Sunday, September 27, 2009

TTC-35 Final Environmental Impact Statement STILL not released

The TTC-35 nvironmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which is expected to show that SH 130 will be the Corridor route through Williamson County, was due out in 2007. Now, in the last quarter of 2009, there is still no FEIS.

The Hillsboro Reporter noted in August that John A. Barton, TxDOT assistant executive director in charge of engineering operations, said that a ruling on the FEIS by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) “is expected by the end of the year, but there has been no decision on what to do with the study if it is approved,” because “the corridor system proposed by Governor Rick Perry fell by the wayside following political pressure from rural Texas residents.”

Standing Ground, published by Dan and Margaret Byfield, reports that the Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission has filed a petition with the FHWA requesting that the study be rejected because “time has expired for [TxDOT] to complete the study under the Texas Administrative Code, the Texas Legislature denied authorization for CDA’s [the funding mechanism] for the TTC, and the entire project has changed significantly, making the current TTC environmental study obsolete.”

The Commission is awaiting a response from the FHWA, while preparing for the next step. The DEIS did not address some issues that should have been addressed, which can be challenged in a court of law. The Byfields conclude that “the once fast-tracked project is now at a standstill as TxDOT and the FHWA determine which direction to head, given the illegalities of the environmental study.”

Restrictions on eminent domain No. 11 on Nov. ballot

An eminent domain constitutional amendment will be on the November 3 ballot. Proposition 11 will help prevent in Texas what happened in the 2005 Kelo case, where the U.S. Supreme Court upheld taking property from one private owner and giving it to another private owner, for the purpose of economic development. This amendment to the Texas constitution will limit the taking of private property to a public use, not private development.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vince May files 290 E tolling lawsuit against TxDOT, others

Vince May has filed his lawsuit regarding tolling 290 East against CTRMA, CAMPO, TxDOT, and the Federal Highway Administration. The major points are below. Keep an eye out for media coverage as news of this suit spreads.

"Plaintiff will enter into a binding agreement with defendants, with surety, if defendants agree to build and operate the 290E project under the terms of the 290E Environmental Assessment, as presented to the public in August 2008, and further provided that defendants begin construction before February 1 2010 and complete the continuous 3-lane frontage roads from US 183 to east of Parmer Lane before commencing work on the main lanes, or main lane bridges, other than movement of earth, or removal of existing pavements and structures.

"If this agreement can not be amicably concluded, plaintiff prays that the Judge will order that the 290E Finding Of No Significant Impact is null and void, and that defendants may only proceed after completing an Environmental Impact Statement if they seek federal money or loans.

"Further, plaintiff prays that the Judge will enjoin defendants from denying access to public information requested by the public pursuant to any future Environmental Assessments or Environmental Impact Statements. This request pertains especially to 'Traffic & Revenue Studies,' no matter what stage of completion, whether Preliminary or Investment Grade."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Poll results against tolling 290 East

Here are the results of the poll on tolling 290 East from Jim Lutz. Thanks to Jim for undertaking this project. Respondents who live in the Manor area and who routinely drive 290 East were overwhelmingly against tolling 290 East and for financing highways with gas taxes instead of tolls.

Internet Opinion Poll Voters Reject Segment 1 of the Manor Tollway by a Margin of 83 Against to 48 In Favor (9-18-09)

An internet poll asking for citizen opinions for and against the tolling of US 290 was announced in the Manor Messenger issue of September 10th. During the 8 days of polling between 9-10-09 and 9-17-09 there were 185 opinions registered online.
The largest number of voters were from the East Travis County area.

The three polling questions included…
1. I live or work east of I35 and routinely use US 290 East ...Agree or Disagree
2. New construction of and improvements to existing major Texas arterial roadways should be financed by……choose A. Gas Taxes or B. Toll Roads
3. I approve of the tolling of US 290 East between 183 continuing east of the intersection of 290E/Springdale ….Agree or Disagree

Finally a box was provided for a signature and zip code.

A total of 185 entries were entered in the opinion poll. 54 respondents neither provided a signature and/or a zip code or were duplicate entries. These were rejected. The poll results reflect the opinions of the remaining 131 respondents.

In total 83 citizens voted against the US 290 toll road and 48 residents favored its construction.

East Travis County residents with zip codes in the Manor, Elgin, Coupland and Samsung areas totaled 91 voters of the total of 131 voters. Of these 71 votes were registered against the toll road and 29 votes favored the toll road construction as described in the poll. The remaining zip codes represent citizens in other areas. The designated zip codes were found in

35 votes were registered from the immediate 78653 Manor area code and included 28 votes against the toll road and 7 votes favoring the toll road.

Of the total 131 voters, 24 respondents didn’t use US 290 routinely. Sixteen of these 24 non user respondents also voted in favor of the US 290 toll road .

Nearly all of the voters against the US 290E toll road also voted in favor of gas taxes over poll taxes as a means of financing “major Texas arterial roadways”.

Thank you for your participation in this poll. Free poll software is available from Google at Google Docs.

Jim Lutz
Manor Area Citizen

Sunday, September 13, 2009

More misleading info from CTRMA about tolling 290 E

Fancy Fairchild, area resident and long-time opponent of tolling 290 E, has written the following letter in rebuttal to the CTRMA's Heiligenstein:

"Mike Heiligenstein, Exec. Director of CTRMA, and other people who work for that agency have given 'misleading public information' (a nice way of saying it) to the public on several occasions.
At the Environmental, Social, and Economic Impact Hearing on August 8, 2008, CTRMA spokesmen said that with their toll plan there would be 3 free lanes on 290 E with no charge for flyover bridges. They said it would cost an estimated 15 cents per mile in 2010 to drive on the toll road, with the rate to be raised 2.75% annually.

"A couple of months after this hearing, CTRMA asked CAMPO to approve a new plan essentially changing the number of free lanes from 3 to 2 and charges for using flyover bridges (with new bridges added to the plan). Their new plan also changes the way the rates are decided so that a higher percentage of rate can be charged. With the new plan, the costs of driving the toll road would greatly increase.

"The 'free lanes' Mr. Heiligenstein continually promises would not be like the freeway we currently use. Last year during a meeting at the Blackland Prairie citizen’s organization, ­­CTRMA’s Assistant Exec. Director Amadeo Saenz admitted that the speed limit on the 'free' lanes would average 35 mph and that several lights would be added in order to (and I quote) 'force people to drive on the toll road.'

"It’s too bad TXDOT, CTRMA, and other transportation agencies did not do what they should have done all along: create a viable, affordable plan to deal with 290 East traffic with the money they already have. A lawsuit is apparently the only way to get them to do that. The 290 East toll project is so frail it has to be propped up with federal stimulus money meant to provide aid to citizens. Federal stimulus funds should not finance an expensive and unnecessary toll road whose profits will go to perpetuate even more toll roads."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Take the poll about tolling 290 East

If you have an opinion on tolling 290 East, Jim Lutz has created a poll to register your opinion.
His poll is on his website bolaman. Just click on this link:

The poll asks for names and zip codes, but the names will not be published. A notice about this poll will appear in this Thursday's Manor Messenger.

Jim said, "I have had only a few comments about the proposed lawsuit in opposition to the 290 E latest toll plan. I thought it would be worthwhile to create an online poll similar to one created a few years ago about whether local citizens support or oppose the latest TxDot/CTRMA 290 toll plan. I am not personally a litigant but I think the results may have an impact one way or the other....The toll poll can be found at ...."

This toll poll announcement has been sent to the ACRE email list and the Blackland Prairie Concerned Citizens list.

Please see the previous post about donating to the lawsuit against tolling 290 East.