COMMENTS & TESTIMONY
DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT
TTC-35 PUBLIC HEARING
DAVID K. STALL
JULY 27, 2006
My name is David Stall and I am commenting on behalf the more than
5,000 members of CorridorWatch.org who live and/or own land in 186
Texas counties including all 38 counties within the preferred
corridor and reasonable corridor alternates for TTC-35 the subject
of this Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
In establishing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) the
Congress of the United States recognized the profound impact of
man's activity on the natural environment. In particular they
noted the profound influences of population growth and industrial
expansion. They further recognized the critical importance of
maintaining environmental quality to the overall welfare and
development of man. In NEPA they declared a policy of cooperation
between Federal, State and local governments, and other concerned
public and private organizations, to use all practicable means and
measures to foster and promote the general welfare, to create and
maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in
productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic, and other
requirements of present and future generations of Americans.
This DEIS is not just for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA),
it’s also for the citizens of Texas and their elected officials
who are entitled to consider the environmental effects of both the
proposal and alternatives.
TIER ONE DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT COMMENTS
We are told by the state that the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) is in
response to projected population growth and industrial expansion.
We question however if it is the right answer in light of our
individual community needs and our national environmental policy.
Duty to Alert and Inform
TxDOT has failed its NEPA mandate to alert and inform the public
of potential adverse environmental consequences of their planned
actions. TxDOT has failed to emphasize environmental issues and
alternatives. The procedural duties imposed by NEPA are not being
carried out to the fullest extent possible.
Instead of informing the public of possible environmental
consequences, TxDOT is bombarding the public in a marketing effort
designed not to educate, but rather to sell the TTC. Any and all
critical observations are argued and discounted out-of-hand
without due and proper consideration. Ask those, like the
thousands of CorridorWatch.org members, who have attended TxDOT
TTC meetings and you, will discover the overwhelming experience is
one of pacification, not honest discourse.
critical observation of the TTC is allowed to stand without TxDOT
rebuttal. By example, when the Texas Farm Bureau expressed concern
at the width of the corridor to House Transportation Committee
Chairman Representative Mike Krusee, he publicly asked TxDOT
Executive Director Michael Behrens if there was anything in the
agreement with Cintra that says the corridor is 1,200-feet wide.
Behrens responded no, that there wasn’t anything in the agreement
that said the corridor would be 1,200-feet wide. This is a good
example of the lengths TxDOT will go to in their disingenuous
effort to spin every criticism in a positive direction. As we all
know, literally thousands of TxDOT documents, including this DEIS,
consistently describe the TTC as up to 1,200 feet in width. In
fact, Cintra submitted their proposal based on a TxDOT provided
Implementation Plan that describes the TTC as 1,000 to 1,200 feet
wide. Why does the Executive Director of TxDOT disguise the truth
and intentionally mislead the public?
Open Discussion and Planning
Discussion is one of the most important ingredients of an EIS. Yet
the TTC-35 proposal has never been the subject of meaningful
public discussion or debate. And, that’s exactly how Governor
Perry wanted it.
According to Texas Transportation Commission (TxTC) Chairman Ric
Williamson it was the express intent of the Governor to remove the
TTC from the political flow of the state and make it policy.
For that reason Williamson said the Governor asked the TxTC and
TxDOT to move fast. Following direction from the Governor, the
TxTC forcefully stifled any discussion of the merits or
consequences of the TTC and pressed for quick legislative
authority to execute their plan. That plan, was setout is the
Crossroads of the Americas: Trans Texas Corridor Plan and was
adopted by the TxTC in June 2002 without debate or any substantive
Incredibly, for four years the Plan TxDOT drafted, and the TxTC
unilaterally adopted, remains absolutely unchanged. Meanwhile
unsolicited comments, suggestions and alternatives from elected
officials, metropolitan planning organizations, cities, counties,
civic groups and citizens who are not in lock-step agreement with
the TxDOT TTC ‘vision’ find their input unwelcome.
Today the TTC plan remains unchanged since its adoption and serves
as the Implementation Plan for TTC-35.
Commissioner Williamson testified before the House Transportation
Committee that the Governor was interested in changing the way we
look at transportation planning and execution. He acknowledged
that local transportation leaders were intentionally not consulted
in developing the corridor plan adopted a year earlier.
Today we can see the impact of that change.
The change in planning and execution instituted by Governor Perry
and Chairman Williamson was described in an editorial that
appeared in the Fort Worth Star Telegram on June 18, 2006. Fort
Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief wrote, “TxDOT's understanding of the new
CDA approach to road building is that local branches of government
and the Legislature are no longer part of the process. According
to the TxDOT view, once an agreement is made with a private
partner, TxDOT and the provider alone are empowered to makes
decisions concerning road alignments. This is a staggering change
from the way we have historically made these decisions. These
projects are too important to not allow the citizens to
participate through their various voices in government.” Mayor
Moncrief who was formerly a state senator and Tarrant County Judge
was describing his experience with TxDOT and TTC-35.
Mayor Moncrief’s editorial followed the May 24, 2006, statement by
TxTC Chairman Williamson who said, “If
you aggressively invite the private sector to be your partner, you
can't tell them where to build the road."
The staggering changes in TxDOT planning and execution have not
been limited to deciding alignments.
Under the leadership and direction of the TxTC TxDOT has failed
the NEPA mandate of a careful and informed decisionmaking process
conducted fully and in good faith.
Rather than sharing information and collaborating with regional
and local transportation officials TxDOT has been publicly and
officially instructed to sever communications and cooperation with
those who the Chairman has identified as, “working at
Communities, community leaders, and organizations are publicly
chastised and rebuked for daring to advance the consideration of
any alternative to the singular plan advanced by the Governor and
his appointees on the TxTC.
During a meeting of the TxTC on November 18, 2004, Chairman Ric
Williamson inquired of TxDOT Deputy Executive Director Steve
Simmons about the River of Trade Corridor Coalition (ROTCC).
Williamson asked, “And what seems to be their point?” Simmons
answered, “Well, the issue at hand is they're concerned that the
industry and businesses along the existing I-35 corridor will be
impacted severely with a new alignment away from I-35.” To which
Williamson responded, “That's reason enough to not choose a
developer and move along, is that their argument?” “I think that
they believe that the first option should be to consider expanding
I-35 and that the corridor should come second,” said Simmons.
CorridorWatch.org believes that the concerns and input advanced by
the ROTCC deserve proper consideration as one of the TTC-35
Delay of a project is not sufficient reason to reduce or eliminate
consideration of alternatives and environmental factors under NEPA.
A certain amount of delay is inherent in achieving compliance. It
is far more consistent with the purposes of NEPA to delay action
at a point when meaningful environmental protection may be
accomplished than to proceed to a point where corrective action
may be so costly as to be impossible.
With a line of questioning that smacked of a witch-hunt,
Williamson wanted to know who was behind the ROTCC and what other
members had joined that effort. Williamson belittled community
concerns about protecting their investments, businesses and
industries along the existing IH-35 corridor. He summed up their
concern as being about their gas stations and as being at cross
purposes with the TxTC and TxDOT.
Chairman Williamson took the opportunity to express his personal
displeasure with Dallas City Councilwoman Sandy Greyson, David
Dean, Dean International and anyone else who participates in the
Chairman Williamson then directed TxDOT management that they were
not to provide any further assistance or resources to Dean
International or any organization that associates with Dean
International including the ROTCC, High Speed Rail, and TEX-21
without first checking for his approval.
At the close of the TTC-35 discussion Williamson reinforced his
lack of patience with groups who oppose the TxDOT TTC-35 plan. He
listed a few 'arguments' he considered legitimate and
distinguished them from others he considered deliberate
misinformation or deliberate opposition to advance some
unidentified individual's political agenda. Williamson continued
and expressed his lack of patience for those groups he described
as "ad hoc, spur of the moment, last minute" that "spring up for
no reason other than, got to find a way to make a buck and scare
CorridorWatch.org believes that elected officials should be given
greater voice in the process as representatives of their
constituents, not be abused for failing to agree with the TxTC.
The City of Dallas, or any other Texas community, is not only
entitled but has a responsibility to represent the concerns and
issues that effect their jurisdictions. That representation is
often in the form of a paid advocate such as Dean International.
It is entirely inappropriate that the TxTC be intolerant of honest
opinions that differ from their own. It is unacceptable that this
Commission acts to retaliate against communities, organizations or
their advocate because they seek to organize in opposition to a
plan that is itself a matter of public debate.
Chairman Williamson says that he will not tolerate the kind of ad
hoc input that this very process is designed to solicit. The
intent is transparent and the message is loud and clear – sit down
and shut up.
Alternatives such as those advanced by the ROTCC and others cannot
be disregard merely because they do not offer a complete solution
to the problem.
NEPA should ensure that the public is informed that TxDOT has
considered environmental concerns in its decisionmaking process.
TxDOT has a duty to provide the public with comprehensive
information regarding the environmental consequences of a proposed
action so that they may participate effectively.
Through their actions the TxTC has rejected their duty and
responsibility under the Act. Their actions have nullified the
protections that the citizens of Texas are entitled to receive
under state and federal law.
Well documented actions by TxDOT to quell unwelcome input and
comment on TTC-35 makes a mockery of the NEPA environmental impact
The retaliation is swift and the message is clear.
CorridorWatch.org is stunned at the threats and coercion cast upon
public officials who suggest anything other than the predefined
program. Despotism has become the new management culture at TxDOT.
TxDOT has not made an earnest effort to fully disclose and discuss
all major points of view on the environmental impacts of the
alternatives, and particularly not the proposed action. The basis
for choice is obscured and the options presented to the public are
On March 11, 2006, TxDOT entered into formal agreement with Cintra
Zachry for a master development and financial plan to include
road, rail, and utility projects for the entire proposed 600-mile
length of TTC-35. That agreement also contains approximately 200
pages of design and financial details that likely contain
significant, substantive and relevant factors to be considered in
evaluating the environmental impact of this proposed action. Since
March 11, 2006, TxDOT and Cintra Zachry have refused to disclose
the full contents of this development agreement. On May 31, 2006,
the Texas Attorney General issued a ruling that declared the
agreement to be a public document not protected from disclosure.
Despite that ruling TxDOT and Cintra Zachry continue to keep the
design and finance portions of the agreement secret from the
Without full disclosure the public cannot be ensured that TxDOT
has considered environmental concerns in its decisionmaking
process or that the environmental impact decisions reached are not
arbitrary and capricious. Absent full disclosure of all relevant
project factors it is impossible to draw a rational connection
between facts to be found and the choice to be made.
The intentional omission of and secrecy of TTC-35 project design
details contained in the Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA)
thwart the possibility of a reasonably complete discussion of the
project and possible mitigation measures. Without that information
and subsequent discussion the public is unable to adequately
evaluate the severity of potential adverse effects. Such omission
undermines the “action-forcing” function of Act.
It is particularly significant that the details of the CDA are
being kept secret when Chairman Williamson describes a primary
purpose of the CDA process is that a developer will bring finance,
design, construct and operate concepts that for TxDOT to otherwise
take advantage of would be illegal.
That is how Chairman Williamson defined innovation. Such potential
deviations from the norm in finance, design, construct and operate
concepts makes evaluation without specific information impossible.
Before the public can comment adequately on the draft statement’s
analysis of effects there need to be a full disclosure of the
project, specifically its proposed design and development details
contained in the CDA.
Such obscuration is contrary to NEPA’s manifest concern of
preventing uninformed action. Accordingly, this draft statement is
so inadequate that it precludes meaningful analysis and certainly
does not fulfill and satisfy to the fullest extent possible the
requirements established for final statements in section 102(2)(C)
of the Act as required by regulation.
This DEIS is incomplete and these hearings are unable to provide
the public an opportunity to comment on pre-established
development and design features known to TxDOT and kept secret
from the public and other interested parties.
TxDOT has failed to make those underlying documents available to
the public. TxDOT has not provided early nor meaningful public
participation in the decision making process. To the contrary,
TxTC has diligently and aggressively discouraged and rejected
public involvement in the decision making process.
The TxTC has created a climate of fear and intimidation that may
make it impossible to know what additional comments, input, or
alternatives have been withheld for fear of reprisal. Accordingly,
the level and nature of the interference by the TxTC has made it
impossible for TxDOT to comply with NEPA and CEQ regulations.
SUMMARY / CONCLUSION
Based on the information contained in the Tier One DEIS together
with the information available to the public the selected decision
should be the No Action Alternative.
For the reasons set forth herein CorridorWatch.org, on behalf is
its members and the citizens of the State of Texas, respectfully
ask that the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)
voluntarily agree that this Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)
is inadequate for proper and required public involvement; that the
Texas Transportation Commission be cautioned against continued or
future actions contrary to their duties, obligations and
responsibilities under NEPA; that TxDOT voluntarily revise this
DEIS to fulfill and satisfy to the fullest extent possible the
requirements established by regulation; that TxDOT voluntarily
reconsider additional alternatives; and, that following FHWA
approval of a revised DEIS the complete and entire Tier One public
hearing process be repeated anew to afford the public and
decisionmakers an opportunity to accomplish meaningful analysis
with the newly disclosed information and incorporated
In the event TxDOT fails to willingly and voluntary take those
actions respectfully requested above, CorridorWatch.org, for the
reasons set forth herein, respectfully asks on behalf is its
members and the citizens of the State of Texas, that the Federal
Highway Administration (FHWA) find this Draft Environmental Impact
Statement (DEIS) inadequate for proper and required public
involvement; that the Texas Transportation Commission be cautioned
against continued or future actions contrary to their duties,
obligations and responsibilities under NEPA; that the Texas
Department of Transportation (TxDOT) be instructed to revise such
DEIS to fulfill and satisfy to the fullest extent possible the
requirements established by regulation; that TxDOT be instructed
to reconsider additional alternatives; and, that following FHWA
approval of a revised DEIS that TxDOT be instructed that the
complete and entire Tier One public hearing process be repeated
anew to afford the public and decisionmakers an opportunity to
accomplish meaningful analysis with the newly disclosed
information and incorporated alternatives.
CorridorWatch.org respectfully requests that the comments and
requests made herein in reference to the Tier One DEIS for TTC-35
be responded to in writing; and, that each comment and request be
responded to and addressed individually on its own merits.
The mailing address for purposes of reply to CorridorWatch.org is:
CorridorWatch.org, Fayetteville, TX 78940-5468.
SUBMITTED, For Your Consideration,
/ Signed /
David K. Stall
On Behalf of:
Fayetteville, TX 78940-5468
July 27, 2006