Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"What’s dead is the name. The concept is still in place."

Despite name change, TTC still exists


Nannette Kilbey-Smith
Wilson County News
Copyright 2009

ST. HEDWIG — As the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) unveiled its “updated vision” for the Tran-Texas Corridor (TTC) Jan. 6, members of the South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission (391 Commission) watched with interest.

The commission formed to coordinate with TxDOT on transportation issues and concerns in the local area, primarily the impact of the TTC.

“The Trans-Texas Corridor, as it was originally envisioned, is no more,” TxDOT spokesman Karen Amacker told San Antonio’s WOAI News that day.

“Texans have spoken, and we’ve been listening,” said TxDOT Executive Director Amadeo Saenz in Austin, quoted in a TxDOT press release. “… I believe this transformed vision for the TTC and other major corridor development goes a long way toward addressing the concerns we’ve heard over the past several years.”

The local 391 Commission held its regularly scheduled meeting in St. Hedwig the following day. High on the list of updates were the latest revelations on the TTC. Commission President Kathy Palmer of St. Hedwig cautioned all present against celebrating the end of the TTC just yet.

“Yesterday, it was reported that the TTC was dead,” Palmer told members. “Actually, what’s dead is the name. The concept is still in place.

“It’s a little different,” she continued, adding that the width of the proposed transportation corridor has been scaled down from 1,200 feet to no more than 600 feet.

“Now, rather than a single-concept project, this will be a series of projects,” Palmer said. TxDOT will refer to the smaller projects by their segment names, for example, State Highway (S.H.) 130 or Loop 1604.

“They’re still thinking of the corridor as a whole to move goods from seaports to the north,” Palmer said. “San Antonio to Dallas is the priority now.”

The reason for the renaming of the project, Palmer said, is that the Texas Legislature is beginning its new session.

“The TTC had such negative connotations, TxDOT feared the Legislature would pull all funding for it,” Palmer explained. “Unless the draft environmental impact study [now awaiting approval with the Federal Highway Administration] and all funding is pulled, all that we heard in the last four years on this project is still a possibility.”

The new name TxDOT is using for the project is “Innovative Connectivity in Texas|Vision 2009.” View the full document HERE.

New segment committees have been formed to discuss individual projects that comprise the TTC. Palmer told the commission new rules for segment committees had been adopted; new representation would be invited by TxDOT to share citizen concerns with the committees.

New representatives on the 391 Commission include Marion city Councilman James Gray, Guadalupe County commissioners Judy Cope and Cesareo Guadarrama III, and East Central Independent School Board (ISD) President Steve Bryant.

Other entities with invitations to join the commission include the city of La Vernia, the La Vernia ISD, and the Marion ISD.

In other business, members raised issues to discuss with TxDOT during the commission’s next workshop, Feb. 25. Items include:
  • The potential increase in traffic from S.H. 130 on I-10 from Seguin to Loop 410 when S.H. 130 is complete.
  • Landowner access on stretches of S.H. 130 in Guadalupe County where properties will be split by the proposed roadway.
  • The impact on bus routes on small arterial roads within the East Central ISD if TTC construction begins.
  • The impact of potential TTC construction on residential access in Wilson and Bexar counties on F.M. 3432 and U.S. 87.
  • The impact of potential TTC rail and/or vehicular routes on the city of Marion, its school district, and its emergency services.
Members also agreed to cap the number of entities represented on the local 391 Commission; member entities can be municipalities, school districts, counties, and water utilities. At present, five entities are represented: the cities of St. Hedwig and Marion, Wilson and Guadalupe counties, and the East Central ISD.

Wilson County Pct. 4 Commissioner Larry Wiley expressed concern over the growth of the commission.

“If we get too large, we lose the interconnectivity we have with each other,” he said. “But I want to leave open the prospect for adding other entities that may need to join.”

“Some possible member entities already have a voice, because they have a seat at commissioners court,” Wilson County Judge Marvin Quinney said.

Bryant expressed concerns that Bexar County was not represented at the table, except by his district.

St. Hedwig city Councilman Susann Baker recommended capping the membership at eight entities and an adjustment to the bylaws to reflect this; the item met with full approval by the commission.

The 391 Commission will meet again Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 2 p.m. in the St. Hedwig City Hall. Although the meeting is open to the public, it will be a workshop with TxDOT; therefore, no public input will be permitted, Palmer said.

© 2009 Wilson County Newswww.wilsoncountynews.com

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