Thursday, January 15, 2009

Trans Texas Corridor Dead Only in Name Says Group

Trans Texas Corridor Dead Only in Name Says Group

By Mark Anderson

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Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, one of the main citizen groups that has steadfastly fought the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) portion of the NAFTA Superhighway for several years, does not buy new claims by Texas highway officials that the TTC is “dead”—not by a long shot.....

“The announcement by TxDOT Executive Director Amadeo Saenz at the Texas Transportation Forum that the ‘Trans ....Texas.... Corridor, as it was originally envisioned, is no more,’ is just another in a series of comments to lead opponents into believing the Trans Texas Corridor is indeed dead. TURF believes this is a deliberate move to dupe opponents into complacency, and we expect iron-clad action before we begin celebrating victory,” TURF founder Terri Hall informed American Free Press in a news release Jan. 7.

AFP had just covered a Jan. 5 federal court hearing where TURF is fighting for the right to hang two banners across ....San Antonio.... city public right-of-ways to alert the public about a TTC-related plan to convert area freeways into tollways. TURF wants to let the public know that conventional gas-tax plans for maintaining and improving ....Texas.... highways will suffice and no tolling is needed, along with highlighting an effort with a separate banner to recall a pro-toll city councilwoman.....

That hearing had just been held—with the judge promising a decision soon—when TURF responded to claims that the TTC is “dead.” ....

It’s clear from the TxDOT director’s speech, that it’s only a name change and the Trans Texas Corridor is, in reality, “going underground,” Ms. Hall added, noting that just about every news source in ....Texas.... indicates this sobering reality. ....

For instance, the Austin American Statesman, while noting the TTC will be broken up into smaller projects, noted that those smaller projects “will apparently include the 300-plus miles of what has been called TTC-35 from ..San Antonio.. to the ..Oklahoma.. border and the I-69 project from the ..Rio Grande.. ..Valley.. to ..Texarkana.. [near ....Arkansas....]. But they will not be called the Trans Texas Corridor.”....

Hall pointed to a San Antonio Express-News piece that noted: Other than backpedaling from the Trans Texas Corridor brand, and the goals and priorities set over the years, the Trans Texas Corridor remains intact. TxDOT still plans to partner with private corporations to build and lease projects. Toll roads, truck-only lanes and rail lanes are also still on the table. Environmental studies for the I-35 and ..East Texas.. corridor segments still chug through the pipeline. And a development contract with Cintra of Spain and Zachry Construction Co. of San Antonio, for projects paralleling I-35, is still valid.”....

“The renewed effort now will operate under the name ‘Innovative Connectivity Plan,’ ” the ....Houston.... Chronicle noted. ....

Ms. Hall added: “No law has been changed, no minute order rescinded, no environmental document re-done (as is required by federal law), and there are still two contracts signed giving two Spanish companies the right of first refusal on segments of the corridor previously known as TTC-35 and TTC-69. So by every real measure, the Trans Texas Corridor goes on full steam ahead. What [this] hype was about is a political ploy to make the public go back to sleep while it gets built under a different name. While we welcome genuine responsiveness from TxDOT and a true repeal of the Trans Texas Corridor, this hardly qualifies.”....

TURF agrees with Texas State Sen. Robert Nichols’s recent statement in the Dallas Morning News: “If it is just a name change, and nothing more, I don’t think that is going to do much to appease lawmakers,” said Nichols, R-Jacksonville.....

For more information call TURF at (210) 275-0640; EMAIL: terri@texasturf.org. The website is www.TexasTURF.org

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