Friday, January 09, 2009

"You can’t say it’s truly dead until legislators repeal statutes that authorized the Trans-Texas Corridor."

Highway plan revamp good news


Southwest Farm Press
Copyright 2009

The Texas Department of Transportation’s about-face on the concept of the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) is good news for all Texans, said Kenneth Dierschke, president of the state’s largest farm organization.

“The fact that the boondoggle of TTC is being diminished—the 1,200 foot, one-size-fits-all corridor all across the state—is very positive,” Texas Farm Bureau’s Kenneth Dierschke said about Innovative Connectivity In Texas/Vision 2009, an update by the Texas Transportation Commission of the guidelines for development of the proposed transportation project.

Dierschke urged legislators to repeal statutes that authorize the TTC in the upcoming session.

“You can’t say it’s truly dead until that’s done,” he said.

Dierschke said Texas Farm Bureau recognizes the need for new roads and infrastructure in Texas but strongly disagreed with the original TTC plans. However, he said the Trans-Texas Corridor has not gone away.

“It’s being reshaped in a package that has both good and bad points,” he said.

The report said major corridor projects will be comprised of several small segments closer to 600 feet wide and will no longer be called Trans-Texas Corridor. Instead, the department will use the highway numbers originally associated with each segment.

Dierschke said another positive is TxDOT said they will seek local input for each segment before it is developed.

“Using segment committees to understand needs of local communities and landowners is tremendously important,” Dierschke said. “It appears that TxDOT is committing to be more open in their planning. If so, impacted landowners need to become involved in the process.”

Still, Dierschke said, parts of the report are the same old package with a new name.

“We’re talking toll roads. We’re still talking comprehensive development agreements, which allow foreign companies such as Cintra-Zachary to have a huge stake in the future of Texas transportation. We’re still talking massive projects. We’re still talking about the taking of private property.”

The TFB president said he hoped the need for eminent domain reform legislation won’t be lost in the TTC shuffle as the session nears.

“Eminent domain reform was never about the Trans-Texas Corridor only,” Dierschke said. “However, the thousands and thousands of acres of farmland subject to takings by the TTC brought the issue to light. And the chance for reform is now.”

© 2009 Southwest Farm

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