Sunday, May 10, 2009

Burka asks: What does killing the Trans-Texas Corridor mean?--ACRE answers

Paul Burka has posted and received comments about HB 300, the TxDOT Sunset Bill.

I commented that one of the things that should be kept in HB 300 is killing the Trans-Texas Corridor. Burka asked what did people mean by killing the TTC. Below is my reply to his question:

I would say that killing the Trans-Texas Corridor is what is intended by HB 11 by Rep. Leibowitz, which is the “repeal of authority for the establishment and operation of the Trans-Texas Corridor.” I don’t know if this is the language of the amendment that was added to HB 300. It is my understanding that the amendment to HB 300 would be something like HB 11. The purpose would be to take away the authority to create and operate the TTC that was given to TxDOT by HB 3588 in 2003.

As long as this authority to create an entity with the name of TTC is still in statute and still in other official documents such as the Environmental Impact Statement (which is still stuck at the Federal Highway Administration), there is the danger that the project will be resurrected.

The project itself is as described in the document “Crossroads of the Americas” which lays out the design of the TTC as a multi-modal, almost quarter-mile wide swath of routes in a network that criss-crosses Texas—ten vehicular lanes, six rail lines, pipelines, and utility zone, with all concessions within the TTC boundaries—that would sweep through the state, bypassing cities, thus depriving them of trade as well as tax base, because of all the acreage taken out of the local taxing districts.

As it unfolded, it was intended that the TTC be a public-private partnership, giving Cintra (a Spanish corporation) the right to profit from land taken from Texas landowners through eminent domain by the state and turned over to Cintra.

For years, our family and our neighbors have been fighting the TTC. Considering all our efforts added to the efforts of other grass-roots groups along the Corridor routes, there is no telling how many hours, days, years of time and energy we have had to take away from other endeavors to spend in the effort to save our land. These efforts required our time and money, while the people who have been trying to take our land away from us have been well-paid with our own tax money.

Over the years, those of us working against the TTC have had gradual and hard-won success. Not that it was totally due to anti-Corridor efforts, but one instance that I would like to point out is that it was “our Representative” Mike Krusee who authored HB 3588 to create the TTC. Now, our current Representative Diana Maldonado is a coauthor of HB 11 that would abolish the Corridor.

We have made progress, and the TTC name has been disavowed, but the TTC is not dead. So many Texans have spent so many hours fighting the Corridor—hours that could have been put to more productive use—it would be great if this burden could be lifted from the shoulders of rural Texans once and for all, either by HB 11 being voted out of committee and being passed by the Legislature or by keeping language totally repealing the authority for the TTC in HB 300 as it is passed by the Legislature.

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