Wednesday, October 07, 2009

"The move comes on the heels of the Texas Farm Bureau's decision to endorse U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison over Perry."

TxDOT issues 'kill shot' to Trans Texas Corridor


Houston Chronicle
Copyright 2009

AUSTIN – State transportation officials, who earlier this year declared the Trans-Texas Corridor dead at least in name, plan to stick a fork in the lingering Interstate 35 section of the proposal Wednesday.

Texas Department of Transportation officials said that in response to comments from citizens during the environmental review of Trans-Texas Corridor-35, the agency would end efforts to develop it “through the Trans-Texas Corridor concept.”

The highway was envisioned as a congestion-relieving parallel to I-35 between Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio.

GOP Gov. Rick Perry had championed the Trans-Texas Corridor, an ambitious highway network proposal including public-private partnerships and tollways. It was meant to address a transportation system whose revenues are not keeping up with needs.

An outcry from landowners and others, however, prompted the transportation agency earlier this year to say it would scale back the network concept and drop the name. The I-35 proposal was a lingering project.

As part of the decision, the Associated Press reported that the development contract with a private company was being terminated. Spain-based Cintra and Zachry Construction Corp. of San Antonio had the development contract to develop projects. A Zachry spokeswoman did not immediately return a telephone call for comment.

Agency officials said they will detail the “path forward” Wednesday. The agency is overseen by the Perry-appointed Texas Transportation Commission.

The move comes on the heels of the Texas Farm Bureau's decision to endorse U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison over Perry in the race for the GOP nod for governor. The Trans-Texas Corridor is a key area on which Perry split with the bureau.

The transportation agency emphasized the reason for the original Trans-Texas Corridor concept in a statement today.

“Interstate 35 has long been recognized as one of the state's most congested highways, delaying travel for motorists and freight. The TTC concept was introduced in 2001 as a strategy to address congestion,” said the agency's statement.

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