Monday, January 12, 2009

"Billions for the TTC, but not one penny for a bypass."

Broad vision, narrow minds


Nacodoches Daily Sentinel
Copyright 2009

The Trans-Texas Corridor is dead. Long live Interstate-69 — maybe.

Although Texas Gov. Rick Perry conceded Tuesday that the TTC project won't be moving forward, the I-69 project, which would pass through Nacogdoches according to some plans, is still a possibility.

While that may very well be, it seems doubtful, considering these financially uncertain times.

Although Texas' economy has fared better than most in the past six months, predictions of "trillion-dollar deficits for years to come" and warnings of a pending economic crisis — the worst seen since the Great Depression, according to our president-elect — gives us reason to believe that I-69 isn't likely to be built (or begun) during Rick Perry's lifetime, much less his term in office.

While we do agree with Perry that north-south thoroughfares are needed — not just along the U.S. Hwy. 59 footprint, but along Interstate 35 as well, we don't think it likely that there will be enough money for new construction when so many other immediate needs are not being addressed, due to the lack of funding.

A prime example is the much-needed bypass on U.S. Hwy. 59 North at Loop 224 in Nacogdoches. In 2007, Texas Department of Transportation officials said the acquisition of right-of-way would begin in 2008, with construction to begin in 2010. Instead, the project was moved to the back-burner because there wasn't funding for the $45 million project.

Billions for the TTC, but not one penny for a bypass. on a highway that receives 25,000 on any given day, according to TxDOT.

Perry said in an Associated Press story Wednesday that he thought that Texans just "misunderstood" the concept of the TTC, and that it was neither a "public relations failure, on his part, or a rejection on his views."

He was also quoted as saying that "Texans want to see their leaders have broad visions and not be 'sticking our heads in the sand.'"

We have to disagree. If anyone's head has been stuck in the sand, it's Perry's. We believe that Texans well understand the concept of the TTC and what the project meant. And that applies not just to the landowners who would be giving up enormous amounts of land for a project that had little hope of being built, but to the taxpayers and motorists who would be footing the bill for Perry's "broad vision" for generations.

Perry says his push for the TTC demonstrates that he's "not afraid of taking on big and tough issues."

Perry's also not afraid to or spend untold millions on "big, tough issues" such as the TTC. We say "untold," because TxDOT has yet to say how much has been spent on the project.

We agree that leaders should have a broad vision, and be willing to tackle tough projects. But first, tackle some of the small, no-brainers.

© 2009 The Nacodoches Daily

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