Monday, October 12, 2009

NCTOG says the reaction to TTC-35 was "irrational and emotional" and calls for a "cooling off period."

With the Trans-Texas Corridor kaput, what now?


Copyright 2009

The project is dead, but the problem still exists.

The Trans-Texas Corridor was supposed to be the roadway of the future, easing overcrowded North Texas highways. It was the key to ending congestion on Interstate 35 east and west.

Now that the project is dead, the North Central Texas Council of Governments will continue to focus on making minor improvements to I-35 and has stepped up its push for a high-speed rail.

Since emotions over the building of the TTC were so high, NCTOG said there needs to be a cooling off period. In the meantime, drivers will remain stuck in traffic longer.

Many drivers, like Paul Goggins, avoid I-35W in Fort Worth as much as possible.

"Thirty-five has been this way for 10 years, at least," Goggins said.

The planned 600-mile Trans Texas Corridor was supposed to relieve the bottlenecks on I-35W and I-35.

[Note: TxDOT's own projections showed TTC-35 would not relieve congestion on I-35: LINK.]

"There was an irrational, emotional initiative with regard to the Trans-Texas Corridor, largely because it was a surprise, typical reaction when things are talked about top down,” said Michael Morris, the director of NCTOG.

The Loop 9 project around the metro Dallas area is still moving forward, so is the Highway 360 extension in Ellis and Johnson counties

But, in Fort Worth, there is a desperate need for an outer loop and more lanes on I-35W. Neither project has gotten off the ground.

"As we go forward, we need to go to the state and the feds to get money so we can widen I-35,” said Sal Espino, Fort Worth City council member for District 2.

The I-35W bottleneck runs through Espino's district.

“Ideally, I would like to see it widened from the I-30 interchange all the way up to the Speedway,” he said.

The Texas Transportation Commission says there are four other options on the table:

- Double decking I-35 from San Antonio to Dallas

- Building a bypass loops around urban communities

- Widening the current right of way

- Or building a parallel corridor, like the failed Trans-Texas Corridor project

There are a lot of options, but commuters still aren’t optimistic about a real solution.

"They need to get off their butts and do something and make a decision and correct the problem,” Goggins said. “I mean, these two-lane highways are not going to cut it."

The I-35 Corridor Advisory Committee is going to start public involvement all over again. They will submit a plan for a new series of public hearings to TxDOT by the end of the month.


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