Tuesday, January 06, 2009

"The roadways will still be built, so we are still very much involved.”

For anti-TTC groups, TxDOT decision a victory


Copyright 2008

AUSTIN – There is no debating Texas needs more roadways, but what the Texas Department of Transportation once thought was the answer, is no more.

"Texans have spoken and TxDOT has been listening," said Karen Amacker, TxDOT spokesperson.

At a forum Tuesday morning, TxDOT’s executive director, Amadeo Saenz, announced the department was pulling funding for the Trans-Texas Corridor, replacing it with a new, smaller project called Innovative Connectivity in Texas: Vision 2009.

It took years of complaints to make the change happen.

“Most of the feedback that we received was that the Trans-Texas Corridor in general just seemed to be a one-size fits all solution and they needed something that was a little bit more diverse to suit the diverse nature of Texas communities,” said Amacker.

The 4,000 mile project was to stretch in two large sections from South Texas up to Oklahoma and Arkansas -- often times right through the property of farmers -- many of whom gathered in protest March 2007.

“We get a car every five to six minutes, we don't need a major toll road bulldozing through our property where we can't own any cattle, we can't do any farming,” said Richard Sullivan, Bosque County farmer.

Instead, Sullivan many others asked for smaller road projects to relieve congestion.

"On a smaller scale and in smaller chunks at a time," said Amacker.

So what was going to be one long project running parallel with Interstate 35 across the state is now going to be broken up into at least 11 separate projects each one tailored to its own area.

For the groups who fought the project -- it's a victory.

"It's a great day for all Texans and a tremendous example of the power of public involvement," said David Stall, founder of CorridorWatch.org.

Others, including the Texas Farm Bureau, are concerned the changes TxDOT is making won't be enough.

"The roadways will still be built, so we are still very much involved,” said Norman Garza, Texas Farm Bureau spokesperson.

Governor Rick Perry backed the Trans Texas Corridor and says state road projects will continue.

“I'm very proud of what we've done, laying out big visions and big ideas for the State of Texas and look forward to keep doing that,” said Gov. Perry.

TxDOT says the projects are still at least 50 years in the making.

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