Trans-Texas Corridor. What more can be said?

Apparently a whole lot, according to the Fort Worth Weekly. The Fort Worth weekly has an interesting article about the fight against the Trans-Texas Corridor. It’s even more of a disaster than I thought. Read the whole article, in the meantime here are some juicy morsels to chew and choke on in the interim:

The executive summary of the bill describes a statewide network of transportation facilities that sounds pretty much like business as usual in the road-building game.

The plan, made public only after 175 Freedom of Information Act requests were filed by citizen groups and news media, describes a 1,200-foot-wide corridor to be leased to private companies who will design, build, and maintain their specific sections, setting and collecting all tolls for contract periods ranging from 50 to 75 years. Sections of existing roads that coincide with the corridor — all of I-35 from San Antonio to Laredo, for example — will become part of the toll road. Additionally, motels, gas stations, and stores built within the corridor will be part of the private company’s holdings — and part of their profit package.

and…

Who gets to decide what tolls to charge on these new roads? Cintra. In the contract, TxDOT agreed that toll prices will be set “at what the market will bear.” A TxDOT news release suggested they would be in the 12- to 24-cent range per mile for autos. Opponents think they’ll more likely be twice that. In other words, the San Antonio-to-Dallas trip could cost a motorist anywhere from $32 to $118 in tolls, plus gas.


plus…

Maybe you figure that if the tolls are too high on the TTC and the exits won’t let you get where you’re going very well, you’ll just stick to the old roads. Well, good luck. The TTC legislation forbids improvement of any road that runs parallel to the TTC corridors beyond what’s already in the works. That means no beautification, no widening, no new exits or entrances for the life of the contract — 50 years in this case. “Imagine if you live in a little town on a two-lane farm-to-market road that runs parallel to this thing,” suggested former Fort Worth City Council member Clyde Picht. “And then a subdivision gets built, and suddenly you’ve got 3,000 homeowners and cars fighting for space on that two-lane road. Well, you need to widen it to accommodate people. But your hands will be tied.”

Having fun yet?

Rep Garnet Coleman of Houston tried to stop the Toll Roads last session but was rebuffed by Mike Krusee (also the author of the bill that created this mess) who wouldn’t let the bill out of committee.

“The only solution is a moratorium on not only the TTC but all toll roads, statewide,” said Rep. Coleman. “This is about cronyism and creating Lexus lanes and paying pals. To invest [this] kind of money … in a superhighway when we could invest it in high-speed rail is ridiculous.”

Coleman said he also believes TxDOT is sitting on road construction that’s already been authorized, in order to keep traffic congestion bad in Houston. “I believe they’re doing it so that people will get so fed up with congestion that they’ll welcome toll roads and the TTC,” he said.

This session, he plans to reintroduce both his toll road moratorium bill and a bill to prohibit TxDOT from advertising the TTC. “This whole TTC has to be stopped. And people are beginning to get it, that it must be stopped. I believe we’re making headway on this issue.”

But Coleman’s closing line is my favorite:

Can a project with this much momentum and political clout behind it be stopped?
“Anything can be stopped.” he said. “It just takes the will of the people.”

Some of this info is probably known by my downstate readers who are more effected by the TTC than us folks in Dallas. But with Loop 9 coming to circle the Dallas area, what happens in the current legislature regarding toll roads is more important than ever.

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