel
Copyright 2008

Following a request from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, The Texas Department of Transportation announced Monday a 30-day extension on the deadline to submit public comments about the controversial Trans Texas Corridor project.

Gabriela Garcia, TxDOT's public information officer, said by telephone that the public will have until April 18 to send the state agency comments about the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the massive document that outlines possible routes for the proposed 10-lane superhighway.

"We were wanting to make sure that the public had more opportunity to comment on the document, and we also had received a request from Senator Hutchison to do so," Garcia said.

Sen. Hutchison spoke against the TTC last week in Nacogdoches and told an audience that she had requested a 45-day extension for public comments.

"I am very much against the concept of the Trans-Texas Corridor," Hutchison said.

Substantive comments on the DEIS, will be addressed when TxDOT releases the Final Environmental Impact Statement, which will be evaluated by the Federal Highway Administration later this year. Release of the FEIS may be delayed if there are a large number of additional comments, Garcia said.

The Federal Highway Administration will decide which plan — including the use of existing highways like U.S. Hwy 59 — TxDOT should pursue, or it may rule that TxDOT should halt the project completely.

TxDOT officials say they have received more than 14,000 comments on the DEIS. More than 700 Nacogdoches-area citizens attended a public hearing at The Fredonia in February, mostly to voice their opposition to the highway project on a variety of grounds.

Garcia said that the public has already had months to comment, but that the additional time can still yield helpful feedback.

"Any time there is more public involvement in any process, the more we're going to get back," Garcia said.

Comments on the draft environmental impact statement may be submitted online at or by mail to I-69. TTC P.O. Box 14228 Austin, TX, 78761.

© 2008, Nacodoches Daily Sentinel:

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To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

Thirty-day extension for public comments on TTC-69

TxDOT gets 30-day extension on public comments for Interstate-69/Trans-Texas Corridor


By Pegasus News wire
Copyright 2008

The Texas Department of Transportation's request for a 30-day extension of the public comment period for the Interstate-69/Trans-Texas Corridor Tier One Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been granted. The request was approved by the Federal Highway Administration which oversees the environmental review process for transportation projects.

TxDOT has held over 500 meetings on the Trans-Texas Corridor including 254 county meetings, 95 environmental meetings and hearings on I-69/TTC, 171 environmental meetings and hearings on TTC-35, and 12 town hall meetings.

The public comment period opened in December, and an extension through April 18th allows more citizens the opportunity to express their views regarding I-69/Trans-Texas Corridor. TxDOT has already received over 14,000 comments regarding I-69/TTC.

Although no additional public hearings are scheduled, Texans can submit comments online or mail them to I-69/TTC, P.O. Box 14428, Austin, TX 78761.

© 2008, Pegasus News:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

Deadline for mailed and online public comments on TTC-69: Friday, April 18, 2008


Citizens for a Better Waller County
Copyright 2008

The following information is provided by Citizens for a Better Waller County (CBWC) as a guide to citizens in how to respond and provide input to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in regards to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed Trans Texas Corridor/I-69 route (TTC-69). The information contained herein is not intended to be an exhaustive list, and recommendations found here are the recommendations of CBWC.

First, it is important to understand what is the DEIS? Prepared jointly by Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the purpose is toidentify the “best route” for the TTC-69 taking the following factors into consideration:

– Avoid resources protected by law or regulation
– Minimize inclusion of other natural resources
– Minimize the potential for social and economic effects
– Minimize the potential to affect existing infrastructure
– Allow a buffer from development around protected resources
– Provide space for transportation system connections
– Consider local and regional planning objectives

The DEIS is over 1000 pages. The easiest way to access the document is through TxDOT’s website by clicking HERE.

You can also request either adisk or paper copy at cost of printing at 1-866-554-6989. (Disk is less than $5, but a full paper copy is about $300). Copies are also available at most public libraries in the area.

TxDOT is currently receiving public comment and input on the DEIS through April 18, 2008.


Official comments from the public that are “on the record” can be done in any one of three ways:

I. PUBLIC HEARING: A series of public hearings were held throughout various cities along the TTC-69 route and have since been completed March 4, 2008

II. ONLINE: You can submit comments online through TXDOT’s website by clicking HERE.

However, there are limitations.
  • First, you are limited to 1000 characters for your comments.
  • Second, the online form DOES NOT contain a box to check to indicate that you don't support any TTC route with the "I Oppose the TTC-69" and "I Support the NO Action Alternative". If you are opposed to the TTC-69, you should make sure you state that you want the “NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE”, which means the TTC-69 should not be built – anywhere. Period.
III. IN WRITING: Written comments may be submitted by mail or at the Public Hearings. There is no limit on the length of written comments. If you submit by mail, the mailing address is TTC-69 P.O. Box 14428 Austin, TX. 78761. Again, we recommend that you include the language that you support the “NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE”. Written comments must be submitted by March 19, 2008.

Again, we recommend that any comments you give to TXDOT in this format should begin or include the fact that you support the “NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE”.



Additionally, it is best for each member of a household to make comments individually rather than making a comment as a household unit.

TxDOT is required by law to respond to every comment or objection to the DEIS that falls within the categories of issues that the DEIS is designed to address. These issues include factors such as environmental, historical significance, social and economic impacts, natural resources,and transportation issues.

It is best if your comments are focused on these areas.

In order to be effective, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to try to focus on “technical” objections to the DEIS.

CBWC has prepared the following “laundry list” of technical objections to the DEIS to assist citizens in making effective comments on the DEIS. This list is not exhaustive or inclusive of every objection. We welcome any suggestions or additions to this list. ALWAYS INCLUDE THE STATEMENT THAT YOU SUPPORT THE “NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE

The list below are example arguments to make against the DEIS. IF you are submitting your comments in writing, please do not just copy these. Write your comments in your own words and in your own order. Add other concerns and issues you may be aware of specific to your property. At the end, state your name and location of property that might be affected by the TTC.

Natural Resources
1. The current DEIS does not contain any mitigation for loss of agricultural land or evaluation of such impact. Agricultural land is a natural resource that is not easily
replaceable. Because of the resource requirements necessary to create viable agricultural farms and ranches (fertile soil, location, climate, acreage),agricultural land that is destroyed by the TTC-69 will not be replaced. As a natural resource, this must be taken into account and lost agricultural land must be mitigated (i.e. replaced) by TXDOT.

Agriculture is the state's second largest industry and employs about one out of every
seven working Texans. Every agricultural producer feeds 129 people in this country.
Loss of agricultural land at a time when the state of Texas and the U.S.A is experiencing enormous population growth should be taken into consideration. The DEIS does not do this.


2. Threatened and endangered species are known to be in area and are not reflected in DEIS documentation, and habitats suitable for the existence and recovery of these species are prevalent in the area and must be protected.

Federal Endangered Species in the Waller County Area
Houston Toad (amphibian)
Attwater’s Greater Prairie Chicken (bird)
Interior Least Tern (bird)
Red Cockaded Woodpecker (bird)
Whooping Crane (bird)
Red Wolf (mammal)
State Endangered/Threatened Species in the Waller County Area
American Peregrine Falcon (bird)
Artic Peregrine Falcon (bird)
Bald Eagle (bird)
Peregrine Falcon (bird)
White-faced Ibis (bird)
White-tailed Hawk (bird)
Wood Stork (bird)
Blue Sucker (fish)
Creek chubsucker (fish)
Louisiana Black Bear (mammal)
Alligator Snapping Turtle (reptile)
Rare Species
Henslow’s Sparros (bird)
Sharpnose Shiner (fish)
Plain Spotted Skunk (mammal)
Southeastern Myotis Bat (mammal)
False Spike Mussel (mollusks)
Pistolgrip (mollusks)
Rock Pocketbook (mollusks)
Texas Fawnfoot (mollusks)
For an current list of rare, threatened, and endangered species in Texas by county, visit the Texas Parks & Wildlife website by clicking HERE.

This list does not include endangered plant species. For a list of endangered and
threatened plants in Texas, click HERE.

If you have any of these animals or plants present on your land, or you know of their
existence in the area, it is important to note these facts, and if you can, document it and provide such documentation to TXDOT in writing if possible.

3. The current DEIS provides no assessment of impact for the loss of land currently under state approved wildlife management land programs.

4. The current DEIS makes no mention of the unique threats to the areas such as the
Blackland’s Prairie, which Texas Parks and Wildlife calls “the most degraded of Texas’s 10 ecological regions”.

5. Waller County is already in a non-attainment area, Zone 5, for air quality (in other words, Waller County is already in an area that has been classified by the EPA as having a serious air quality/pollution problem). The current DEIS does not take into consideration how the increase in truck and auto traffic will affect Waller County’s classification. The increase in traffic along with higher speed limits will increase carbon emissions in the area.

6. The current DEIS does not take into consideration the impact of the TTC on water quality and flooding issues in the Waller County area. There are areas in the northeast quadrant of the area that are in the 100 year flood plain and would require additional drainage/ flood control attention. The current DEIS does not take this into consideration.

Also, the current watershed from this area flows into Harris County. Harris County has a "no net increase" rule in relation to discharge to its streams and water sheds. The
hydrology of the TTC in Waller County will totally disrupt the current hydrology in such a massive scale that it will exhaust what few capital resources the county has. The DEIS does not address who will be responsible for correcting the hydrology or sheet flow across the county in the form of distention or retention along either side of the path of the TTC, and how much additional land may be required for this purpose.

7. There is no consideration in the DEIS of incremental environmental effects (more fuel use, more greenhouse gas, loss of land for agriculture, loss of trees, energy and materials to build etc.) of a longer “loop” path around Houston vs. going straight through Houston and not building a loop

a. Proposed loop must be evaluated against using existing Houston corridors
b. Proposed loop must be evaluated against improved Houston infrastructure, such
as adding additional lanes to Sam Houston Parkway or Grand Parkway
c. Houston roads are only congested approximately 5 hours per day on business days
(i.e., roads are relatively uncongested about 85% of the time)
d. The DEIS does not take into consideration what the effect of higher speed limits
on the TTC-69 will have on greenhouse gases, carbon emissions, pollution, etc.
8. There is no consideration in the DEIS of the environmental impact of truck-hauled
cargo/containers as opposed to use of existing rail lines instead of new-build roadway.

9. The current DEIS does not give any consideration to the detrimental effects from noise and light pollution on areas that are currently pristine and unaffected by such issues.

Social & Economic

10. The population density figures used in the current DEIS are outdated and incorrect. The DEIS uses figures from the 1990 census. These figures are not accurate and as a result, the impact of the TTC-69 from a social and economic standpoint are grossly underestimated.

11. The current DEIS does not take into account unique land usage issues, such as the
residential airpark in Brookshire, Sport Flyers, the Waller County Country Club has both a golf course and a residential airpark, the Soaring Club of Houston (an educational facility that is also home to an auxiliary Civil Air Patrol unit), Cimmaron Ranch, a private airstrip, the Fish Farm, and many others such as Camp Allen in southern Grimes County. Using the mitigation angle, these locations would be unable to "rebuild" in other locations in the county due to unique geographical considerations. The DEIS shows only Intercontinental and Hobby in their discussions of airports.

12. Security. The current DEIS does not take into consideration the impact the TTC will have on state and national security. Currently, the Drug Enforcement Agency estimates that more than 9,300 commercial trucks, carrying everything from piñatas to electronics, pass through Nuevo Laredo into Laredo each day, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. As cargo shifts from Los Angeles to Mexico, it is expected to triple the amount of traffic moving from Mexico through the Texas Highway system. TJ Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council testified before Congress that less than 5 percent of the 6 million cargo containers entering the US each year are physically inspected by the US Customs and Border Protection agents. Additionally, US Representative McCaul’s report “A Line in the Sand” concluded, during
2005, of the 1.2 million illegal aliens apprehended by Border Patrol, 650,000 of those
were not from Mexico, and 650 individuals were from “special interest countries.”
“Special interest countries” are countries designated by our US Intelligence as countries that could export terrorists to the US to do harm. And, Federal law enforcement estimates that only 10-30% of aliens are actually apprehended, and only 10-20% of illegal drugs are seized. It seems that the economic growth supposed by the TTC system outweighs the danger to our national security and increases in drug and human smuggling.

13. The current DEIS does not give any consideration for loss of economic value for land currently valued by natural resource considerations only (tranquility, beauty, etc.) rather than agricultural value.

14. Residences, businesses, ranches, and farms within this study could suffer a loss in value attributed to what is known as economic and/or external obsolescence as a result of the TTC-69/DEIS process. Economic or external obsolescence is “an element of accrued depreciation; a defect, usually incurable, cause by negative influences outside a site”. Property located in and around these proposed or recommended paths will likely be impacted the greatest. Due to the design of the TTC-69 (size, lack of access, and lack of feeder roads), adjacent property is unlikely to benefit from the “commercial value” aspects of a typical highway and/or interstate. As a result, property values in the studyareas will suffer losses. This will also contribute to a decline in taxable revenue, which will impact school districts and county governments. The current DEIS does not contain any evaluation on how a project of this size, scope, and design (the nature of which has never been done before) will have on property values in the areas affected by it.


15. The heritage of Native American mounds known to exist in the area must be protected. The current DEIS does not take into account the locations of any sites that have Native American significance such as burial sites, mounds, etc.

16. The current DEIS does not take into consideration areas in Waller County that have
significant historical or cultural significance, such as historical sites, cemeteries
(especially unmarked family cemeteries), buildings that may qualify as historical sites, etc. If you have these types of items on your property, you must bring them to the attention of TXDOT.


17. The current DEIS does not contain any consideration or evaluation of what impact the TTC-69 will have on local transportation and mobility in this area. As currently
designed, the TTC-69 could seriously inhibit mobility between the east and west sides of Waller County, especially without few crossovers. The DEIS does not contain any
specific requirements as to which crossroads will get crossovers. Most of Waller County mobility occurs on farm to market roads. If these roads are not given access and crossover ability, Waller County mobility will be seriously damaged and the impact on Waller County from an economic and social perspective would also be significant. The current DEIS does not take this into consideration.

18. Researchers Peter Swan and Michael Belzer of Penn State & Wayne State University
presented statistics documenting the negative side effects toll roads have on secondary road networks to the Transportation Research Board in January. They have concluded that ...”when toll rates are set to maximize profit where congestion is not a significant problem (i.e. Waller County), they can introduce substantial inefficiencies in the overall road transportation network and actually increase congestion and safety hazards in other parts of the system that they do not own and control.” In other words, trucks will resort to local roads to avoid the tolls, thereby increasing the risk of accidents on local, rural roads. The current DEIS does not address increased safety hazards on local, rural roads.

19. The current DEIS does not contain any evaluation of the impact the TTC-69 will have on local government services, such as Emergency Medical Services, Fire Department
services, school districts, and emergency response times. If constructed with connections at 290 and I-10, the TTC-69 will impose an immense financial burden on county and city governments, and local school districts split by the project, as these entities will be forced to build new facilities and purchase new vehicles to provide services on both sides of the project. At the same time, the project will remove approximately 5,000 acres from the tax rolls of the county. The project does not address how local services and emergency response times will be maintained with less tax revenue.

20. For the purposes of justifying the need for a new “loop” around Houston, such a study must include:
a. Projections of traffic by year along each stretch of roadway
b. Breakdown by truck vs. automobile traffic
c. At both nodes where IH-69 splits from Houston directed corridor (i.e., Wharton
and Lufkin), percentage breakdown along each path
d. Quantification of environmental emissions for new “loop” road
The current DEIS not include such studies.


© 2008, Citizens for a Better Waller County:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE

Sunday, March 23, 2008

"The existing U.S. Highway 59 right of way is more than sufficient to add additional lanes."

Officials should respond to constituents’ wants

March 23, 2008

J. E. Hollan, Victoria
The Victoria Advocate
Copyright 2008

Editor, the Advocate:

The article in the March 17 Victoria Advocate about the Trans-Texas Corridor brought up two issues I would like discussed a little further.

The first is calling it the Interstate 69/Trans-Texas Corridor project. I believe the Interstate 69 highway idea existed way before the concept of a Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) was promoted by the governor. I’ll bet that the governor and the Texas Transportation Commission would like very much for us to connect the two.

Actually, I understand that there can be an Interstate 69 highway without it being combined with the TTC. A study by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University has concluded that Texas could finance its highway needs without toll roads (e.g. Trans-Texas Corridor). The study was presented to the Texas Study Commission on Transportation Financing and set forth the scenarios under which roads could be financed without the need for toll roads.

The other issue is in Victoria County and about the two routes being proposed by the Texas Department of Transportation: northern route or southern route. Here, too, I am sure the governor and the highway department officials in Austin would love for Victorians to be arguing among ourselves about which route their corridor would take.

I believe that just about no one in Victoria County wants a quarter-mile wide swath cut through our county tearing up farms and ranches and disrupting or ruining some existing businesses and turned over to a consortium led by a foreign firm so we can have the privilege of paying an estimated 15 cents per mile to drive to Houston or the Rio Grande Valley.

The existing U.S. Highway 59 right of way is more than sufficient to add additional lanes if necessary to service Texas’ transportation needs well into the future.

The way to stop this massive unneeded and unwanted corridor? Write your elected representatives. They have the power to stop it, and they must do it early in the 2009 legislative session, so there will be plenty of time to override the expected veto by the governor.

© 2008, The Victoria Advocate:

To search TTC News Archives click HERE

To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click HERE