Tuesday, January 06, 2009

"All of the individual projects that were adopted under the TTC umbrella will remain as stand-alone projects."

Trans Texas Corridor: Dead or Still Breathing?


By Kevin Davis
KXXV (Waco-Temple-Killeen)
Copyright 2008

AUSTIN - The reports of the death of the Trans Texas Corridor may have been greatly exaggerated.

Amadeo Saenz, executive director of TxDOT announced on Monday "the TTC is not the choice of Texans." However, on the same day, Governor Perry talking to reporters overseas suggested the move was mostly a name change, saying "The name 'Trans Texas Corridor' is over with. We're going to continue to build roads in the state of Texas."

In fact, all of the individual projects that were adopted under the TTC umbrella will remain as stand-alone projects. The method of funding through toll roads run by private-public partnerships will remain the same. The only major difference is the proposed mileage to be used by roads will drop from 1400 miles to only 300 miles.

Todd Hill, of Burnt Orange Report, says there are similar problems within the new implementation that haven't been fixed. For example, the revenue from the toll roads will go towards private entities, some of whom operate outside the country.

"If you're going to put a tollbooth up, it should be to pay for the infrastructure that you had built. Once it's paid for, take it down, but in this case they own the rights, they reap the benefits of it, and that money doesn't come back to Texas. All that money goes out of state, out of country, and disappears, and we still have the same transportation issues."

Hill sees the move by TxDOT as a way to change public perception at a critical time when the Obama administration is considering massive amounts of spending on infrastructure as part of its economic stimulus package. "By them chunking these projects into small pieces that they can get the funding they need to get these projects enacted and built and in essence you'll have the TTC come to fruition just in chunks in pieces."

The TTC has never been popular with Texans, let alone Central Texans, and Chris Lippencott of TxDOT admitted as much today in a press conference.

"As a department, TxDOT could have done a better job of explaining to people what we were trying to accomplish. I certain think there are folks who thought we had bit off more than we could chew, that we were focused on the wrong components of solving our transportation problems."

The final makeup of the plan formerly-known-as-Trans-Texas-Corridor won't solidify until the Obama Administration releases the details of its economic stimulus package. Until then, it's anyone's guess whether the result will be more like the TTC, or a completely new idea.

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