River of Trade Corridor Coalition

River of Trade Corridor Coalition - Consensus Statement

River of Trade Corridor Coalition - Objectives

River of Trade Corridor Coalition - Position Statement

Texas Transportation Commission November 18, 2004 Reaction to ROTCC

CorridorWatch.org Statement in Response to November 18, 2004 Commission Meeting

The City of Dallas in conjunction with other cities, counties and organizations have created the River of Trade Corridor Coalition (ROTCC) to protect the traditional NAFTA trade corridor across Texas. A consensus of intent and objectives were identified at their organizational meeting in Dallas on September 16, 2004.

This organization has formed in response to the state's Trans-Texas Corridor Plan, a plan to divert NAFTA trade traffic away from existing Interstate Highways. These communities, like CorridorWatch.org, believe that the Trans Texas Corridor plan will impact millions of Texans, threaten tens of thousands of companies, risk hundreds of thousands of jobs, and result in billions of dollars in lost tax revenue.

 

River of Trade Corridor Coalition - Consensus Statement

It is the consensus of the River of Trade Corridor Coalition (ROTCC) that an initiative be launched to unify all entitles interested in preserving the trade industry's use of the historic and traditional Texas NAFTA trade corridor (the Corridor).

The Corridor Is defined as the route running from the Texas-Mexico border in Laredo / Webb County north along IH-35 to the intersection at IH-35E in Hill County, then northeasterly to the Intersection at IH-20 in Dallas County, then east to the intersection at IH-635, then north to the intersection at IH-30, then northeasterly to Its terminus in Texarkana / Bowie County at the Texas -Arkansas border.

This initiative includes strategies to increase public awareness of today's urgent Corridor-related issues facing approximately 10 million people who live and work in the 61 counties along the existing Corridor and whose economies are dependent upon the millions of dollars per year in revenue generated along this route by the trade industry; create a Texas State Legislative and U.S. Congressional caucus to work with the coalition and protect the interest of communities along the Corridor; and to work with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and other departments of the Texas State government to develop a NAFTA trade corridor plan which supports the historic and traditional Corridor.
 

 

River of Trade Corridor Coalition - Objectives

  • To protect the historic and traditional NAFTA trade corridor in Texas.
     

  • To create a coalition of all cities, counties and organizations, which would be impacted, should the traditional NAFTA corridor be changed.
     

  • To increase public awareness of the Trans-Texas Corridor plan and its potential impact on communities along the historic NAFTA trade corridor.
     

  • To create a Texas State Legislative caucus to work with the coalition and support the traditional NAFTA trade corridor.
     

  • To create a U.S. Congressional caucus to work with the coalition and protect the interest of communities along the traditional NAFTA trade corridor.
     

  • To work with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and other departments of the Texas State government to develop a NAFTA trade corridor plan which supports the historic and traditional NAFTA trade corridor.

 

River of Trade Corridor Coalition - Position Statement

As a member of the River of Trade Corridor Coalition, and on behalf of my organization, I want to register my direct and strong opposition to the development of any alternative highway or transportation system that would divert vehicular traffic from and thereby threaten the traditional and historic NAFTA trade route through Texas. Such a diversion would directly threaten tens of thousands of small, medium-sized and large businesses and the hundreds of thousands of Texas jobs that they have created to service this well-established International and domestic trade corridor.

The predominant, traditional and historic NAFTA trade route extends north along IH-35 from Laredo to San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Hillsboro and northeast through southern Dallas County along IH-20, then north along IH-635 to the intersection with Interstate 30 and then northeast along Interstate 30 to Texarkana and the same in reverse.

I stand firmly opposed to an alternative route based upon the following reasons:

  • Every City and County along the traditional NAFTA trade corridor in Texas has invested millions (multiple billions collectively) of dollars in bonds and other Financings and direct expenditures to support commerce generated by this historic trade corridor. Streets, hospitals, and schools have been built based upon the projected tax revenues generated by traffic, trade and commerce along the corridor.
     

  • Tens of thousands of corporations and small businesses have been developed along the historic NAFTA trade route. The livelihood of these businesses and their hundreds of thousands of employees depends upon the traffic traveling this traditional corridor.
     

  • Businesses operating along this traditional NAFTA trade route and their employees have made billions of dollars of private Investments along this route. These businesses and their employees are the life-blood of every community located along this route and within the State of Texas.
     

  • Development of an alternative transportation corridor will negatively impact thousands of acres of productive, taxable land and thousands of area residents. On the other hand, improving the existing NAFTA trade corridor will utilize existing state and local assets and disrupt few if any residents or businesses.
     

  • Many of us have spent years and Incalculable time and effort to develop the NAFTA River of Trade from Laredo to Texarkana via San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas as a premier economic engine, one of the most successful economic engines in the state and country. Redirecting the very traffic and trade commerce that we have worked so hard to create without close collaboration with local governments and taxing authorities who are charged by federal and state law and local charters with providing services such as education, etc... is not only inappropriate but unconscionable.
     

  • Other factors which also bear serious consideration include: the impact on land values along the existing NAFTA corridor, the loss of sales tax revenues, the diversion of assets and resources which could be used to maintain and improve the existing NAFTA corridor, and the impact that urban sprawl will have upon the areas where the new Trans-Texas Corridor will be located.

Based upon these and many other factors, I strongly oppose the pursuit of any alternative highway / transportation route, including the one under consideration by TxDOT that would divert traffic and commerce and thereby adversely impact the traditional and historic NAFTA Trade Corridor as above defined. I heartily endorse the improvement of the existing NAFTA Trade Corridor and the improvement of the interstate highway system already in existence today. I respectfully request that the State of Texas cease any further expenditure of State resources on development of the TTC-35 until such time as it can be authoritatively and independently demonstrated that said new corridor will not have an adverse impact on the economies, commerce and economic health and vitality of the cities and counties now located along the traditional and historic NAFTA Trade Corridor.

I appreciate your time and your consideration of these factors as you plan future transportation systems for the State of Texas.

Note: The first sentence of this Position Statement has been edited by CorridorWatch.org. As shown above it accurately reflects the content of a form letter circulated by the River of Trade Corridor Coalition to its members. The Position Statement may have been modified from this original form by individual member organizations to more accurately reflect their specific concerns and/or issues. CorridorWatch.org does not represent that any organization has adopted the Position Statement exactly as it appears here above. Please contact individual ROTCC members to obtain their Resolution or statement of position.

CLICK HERE To Learn More About How The TTC Is Different Than An Interstate Highway

 
Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson
reacts to the
River of Trade Corridor Coalition
at the
November 18, 2004 Transportation Commission Meeting

During Discussion Item (#8), "Status report on the evaluation of detailed proposals relating to the Trans-Texas Corridor 35 project (TTC-35)" Chairman Williamson took the opportunity to express his displeasure with Dallas City Councilwoman Sandy Greyson, David Dean, Dean International and anyone else who participates in the River of Trade Corridor Coalition. [citation]

Hear Williamson's Remarks #1
162KB - MP3 - 1:32

With a line of questioning that smacked of a witch hunt, Williamson wanted to know who was behind the River of Trade Corridor Coalition 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 at cross purposes with the Commission and TxDOT. [citation]

Williamson directed TxDOT staff that they were not to provide any further assistance to Dean International or any organization that associates with Dean International (including the River of Trade Corridor Coalition, High Speed Rail, and TEX-21) without first checking for his approval. [citation]

Hear Williamson's Remarks #2
469KB - MP3 - 4:00

At the close of the TTC-35 discussion Williamson reinforced his lack of patience with group 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 to express 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 people." [citation]

Hear Williamson's Remarks #3
254KB - MP3 - 2:10

 

Download Complete Discussion Item
5.87MB - MP3 - 51:21

 

UPDATE

As of 2005 TxDOT has withdrawn its support, sponsorship, and participation in the Texas Transportation Summit hosted by the City of Irving, Texas. The TTS continues to be the largest and best established transportation forum in the state. In 2006 TxDOT created its own program, The Texas Transportation Forum.

 

CorridorWatch.org Statement

It is the position of CorridorWatch.org that Chairman Williamson's comments and actions on November 18, 2004, serve to discourage public participation and input in the state's transportation policy development. We are distressed by the disregard for differing opinions.

Elected officials should be given greater voice in the process as representatives of their constituents, not challenged for failing to agree with the Commission. 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 an advocate such as Dean International.

It is inappropriate that the Transportation Commission should 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 discourse.

The Commission may be in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act when such action serves to quell public input at the very time the agency is conducting a process that requires them to seek public input. At minimum it demonstrates that opposing viewpoints and opinions are unwelcome unless declared 'legitimate' by Chairman Williamson.

 

 

 

Texas Transportation Commission Meeting
November 18, 2004

[ Transcript Excerpts ]

Excerpt #1 [full text]

R. WILLIAMSON: And right now the corridor swath is wide, the potential routes within the study we're making is very wide. Does the corridor swath go all the way over to the edge of, for example, the city of Waco?

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, sir, east and west, I believe.

MR. WILLIAMSON: And the edge of the city of Temple?

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, sir.

MR. WILLIAMSON: And the edge of the city of Dallas? So if I had a Dallas City Council member such as Sandy Grayson alleging that the corridor will divert traffic away from Dallas, that would be an inaccurate statement?

MR. RUSSELL: The decision hasn't been made yet, the alignment is being selected.

MR. WILLIAMSON: The route could be right up to Senator Royce West's backyard.

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, sir, it could.

MR. WILLIAMSON: And it could be right through Senator Kip Averitt's farm, and it could be right at the edge of the city of Temple, and it could be no further than State Highway 130 is to Austin right now.

MR. RUSSELL: The only preclusions, Chairman, that we've gotten so far, there are certain environmental issues that we've considered to be hands-off, and so if you look at the second iteration that we're going out in public meetings now, you can see that the potential corridors have been snaked through there to miss certain environmentally sensitive issues.

But beyond that, pretty much everything is still on the table.

MR. WILLIAMSON: So an allegation at this point in time that this corridor is going to divert trade away from the traditional, and I see it's now become historic, NAFTA trade route, might be a bit of a stretch.

MR. RUSSELL: Premature.

MR. WILLIAMSON: Might be premature.

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, sir.

 

Excerpt #2 [full text]

MR. WILLIAMSON: Next slide. Steve Simmons, please.

Are you familiar with an organization known as the River of Trade Coalition?

MR. SIMMONS: I've seen some correspondence utilizing that term, yes, sir.

MR. WILLIAMSON: Who is that, or to paraphrase that famous line in the Butch Cassidy film, who are those guys?

MR. SIMMONS: Well, I believe it's headed up by the City of Dallas at the time with some help from, I believe, David Dean or Dean International.

MR. WILLIAMSON: David Dean.

MR. SIMMONS: I believe that is correct.

MR. WILLIAMSON: That's the fellow that spearheads the TEX-21 organization?

MR. SIMMONS: Yes, sir.

MR. WILLIAMSON: Did he use to be associated with the Historically Underutilized I-35 NAFTA Trade Route Coalition, or whatever they were called?

MR. SIMMONS: I believe so, yes, sir.

MR. WILLIAMSON: Whatever happened to that group?

MR. SIMMONS: I think they're still in existence.

MR. WILLIAMSON: Does he still represent them?

MR. SIMMONS: I do not think so; I don't believe that he does.

MR. WILLIAMSON: And what seems to be their point?

MR. SIMMONS: 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.

MR. WILLIAMSON: That's reason enough to not choose a developer and move along, is that their argument?

MR. SIMMONS: I think that they believe that the first option should be to consider expanding I-35 and that the corridor should come second.

MR. WILLIAMSON: Now, is Dean the same guy that also promotes that railroad, the T-Bone, the high speed rail?

MR. SIMMONS: The high speed rail, yes, sir.

MR. WILLIAMSON: How many different hats does he wear in distributing the public's money?

MR. SIMMONS: I'm not aware of everything that Dean International is involved in.

MR. WILLIAMSON: Do we participate financially in TEX-21?

MR. SIMMONS: No, sir.

MR. WILLIAMSON: We just go to all their meetings?

MR. SIMMONS: We are resources for them to provide information about issues that are pertinent to the department and transportation in particular.

MR. WILLIAMSON: I've seen some awful -- I don't want to say inflammatory but certainly misleading statements originating from those folks, and I'm a little bit concerned.

Is there anyone else besides the City of Dallas?

MR. SIMMONS: Well, they're attempting to bring the issue up to all the cities and counties along the I-35 corridor, so I'm sure that there will be others that will be coming along.

MR. WILLIAMSON: But no other members that we know of besides the City of Dallas?

MR. SIMMONS: Not that I'm aware of, no, sir.

MR. WILLIAMSON: Well, I know that you're the person in the department that arranges for things such as TEX-21 and our participation and such. I've got to tell you, and I only speak for myself in this matter, the other commissioners can certainly overrule me, but I'm a little bit hesitant to spend any more time with those guys if they're headed up by the same guy that's in the business of organizing cities to stand firmly opposed to the alternative route, because every city along the traditional -- which has now become traditional historic NAFTA trade corridor has invested millions in their own commerce.

And I don't see anything in here about trucks running over people on I-35, I don't see anything in here about developing a rail system to divert traffic off our highways; they just seem to be concerned about, I guess, their gas stations.

Why don't you check with me before we agree to participate in any more of their stuff. It looks like we might operate at cross purposes.

MR. SIMMONS: Yes, sir. I understand your intentions.

MR. WILLIAMSON: Thank you, sir.

Excerpt #3 [full text]

MR. WILLIAMSON: Phillip and Steve and Amadeo, and for all those who watch, I don't want to confuse my direct words about these groups.

It is legitimate to say I'm opposed to building a highway in green space, because it takes taxable land off the tax rolls;, that's a legitimate argument, and a discussion and a debate we should have. It's legitimate to say I don't want to build any more highways over the Edwards Aquifer because I believe runoff is damaging the recharge; that's a legitimate argument and an argument and a debate Texans should have.

It's a legitimate argument to say I believe the price of oil and gas will drive us away from the internal combustion machine in the next 20 years, you'll never pay the debt off, don't make the decision; that's a legitimate argument to have.

This governor and the legislature and this commission, we are not fearful of having legitimate discussions, debate and arguments about decisions that have to be made. And as I've said many times before, we've actually learned some things from some of the anti-corridor folks. And we've gone back and kind of re-thought how big the corridor needs to be, and maybe it's not going to be as big as we once thought.

I distinguish, Steve, that from deliberate misinformation, deliberate opposition to advance someone else's political agenda and keep them protected. That's completely different and there's no room for that in this. We have some important and difficult decisions that have to be made about the future of this state. Their arguments should be about things that are truly in the realm of public policy.

And that's what I want all three of you to convey to those folks. I don't have any patience for ad hoc, spur of the moment, last minute groups that spring up for no reason other than we've got to find a way to make a buck and scare people. I don't have any patience for that, and I don't have any patience for people who participate in that.

 

 

This Page Last Updated: Thursday December 14, 2006

CorridorWatch.org
2004 Linda Stall - All Rights Reserved.