Join Our Mailing List
Email:
See Our Current Newsletter

 

Lou Dobbs revisits the TTC NAFTA Superhighway

5/28/2008 — CNN's Lou Dobbs and Bill Tucker dispel the the Trans Texas Corridor superhighway myth. [VIDEO]


TxDOT prepares for construction of TTC-35

3/2/2008 — TxDOT is advertising for a contractor to supervise TTC-35 engineers and facility developers and perform a wide array of services relating to: procurement, contracting, planning, design, construction management, maintenance, or operations of multi-modal corridors. [NOTICE]


Lou Dobbs puts spotlight on the TTC NAFTA Superhighway

2/19/2008 — CNN's Lou Dobbs and Bill Tucker discuss the Trans Texas Corridor. [VIDEO]

2/20/2008 — Lou Dobbs and Bill Tucker continue their look at opposition to the Trans Texas Corridor. [VIDEO]



FREE STICKERS!


Second Huntsville Meeting Attracts 800 & "Different" Tone

1/31/2008 — No question, there is strong opposition to TTC-69 in Walker County. The first Huntsville meeting was among those that Commissioner Houghton used as an example in later contentious meetings, like Hempstead, to say he didn't hear a negative tone from those town hall participants.  According to local news reports, Commissioner Houghton was unable to attend Wednesday's meeting. Too bad, he missed seeing another Texas community change its tone.

Huntsville
News Report

Kolkhorst:
There are other road options


TxDOT Begins Public Reeducation Effort

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has formally begun a massive public relations and  public reeducation effort in an aggressive and expensive attempt to stem the chorus of objections voiced thus far over the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC). MORE>>


Victoria Produces Another 1,000+ Full House

TUESDAY — Like other stops on the TxDOT town hall tour, it was hard to find anyone in Victoria supporting the TTC plan. Deputy Executive Director Steve Simmons was asked why Texans couldn't vote on the TTC. His answer was repeated throughout the evening, "the public hearings give you the opportunity to vote on the TTC." As 11pm approached they were still calling names out of about 100 concerned citizens who remained. Then they called CorridorWatch founder Linda Stall to the microphone. "Mr. Simmons," she started. "You say that the public hearings will be a vote on the TTC?," she continued before driving her point home. "How about the public hearings for TTC-35, how did that vote turn out?" For the record she described the outcome as about 14,000 opposed and 9 for the TTC. Seriously, those numbers are pretty close. That lopsided result led Ric Williamson to tell the press, "The purpose of the public hearings is not to take a poll or survey or to estimate the supporters or detractors." Despite the bluster and brash rebuttal, CorridorWatch is preparing to force the issue at the federal level to ensure the public hearings are given the proper weight and consideration required under the law. The result may not be the outcome TxDOT is trying desperately to champion.

Victoria News Report
& Video


100,000 Hits Knock CorridorWatch.org Off The Internet

Visitors to our website generated 99,782 hits and downloaded 4.4GB of data during a single 24 hour period ending in the early morning of January 29, 2008. "They rang our bell," said David Stall who maintains the website. The result was four hours of down time effecting the website and e-mail system until 6am Tuesday morning. Stall says Houghton's NAFTA video created the bandwidth spike that led to the disruption. To solve the problem we have both increased our capacity and moved the popular Houghton video to YouTube. [video]


More Than 1,000 Pack Austin County Meeting in Bellville

Week two of TxDOT's town hall meetings starts with a bang! Over 1,000 show up to ask questions and let TxDOT know that they don't need or want the TTC. It's another late night for TxDOT, this time without a member of the Transportation Commission in attendance.


CorridorWatch.org Testifies Before Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee

On Tuesday, August 7, 2007, David Stall joined a panel testifying on infrastructure issues in Irving, Texas. You can read his testimony [HERE]


Governor Perry Vetoes TTC-35 Moratorium Bill HB1892

On Friday, May 18, 2007, the last day to do so, Governor Perry vetoed a bill that would have placed significant limitations on future Trans Texas Corridor projects and granted more authority to local road agencies.

MORE>>


Senator Hutchison Expresses Concern Over FWHA Letter To TxDOT

In a letter to the Federal Highway Administrator U.S. Senator Hutchinson expresses concern that the FHWA has crossed the line between technical guidance and advocacy.

The Senator says it is imperative that steps be taken to remove the cloud over the actions of the Texas Legislature.

LETTER>>


CDA Moratorium Bill Is Unanimously Approved by Senate Committee

HB1892 is on the way to a vote by the full Senate with the committee's unanimous recommendation that it be passed.

MORE>>


TxDOT thumbs it's nose at Legislature

Like a defiant child stuffing candy into their mouth after being told that maybe they've had enough, TxDOT rushes to sign 50-year contracts that the legislature has begun calling into question.

MORE>>


Sen. Nichols objects to toll road monopoly that enriches shareholders and leaves the taxpayer holding the bag.

State Senator Nichols, restates and strengthens his objection to the state's private partner toll road policy.

MORE>>


We would forfeit billions with private partnership on 121

So says Jere Thompson Jr. a former chairman of the North Texas Turnpike Authority and its predecessor, the Texas Turnpike Authority now serving as the Transportation Chairman for the Dallas Citizens Council and the Trinity Commons Foundation.

MORE>>


Senator Nichols Explains the Good, Bad & Ugly

Former Transportation Commissioner, now Senator Nichols, explains why the Legislature should put a 2-year hold on private toll road agreements.

MORE>>


 

 

Senate Finance Chairman Ogden Says Legislature Should Rein In TxDOT

Senator Ogden openly questions turning state highways over to private contractors; tolling highways that have been paid for; and blames TxDOT for creating controversy that is taking a political toll on the legislature.

MORE>>


State Auditor's Office Releases Report on TxDOT & TTC-35 Finding Project Could Cost More Than $105 Billion

Auditor's review reveals potential flaws in account practices and says contracts longer than 4 years or valued at more than $250 million should be reviewed and approved by the Attorney General. 

Based on the Auditor's numbers CorridorWatch finds cost of four priority corridors will exceed $754 billion.

MORE>>


Senator Eltife Tells TxTC Nominees That He Thinks We've Created a Monster in TxDOT

During the Senate Nominations Committee hearing with two nominees to the Texas Transportation Commission, Vice-Chair Eltife called into question the direction that TxDOT is going with toll roads, concession agreements and privatization.

MORE>>


TxTC Chairman Williamson Snubs Chairman Carona

The continued refusal of Senator Carona's request for a meeting led to a House Committee joust with Williamson. Before it was over Carona called it tragic that a disagreement with Williamson's view would result with his unwillingness to meet with the Chair.

MORE>>


National Coalition Formed to Oppose Privatization of Toll Roads

New coalition of highway user groups will combat the growing trend toward the privatization or leasing of toll facilities to private investors.

Group to hold government accountable for ensuring financing is transparent, motivated by public good and dedicated to transportation purposes.

MORE>>


Assemblyman Questions Role of Goldman Sachs, MIG & Cintra

Concern raised about privatization advisors with a vested interest.

MORE>>


Bexar County Commissioner Alleges State Transportation Officials Sought to Punish Local Officials for Vote Against Tolls

SAN ANTONIO — Tommy Adkinsson sent a letter to Governor Perry to let him know intimidation of toll opponents by his appointees is unacceptable.


Promises Made To Investors

DUNCANVILLE — Texas Transportation Commission confirms private investors set rules for public safety agency use of public owned toll roads.


Senator says the TTC plan was a mistake

Chairman of Senate Transportation Committee calls for change in TxDOT's top leadership.


Seeing Gold at the End of the Privatized Road

"Thirty years from now, when they're charging exorbitant tolls and the adjacent roads are way over capacity, [motorists will] be looking for someone with pitchforks"


RPA: Proceed with Caution on Public-Private Partnerships

Report Identifies Steps to Protect Public Interest
Before Deals are Pursued on Turnpike, other Transportation Assets


TxDOT Charged with Extortion

HOUSTON – State Senator Jon Lindsay charges TxDOT with extortion; challenges sending Texas transportation revenues overseas; and denounces selling state highways as terrible public policy.


A Documentary Film


What Does That Mean?
Transportation Glossary

MORE>>


CLICK HERE FOR TTC MAPS
TTC MAPS



FT. WORTH The only thing bigger than the Trans-Texas Corridor may be the rebellion against it.



FREE STICKERS!


KEEP INFORMED

Join other CorridorWatch.org members in 199 Texas counties and subscribe to our newsletter.

CLICK HERE


TIME MAGAZINE ASKS...
CLICK HERE For Link To Time Magazine
[ CLICK HERE ]


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


TV NEWS VIDEO
[ CLICK HERE ]



Who Represents You?


TxDOT’s

Press Release
Misses the
"Reality" Mark

MORE>>



Rep. Joe Pickett

TxDOT
TRAMPLED
ON US

Six term Representative Joe Pickett (D-El Paso) is no newcomer to Texas transportation issues. He has served on the House Transportation Committee and is currently the Chairman of the Regional Transportation Policy Board in El Paso. On July 15, 2006, the Austin American-Statesman published a letter from Representative Pickett in which he charged the Texas Transportation Commission of trampling local transportation decisions and threatening to kill a pending project if the local authority didn't get in line.

MORE>>


TxDOT
Can’t Even Spell
Local Control

“Surprised and concerned leaders from San Antonio could only stand on the sidelines Thursday as state officials agreed to pursue a private bid to build and operate toll roads in Bexar County,” San Antonio Express-News.

MORE>>



"IF YOU AGGRESSIVELY INVITE THE PRIVATE SECTOR TO BE YOUR PARTNER,
YOU CAN'T TELL THEM WHERE TO BUILD THE ROAD"

MORE>>


Transportation Commissioner Confirms CorridorWatch Prediction

Only two weeks after CorridorWatch issued a bulletin to its membership expressing concern that the massive Wal-Mart purchase-lease land scheme in Chambers County would serve as the model for development along the length of the Trans-Texas Corridor that concern turned very real.

MORE>>



Who Represents You?


 

The Fayette County Commissioners Court goes on record in opposition to the building of the Trans Texas Corridor.

Resolution Unanimously Adopted May 24, 2004


Bumper Stickers
CLICK HERE to Get Your Bumper Stickers


Wharton County Commissioner's Court
opposes the Trans-Texas Corridor concept, and urges the Legislature to amend H.B. 3588 to allow further public input before implementing this plan.


Resolution Adopted September 13, 2004


CorridorWatch.org Submitted Three
TTC-35 Draft Environmental Impact Statement Comment Documents


CorridorWatch.org Files Complaint with the Federal Highway Administration charging that TxDOT is using a CDA to circumvent NEPA requirements.

MORE>>



Cintra Lobbyist With Ties To Governor Perry Offers TxDOT Officials and Key State Lawmakers a
4 Day, 3 Night,
All Expense Paid Trip to Canada.

MORE >>


Associated Press'
Fact Check Error

On October 15, 2006, the Associated Press released analysis of a Texas gubernatorial campaign ad, and erroneously stated that Spain-based Cintra holds a 65-percent equity position in Cintra Zachry LP. That's wrong.

MORE>>


Resolution Filed in U.S. Congress Objecting to NAFTA Superhighway System and Foreign Consortium Funding and Management.

MORE>>



Who Represents You?


Cintra's Inside Man: Dan Shelley

Cintra consultant turned Governor Perry's legislative aide, turned Cintra lobbyist. It's hard to keep up with who is working for who. Or is it?

Austin lobbyist Dan Shelley has been one of Governor Perry's aides and Cintra's inside man.

Shelley worked for Cintra making introductions to TxDOT just in time to see them get a winning proposal submitted for the Trans Texas Corridor. Then he worked for Governor Perry just in time to lobby the Legislature to protect and strengthen laws benefiting Cintra. Now he's back working for Cintra again planning all expense paid trips to Canada for TxDOT and Texas law makers.

MORE >>


US Senator Hutchison Agrees the TTC is a Flawed Project

MORE >>


HUNDREDS OF TEXANS ARE LOCKED OUT OF PUBLIC HEARING IN SAN ANTONIO

Apparently TxDOT didn't realize that San Antonio is the 2nd most populated city in Texas. In fact the Alamo city is. And TxDOT might take note that it is also the 7th most populated city in the entire United States. Really something we would have expected them to have already known.

Hundreds of Texans were unable to attend and participate in the TTC-35 DEIS Public Hearing held in a San Antonio high school on August 8, 2006. When the East Central High School Cafeteria reached it's 600 person capacity the doors were closed. Many of those left standing outside had driven great distances, some from as far away as Houston.

MORE >>


CorridorWatch.org Files Comment and Complaint at NEPA Tier One TTC-35 DEIS Public Hearing

During the July 27, 2006, Public Hearing in Dallas, Texas, David Stall presented oral comments and submitted written comments on behalf the members of CorridorWatch.org.

"TxDOT has failed its NEPA mandate to alert and inform the public of their planned actions."

"Under the leadership and direction of the Texas transportation commission TxDOT has failed the NEPA mandate of a careful and informed decision-making process conducted fully and in good faith."

MORE>>


TxDOT’s "Myth Versus Reality" Press Release Misses the Mark

On July 18, 2006, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) issued a press release titled, "Myth Versus Reality." A more accurate title might have been, "Myth Versus PR Response." What’s missing in large measure is the Reality.

CorridorWatch.org has prepared a reply to the list of eighteen ‘Myths’ provided by TxDOT.

MORE>>



TEXAS
DEMOCRATIC PARTY Objects to the Trans Texas Corridor and Addresses Eminent Domain Concerns in their 2006 Platform

"We oppose the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor ..."

MORE>>


TEXAS
REPUBLICAN PARTY Reaffirms Objection to the Trans Texas Corridor and Adds Eminent Domain and Toll Roads to the 2006 Party Platform

MORE>>


TEXAS
LIBERTARIAN PARTY Opposes the Trans Texas Corridor and Addresses Eminent Domain in Their 2006 Party Platform

MORE>>



Who Represents You?


US SUPREME COURT RULES GOVERNMENT CAN SEIZE YOUR PROPERTY FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

June 23, 2005, the Supreme Court abandons a long-held, basic limitation on government power.

The U.S. Supreme Court has greased the wheels of the Trans Texas Corridor.

MORE>>


"The number of courts authorized to hear eminent domain cases
should be expanded"
– Coby Chase, TxDOT Legislative Affairs Dir (November 18, 2004)

MORE>>


"If you look behind the surface you'll see that a lot of what we 'know' about privatization is mere puffery. Groups such as the Reason Foundation and the National Council for Public Private Partnerships (formerly the Privatization Council) have spent a lot of time and money convincing the public that privatization is better."

Ellen J. Dannin, Professor of Law,
Wayne State University Law School

MORE>>


SCORE: Taxpayers 0
Wal-Mart $2.8 Million

The State of Texas has gone into the land development business using powers and leverage only available to government. By doing so the State is now directly competing with private enterprise and violating the most fundamental principles of capitalism.

MORE>>


The Newest Oxymoron: Private Property Rights

Texas Representative Frank Corte of San Antonio issued a release saying, "The right to own and use property is inherent to a free society. When a government decides they know how to use private property better than the individual, private property rights cease to exist." CorridorWatch.org couldn't agree more.

MORE>>

 

Proposition 11 Merits Solid Support

Texas' constitutional amendment will provide another
important step towards protecting private property rights

October 20, 2009

Proposition 11 strikes back against the Supreme Court's 2005 Kelo v. City of New London ruling that private property can be taken by the government for the private benefit of another for economic development purposes or increasing tax revenue.

If passed, Proposition 11 would specifically prohibit the use of eminent domain power, "for the primary purpose of economic development or enhancement of tax revenue."

This was a very serious threat in the original Trans Texas Corridor plan. When that plan became law in 2003 it included the power to take land for ancillary facilities for the express purpose of generating revenue. Since then the legislature removed that sweeping authority. Proposition 11 would ensure that such power is never restored.

Incremental protection.

Additionally, Proposition 11 would restrict the expansion of eminent domain authority to more public or private entities; and, would limit excessive use of eminent domain to eliminate urban blight.  

Constitutional Amendments vs. Statute.

Constitutional amendment are (and should be) drawn in broad strokes. Details should be left to legislation and case law.  

Are more protections needed?

Absolutely.

Even if Proposition 11 passes, additional protections will be required to fully protect our private property rights. In 2007 the legislature overwhelmingly passed law (HB-2006) that would have provided much needed protection. Unfortunately, our Governor objected to granting those protections and vetoed that law.

What message will you send the Legislature? 

The votes cast FOR or AGAINST Proposition 11 will serve as an indicator of public interest in protecting private property rights.  

If the measure passes strongly it will signal a continued public demand for protection of private property. If the measure fails, it will signal a loss of public concern over private property rights.

Those of us who still want to see strong protections (like HB-2006) adopted into statute need Proposition 11 to pass by a large margin.


TxDOT Recommends the 
"No Build Alternative" for their TTC-35 FEIS

You might have seen the headline, but what exactly does that mean

October 9, 2009

Is the Trans-Texas Corridor dead?

No it is not dead. But it is mortally wounded and expected to die.

Criticism of the TTC has recently developed into a high profile campaign issue (again) making the timing of this “No Build Alternative” announcement highly suspect as being politically motivated.

The problem is the TTC can’t die soon enough.

Highways developed using federal funds are required to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Because of the extensive legal process involved, the final decision called the Record of Decision, can’t be issued until sometime in 2010 at the earliest. In any case it just can’t happen before the March primaries next year, and maybe not even before November general election.

Running for reelection in 2010, the Governor who devised, championed, and made every effort to force the construction of the TTC now needs voters to forget about it.

Has the contract with Cintra-Zachry been cancelled?

No, it has not been cancelled.  It won’t be cancelled until a “No Build Alternative” ROD is issued.

The “No Build Alternative” recommendation – forced, not volunteered.

Overwhelming public and legislative opposition to the TTC has forced TxDOT to act. [letter]

It is a common misconception that the required environmental impact study (EIS) is limited to endangered species and pollution. It is not. NEPA requires an examination of the project to include economic, social and community impact as well. Public opposition is a specific element of the EIS. The number of negative comments received on the TTC created a tremendous obstacle to overcome.

Add to that a dramatic lack of support in the legislature and a pending Sunset review.

Also consider the long list of issues related to TxDOT’s handling of the NEPA process. CorridorWatch and other organizations have filed numerous comments and complaints that are yet unresolved. Several of those issues would likely lead to legal action if the TTC move forward.

And, there may be even more significant problems hidden from public scrutiny.

Apparently TxDOT still does not believe honesty is the best policy.

TxDOT would have us believe that they are being genuinely responsive to public comment. New information now contradicts that and indicates that the Federal Highway Administration itself motivated the “No Build Alternative” recommendation.

In a notice filed yesterday (10/8/2009) by Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte, S.A. (Cintra) with the Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (market regulator) in Spain, Cintra reported that TxDOT’s “No Build Alternative” recommendation is the result of comments received from the Federal Highway Administration. That was omitted from what TxDOT said at their press conference. Either Cintra has it wrong or they know something that TxDOT has avoided disclosing to the public.

Commissioner Houghton just doesn’t get it!

Transportation Commissioner Ted Houghton participated in Wednesday’s “No Build Alternative” press conference. At the podium he introduced himself as “the most arrogant commissioner of the most arrogant state agency in the history of the state of Texas.” [video clip] Anyone seriously concerned about the public perception of TxDOT would never had stood in front of an assembly and uttered those words, joking or not.

The more Houghton spoke the more he demonstrated the vast disconnect between the Transportation Commission and the message TxDOT management was trying to present.

TxDOT executive director Amadeo Saenz said their announcement shows that the process works. Houghton said it was the result of TxDOTs failure to market the project.

Saenz said citizens performed their civic duty by participating in hearings and voicing their concerns. Houghton divided citizens objecting to the TTC into four broad groups and proclaimed that only those in the landowners group had valid concerns.

Houghton continues to build the case for dismantling the Commission and adopting some other form of accountable leadership.


Texas State Auditor Releases Report Explaining $1.1 Billion TxDOT Accounting Error

A 66-page report released on August 28, 2008, concludes, "Ineffective internal communication, a complex reporting structure, and misunderstanding of reported data led the Department of Transportation (Department) to overschedule $1.1 billion in planned contract awards for fiscal year 2008." The report also notes that TxDOT, failed to immediately communicate the error to oversight entities and other officials. And while changes have been made to correct the problems the SAO concludes the reporting process still need improvement. Of significant concern to CorridorWatch is the report's well documented pattern of processes and procedures that obscure TxDOT's actions and policy decisions from the public and the legislature. In this case a billion dollar error was communicated to the Transportation Commission members in private briefings. [State Auditor's Office Report 08-045]


CorridorWatch Calls For Big Changes In Texas Transportation Agency Leadership

On behalf of our members CorridorWatch has submitted official comments on the Sunset Advisory Commission Staff Report addressing the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The Sunset staff report presented 45 specific recommendations under six issue headings. [Sunset Advisory Commission Staff Report]

In our 20-page comment document CorridorWatch addresses all twenty-four recommendations found under the first four of six issue topics. CorridorWatch concurred with five staff recommendations, offers alternatives to seventeen staff recommendations, and makes no comment on the remaining two staff recommendations. No comments were made on any of the 21 staff recommendations found under the last two issues: (5) regulation of motor vehicle dealers, salvage vehicle dealers, and household goods carriers; and, (6) regulation of outdoor advertising. [CorridorWatch Comments: TxDOT]

In producing the comments we followed the format and recommendation numbering system used in the staff report. Most of our recommendations are additions or modifications to the original staff recommendations, and are based on the same supporting detail. Accordingly, it is important to refer to the staff report when considering the recommendations offered by CorridorWatch.

In the process of reviewing and commenting on the staff report CorridorWatch focused on three key elements: Accountability, Transparency and Responsiveness.

CorridorWatch highlights five recommendations as being the most important. In the order of appearance they are:

CorridorWatch Recommendation 1.1
Abolish the Texas Transportation Commission and replace it with a State Transportation Board comprised of an appointed Commissioner of Transportation and six elected members. (page 5

Linda's View [Appointed Transportation Commissioner vs. an Elected Commissioner?]

Sunset Advisory Commission Staff Recommendation 1.5
Continue TxDOT for four years. (page 8)

CorridorWatch Recommendation 2.1
Require TxDOT to redevelop and regularly update the long-range Statewide Transportation Plan using formal input from state agencies, political subdivisions, local planning organizations and the general public to reach mutually acceptable descriptions of total system needs, statewide transportation goals, and the measurement of progress toward those goals. (page 9)

CorridorWatch Recommendation 3.1
Require TxDOT to develop and implement a public involvement policy that guides and facilitates meaningful public involvement efforts agency wide. (page 13)

CorridorWatch Recommendation 4.9
Require the Contract Advisory Team to review TxDOT's development of comprehensive development agreements and grant authority to stop solicitations and execution of comprehensive development agreements. (page 20)

In making comments to the Sunset Advisory Commission CorridorWatch outlined these guiding principles:

Provide strong, direct accountability. Ensure that all Texans have an equal opportunity to effect and participate in the decision making process at all levels either directly or through representatives that they themselves have selected.

Strengthen regional control. Build on the TxDOT districts to establish a regional structure for coordination of all activities.

Decentralize the planning process. Begin decision making at the lowest planning level; collaborate and coordinate planning with peer planning units; collaborate and coordinate planning with regional planning units; and, integrate planning upward to the State Transportation Plan.

Transportation policy must not be motivated by the pursuit of revenue. Transportation policy, planning and implementation must seek to meet the needs of the public; and must not be subrogated to the financial needs of the state's transportation agencies. Ultimately the citizens of the state pay for the public transportation infrastructure regardless of the financing method used. As the owner and consumer they must retain the right and opportunity to decide what they are willing to pay for.

TxDOT should not be responsible for funding itself. Nor should transportation facility generated revenues be exempt from legislative appropriation and budget oversight.

Contracts and agreements must not be permitted to effectively establish public policy, circumvent external fiscal controls, or thwart legislative authority. Ensure that safeguards are in place to provide every opportunity for the state to avoid a flawed or unacceptably high-risk agreement prior to execution.

Public information must be made easily accessible. The decision making process must be open and transparent. The public should not be required to file open records requests to obtain routine documents.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

TxDOT's Self-Evaluation for the Sunset Review

Sunset Advisory Commission Staff Report

CorridorWatch Comments: TxDOT

Guide to the Texas Sunset Review Process

Sunset Advisory Commission Member Contact Information

Sunset Commission Website


TxDOT Ready to Sign TTC-69 Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA)

The Texas Transportation Commission never fails to amaze us.

Bottom line - this leopard has not changed its spots. Nothing has changed. The Commission and TxDOT are hell bent to sign deals and give away the farm before the legislature can rein them in.

Rain, sleet and snow won't stop the mail; and, moratoriums, legislative intent and a sunset review won't stop TxDOT.

Just a week ago TxDOT tried to impress everyone with how responsive they could be as they announced their recommendation that TTC-69 focus on using existing facilities rather than building a new highway. The only thing that changes is where the TTC is built.

That action was a slap in the face to tens of thousands of Texans who are still in the path of TTC-35, which is still marching forward at full speed. Apparently they don't rate the same consideration as the Texans in east Texas.

Today we have discovered that TxDOT is about to slap the entire Legislature across the face. Remember the moratorium?   MORE>>


TxDOT Announces Significant Change of Plan:
Separate TTC-69 Corridor Dropped
In Favor of Following Existing Highways

NEW I-69/TTC MAPThis morning, Wednesday, June 11, the Texas Department of Transportation held a press conference to announce that they are now "recommending that the I-69/Trans-Texas Corridor Project be developed using existing highway facilities wherever possible." This is a tremendous victory for opponents of the TTC and especially property owners who were in the path of the original 1,200-foot corridor.  

The official press release reads, "Citing Public Recommendation, Project Would Follow Existing Roads." TxDOT is acknowledging the overwhelming public opposition to TTC-69. That's a good public relations position and certainly appreciated by anyone running for office in November, but it lacks sincerity at TxDOT. Faced with pressure from state and federal officials, an unhappy Sunset Advisory Commission, and a pending report from the State Auditor, it was time for TxDOT to find something they could give up. Or something they could 'appear' to be giving up. Hello TTC-69.  MORE>>


   SERIOUS QUESTIONS SURFACE  

Have elected officials made a deal to trade TTC-69 for TTC-35? A growing concern is being expressed that these recent TTC-69 developments are the result of a behind the scenes plan negotiated between Governor Perry and legislators. There is some indication that TxDOT found the financial feasibility of TTC-69 lacking and used the opportunity to orchestrate a faux surrender. A series of events behind the scenes together with a string of public pronouncements paint a troubling picture. It appears that TxDOT has been pitching softballs to legislators who in turn would (perhaps unwittingly) ask them to take actions that appeared to have substantive impact on TTC-69, but did not. This provided political advantage to both. The elected officials appear to have defended their constituents against the TTC in advance of the November elections; and, TxDOT appears to have been responsive to legislator and citizen concerns. If that is where it stops, it's not much more than just saving face for both. However, it will raise grave concern if any elected official has agreed to withdraw their objection to TTC-35 or other elements of TTC projects such as public-private partnerships or market valuation in exchange for this questionably weak concession on TTC-69.
 


Sunset Commission Staff Issues Explosive
TxDOT Report & Recommendations 

The Sunset review staff report released this morning paints a vivid picture of an agency that is in desperate need of supervision. The report cites distrust, frustration, and the loss of trust and confidence in an agency many described as "out of control." Their 157-page report is filled with strong language that signals that this sunset review will certainly not be a routine legislative formality.

If the staff recommendations are implemented the Legislature can regain control over transportation policy and restore some degree of transparency, accountability and responsiveness; qualities that are practically nonexistent at TxDOT today. MORE>>



CorridorWatch Comments on
Transportation Commission Order



With great fanfare Thursday (5.29.08) the Texas Transportation Commission passed a Minute Order proclaiming their "Toll Road Principles." Sadly many media outlets went along with the TxDOT public relations effort and publicized their action as if they had actually done something new. Worse yet, some lawmakers appear to be taking comfort that this signals a change in direction.  

Unfortunately for Texans last week's action by the Commission is meaningless arm waving that provides no new commitment, relief, or public protection from toll road abuses and the Trans Texas Corridor. Their much ballyhooed Minute Order is as binding as any other flashy political campaign material. The only statement they made that we can wholly agree with is that of Chairman Delisi when she said, "Texans deserve a clear, straightforward explanation of what we are doing to solve our transportation challenges . . ." We agree and are still waiting for that day to come. MORE>>

[ Complete CorridorWatch Comments on the Transportation Commission Order ]

 

Trouble in Public-Private Toll Road Paradise?

CorridorWatch.org learns some of the most interesting information about public-private partnerships and related activities taking place in the U.S. from sources outside the country. Today is no exception.

In an article titled, "Macquarie model blowtorched," appeared in Friday's Sydney Morning Herald and it tells us there is trouble in PPP paradise. The Herald report points us to a document just released by RiskMetrics Group, an international corporate governance service headquartered in New York. The document they authored is a report titled, "Infrastructure Funds: Managing, Financing and Accounting; In Whose Interest?"  The 39-page report details a host of concerns and issues that should give pause to anyone who thinks PPP infrastructure deals are free of serious risk.

Michael West of The Sydney Morning Herald writes, "The RiskMetrics research is likely to send shockwaves through the sector and give both state and federal governments cause for concern as governments have mostly privatized public assets via these structures." And so it should.

We have often described the financial model being used by Cintra's partner Macquarie as 'Enron-style accounting.' History has demonstrated time and again that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't true. This report is another step forward in debunking the PPP easy money myth. We have consistently described the Trans Texas Corridor financial scheme as highway alchemy and are certain we will eventually be proven right. 

Summarizing the report the Herald article says, "RiskMetrics critiques the financially-engineered infrastructure model for its high debt levels, high fees, paying distributions out of capital rather than cashflow, overpaying for assets, related-party transactions, booking profits from revaluations, poor disclosure, myriad conflicts of interest, auditor conflicts and other poor corporate governance."

We hope government officials at both the federal and state level will carefully study the RiskMetrics report. As we all know tremendous pressure is being applied by the Federal Highway Administration to push state government into public-private partnerships deals, partnerships we fear will lead to disaster. We also hope this report will give rise to a greater examination of the financial impact these partnerships will have on the public. Special caution must be exercised to ensure that public infrastructure such has highways, rails, and utilities serve the public interest above any private interest.

 

MAPS & INFORMATION BY COUNTY

CLICK HERE

Welcome to the Internet home of CorridorWatch.org, an organization of concerned Texans and public officials who question the wisdom of the Trans-Texas Corridor.

"I don't think the general public is aware of all the information they need to know . . ."
— Texas Representative Robert "Robby" Cook
(July 4, 2004)
[link]

When did you first hear about the Trans-Texas Corridor? 

It's shocking just how few Texans know about this massive super-highway-rail-utility project launched by Governor Perry in 2002.  Ten vehicle lanes, six rail tracks, utilities, pipelines, state concessions (gas stations, restaurants, motels, stores, warehouses, etc.) all on 4,000 miles of toll roads that will consume more than one-half million acres of Texas. MORE>>

[ Note: The Priority Routes alone total 4,000 miles;
the complete TTC is 8,000 miles consuming one million acres. ]

 

 

"We support the concept of the Trans Texas Corridor,
but we don't want it at the expense of all the urban
transportation improvement that are needed."

Lois Finkleman, Dallas City Councilwoman MORE>>

 It's not about transportation . . . It's about revenue.

"Governor Perry and his friends spent
a great deal of time researching ideas to create more revenue" 

— Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson
(March 25, 2003)
[citation] [full text]

"One of the big issues that kind of got 3588 going was
the issue of funding for transportation."
 

— Transportation Policy Director John Langmore, 78th Legislature
(Austin, March 4, 2004)

"in your lifetime most existing roads will have tolls"
— Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson (October 11, 2004)

"It's either toll roads, slow roads or no roads"
— Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson (May 2004)

". . . concentrating on the four primary routes first,
is the beginning of generating the cash flow . . ."

— Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson (June 27, 2002) [citation]

[more about tolls]

"Local citizens would suffer the negative impact of
such a corridor without receiving any benefit"

Diane Lacy, Jeff Davis County Commissioner MORE>>

Everyone should understand that this isn't another Interstate Highway. It not just a jumbo-sized highway. This Corridor project is a very wide, very flat, extremely limited access, mostly toll, highway-rail-utility corridor. To cross the Corridor at any point will require a quarter-mile long overpass.

"If there is no access to the small towns, it will change the face of the state."
Will Lowrance, Hillsboro Mayor MORE>>

It will connect to Interstate and other major highways. However, by design it will not provide easy, if any, access to the communities it passes by. It will not spur commercial development along its frontage like our Interstate Highways. There will be no frontage. There will be no opportunity for the owners of property it abuts to develop new or expanded businesses with access to the Corridor. Moreover, it has provisions in the plan and the law to place all possible traveler services on the corridor itself.

Every mile of Corridor will consume 146 acres of land. That's property that will become state owned land - removed from county and school district tax rolls everywhere it extends.

"If it is done the way it's proposed, it will hurt us eventually ..."
Carlos Vigil, Cooke County Community Development Director MORE>>

Communities with travel and tourism based economies will lose access to those travelers. If the Corridor is successful in attracting traffic away from existing highways communities will suffer significant economic loses.

"With a right-of-way approximately 1,200-feet-wide, the proposed corridor
could change the face of agriculture in Texas forever as it
swallows up thousands of production acres of farmland."

— Juliet Briskin, Country World News (November 4, 2004) [link]

Where will they build the Corridor?

"The Trans Texas Corridor is a state of mind, not an alignment on a map."
— Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson
(March 25, 2003)
[citation] [full text]

The plan adopted by the Texas Transportation Commission outlines 4,000 miles of Corridor to crisscross the entire state. Four of those Corridors have been identified by the Texas Department of Transportation as Priority Corridors to be constructed first (shown below in orange). No effort has been made by the state to identify the specific placement of the Corridors. There are however some known constraints. The Corridors do not directly connect large cities. In fact they go around major urban areas for three prime reasons: one, to keep traffic away from existing urban congestion; two, to keep vehicle air pollution out of urban areas; and three, to provide new routes for the transportation of hazardous materials. Topography will also be very important because of the high-speed rail component of the Corridor. It will be necessary that the Corridor be as straight and level as possible (no uphill or downhill grades or sharp turns).

Note: The Priority Routes alone total 4,000 miles;
the complete TTC Plan totals 8,000 miles.

How did the Trans-Texas Corridor get started?

"What started out as a campaign promise is now in the fast lane."
— Rudy Koski, KVUE News, Austin (March 16, 2004)

In 2002 Governor Perry announced his Corridor vision and instructed TxDOT to prepare an action plan to build the Trans-Texas Corridor. Within six-months TxDOT had completed the plan and presented it to the Transportation Commission. Without any substantive discussion or debate and without public comment the Commission approved the plan as presented on June 27, 2002.  [the plan]

"Once the Governor decided that this is where we needed to head,
he wanted to remove it from the political flow of the state,
he wanted it to become policy as opposed to politics,
and that was one of the reasons he asked us to move so fast,
and we've done an admirable job...."
— Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson
(June 27, 2002) [full text]

"If this is the governor's plan,
I'd like to have the governor come down and explain it to us."
Ed Janecka, Fayette County Judge MORE>>

"The Trans-Texas Corridor plan is not the product of transportation professionals, urban planners, sociologists and environmentalists hammering out affordable infrastructure to meet our 21st Century needs. Rather, it was hatched in a smoke-filled room where nobody worried about the needs of ordinary Texans."
Dick Kallerman, Transportation Issue Coordinator, Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter [more]

Since the plan was developed a series of state laws have been put into place drastically changing the highway construction and financing rules — giving the Texas Transportation Commission unprecedented authority and power. The most significant of these new laws is known as House Bill 3588. [HB-3588]

The Legislature "threw the door wide open . . . and we intend to use it."
— Transportation Commissioner Robert L. Nichols
(Texas Good Roads Annual Meeting: June 30, 2003)

"It [HB-3588] gives us all of the authority and all of the power we need on a state level to move forward on the Trans-Texas Corridor, plus some."
Phillip Russell, Director, Texas Turnpike Authority Division
(August 20, 2003)
[citation]
[full text]

The Commission may acquire, in the name of the state, public or private real property as they determine to be necessary or convenient for the construction, enlargement or operation of the Trans Texas Corridor.

The Commission can lease or sell part of the property, for any purpose, including placing on the adjoining right-of-way a gas station, garage, store, hotel, restaurant, parking facility, railroad track, or billboard under terms they set. They can even lease it back to the original owner or any other public or private entity for unrelated commercial or industrial purposes.

"The Governor, the Texas Transportation Commission, the TxDOT, the administration -- our staff -- we are all committed to implementing this plan. We believe it is real."   Commissioner Robert Nichols, Texas Transportation Commission (August 20, 2003) [citation] [full text]

If you're thinking that this won't happen for several years into the  future, you're kidding yourself. The draft agenda for the Transportation Commission's December 2004 meeting includes as item number 11, "Turnpike Project / Various Counties - Approve the selection of the best value proposal for the planning, development, acquisition, design, construction, financing, maintenance, and operation of the Oklahoma-Mexico priority element of the Trans-Texas Corridor system generally paralleling IH 35 (TTC-35); and authorize the department to execute a comprehensive development agreement with the chosen developer." [link]

 

". . . we are very aggressive, we're very serious about it,
and we are going to move forward on it."
Phillip Russell, Director, Texas Turnpike Authority Division
(August 20, 2003) [citation]
[full text]

 

It has been their plan for more than a year . . .

"Our goal is to award -- our plan is to award and execute the CDA by late 2004. We stand committed to that schedule, and we're going to work very hard to try to maintain that schedule." — Edward Pensock, Director of Corridor Planning & Development, Texas Turnpike Authority Division (August 20, 2003) [citation] [full text]

"That's our commitment to you, and that's our promise." — Edward Pensock, Director of Corridor Planning & Development, Texas Turnpike Authority Division (August 20, 2003) [citation] [full text]

". . . I think you see that trend of a Governor and of a Commission and of a Department that's going to be very aggressive moving forward. We don't want any grass to grow under our feet, and so we will be moving very, very aggressively forward on this project. You know, the goal here really is, from the Governor and the Commission on down, is they want a contract executed -- a developer selected and a contract executed next year. And they want to get down to the business of this as soon as possible."   Phillip Russell, Director, Texas Turnpike Authority Division (August 20, 2003) [citation] [full text]

 

The official Trans-Texas Corridor Plan reads,

". . . acquiring property for all components must begin as soon as possible." [plan page 44]
 

"The truth is this is a 50-year plan with an emphasis on the first ten years to get moving
and to focus on the primary corridors as quickly as possible to relieve congestion and
move hazardous material out of our current urbanized areas."

— Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson
(June 27, 2002) [full text]

 

". . . we are very aggressive, we're very serious about it, and we are going to move forward on it." Phillip Russell, Director, Texas Turnpike Authority
(August 20, 2003)
[citation] [full text]
 

"You can't say the idea is a joke when you've got three international companies proposing
multibillion-dollar investments in the first piece."

— Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson
(July 4, 2004) [link]
 

If you take comfort in the lengthy environmental process and public hearings for a highway project of this massive size, you're in for a rude awakening.  The Federal Highway Administration announced on March 16, 2004, that the first segment of the Trans Texas Corridor (Hillsboro to San Antonio) has been granted 'experimental project' status and construction can begin before the environmental study is complete. MORE>>
 

"Under the streamlined process, public hearings  would still be conducted,
but they would not have to be completed before work started."

— Fort Worth Star-Telegram (March 16, 2004)
MORE>>
 

"I think definitely the Trans-Texas Corridor project as a whole, and even any one corridor ... potentially has enormous environmental impacts."
Ken Kramer, Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter
MORE>>
 

There are hundreds of flaws in the plan that one journalist has called, "Perry's Imperial Corridor." There are so many problems its hard to know where to start. 



The TTC is an all around bad idea for Texas.
 

Here are just a few reasons why:

  • It's designed to generate revenue first and provide transportation second.

  • Potential for tremendous liabilities created by Comprehensive Development Agreements.

  • The Plan is based on uncertain assumptions.

  • Doesn't solve the problem.

  • Inefficient transportation plan.

  • Adverse economic impact.

  • Private Interests v. Public Interests.

  • Loss of local property taxes.

  • Too much money!

  • Creates a 'soft' terrorism target.

  • Dividing the State.

  • Turns private land into State land.

  • Toll roads represent double taxation.

  • Air pollution.

 

Please Help Support the CorridorWatch.org Mission
[ CLICK HERE ]

 

 

 

TxDOT Hits The Toll Road Running

It sure didn't take TxDOT long to shake off the legislative session and resume their headlong rush to use every available loophole, exception, and remaining authority to build toll roads and grant toll road concessions just as fast as possible. Rather than acknowledging the concerns of the people and their legislature, TxDOT is now moving even more quickly. The Commission and TxDOT are taking full advantage of the legislature's failure to restrain their action. Our fear is that they will attempt to do the same with the Trans Texas Corridor. And, of course they will.

While CorridorWatch is not anti-toll, we are certainly distressed about the way TxDOT is single-mindedly focused on using Texas highways to generate revenue. We are concerned about a process where the state forces its will on every level of government with utter disregard for local and regional needs or concerns. We also question the wisdom of private control, dangerous financial schemes, and multi-generational agreements that could spell future disaster for Texas and all Texans.

Emboldened by the arrogance of their leadership, Commission members and TxDOT executives openly mocked members of the Legislature during their meeting last week. Their unabashed comments foretold of the vetoes that would soon follow.

Before the meeting ended the Commission authorized TxDOT to move forward on eighty toll road projects across the state.

Last weekend Governor Perry vetoed 49 more bills.

Property protections were dashed with the veto of an eminent domain bill TxDOT didn't like. Another bill that would have required TxDOT to consider using existing highway routes for future TTC routes was struck down. A bill that called on the Attorney General to study the impact of international agreements on Texas was ridiculed by the Commission and also vetoed by the Governor.

A few more vetoes smack of retaliation dealt to those who opposed the Governor's view of the TTC, HPV, TYC or education during the session.

It is truly incredible to see a Governor who's actions are completely disconnected from the people he is sworn to represent. His actions are at odds with his own political party party platform and leadership, they are in conflict with overwhelming public opinion, they offend a wide variety of large organizations that previously supported his election, they fly in the face of the virtually unanimous will of the Legislature. Who can help but wonder who Governor Perry represents and who's interests is he protecting?

Now the stage is set for the Commission to demonstrate just how far they will go to protect their Spanish partner. Despite incredible pressure North Texas has rejected the Governor's pre-selected private business benefactor. Will the Commission continue their now routine pattern of putting what Perry wants first and the people want last? Sadly, we believe that our Governor serves the money brokers, not the people. He has demonstrated that his loyalty is not with the people of Texas, but resides exclusively with those who can provide the kind of money that can further personal and political ambition.

Make no mistake, CorridorWatch will continue the fight challenging the wisdom of the Trans Texas Corridor. That does not mean we won't lose battles along the way, but in the end we will have an undeniable impact on this flawed project and the bad public policy that has made it possible.


Governor Perry Vetoes Several Bills
to Protect His Trans Texas Corridor

Citizens of Texas are the Big Losers
as Governor Perry Acts to Protect His Own Special Interests

House Bill 1892 may have been the first, but it wasn't the last bill Perry has vetoed in his effort to save the Trans Texas Corridor.

House Bill 2006
There isn't anything more important in a free society than the right of its citizens to own and hold land as private property. When government erodes that right it attacks a fundamental freedom of its citizens. 

With HB2006 the Texas Legislature sought to protect the state's citizens from potential abuse of eminent domain (the government's power to forcibly take private land) by ensuring limited use and just compensation.

Governor Perry objects to pesky proceedings that might slow down his massive highway construction projects like the TTC and compensate land owners for their losses and damages. Once again citizens are short changed by the very government that should be protecting them.

HB2006 is described by the Texas Public Policy Foundation as, "one of the most significant landowner rights initiatives in more than a decade." TPPF's Bill Peacock said, "Unfortunately, this veto exposes property owners from Freeport to El Paso to the very real threat of eminent domain."

Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association President Jon Means says, "Governor Perry has sent the message loud and clear that he does not support private property rights."

The Texas Farm Bureau who supported Perry's re-election so that they could maintain their "seat at the table" have found themselves pushed aside. TFB President Kenneth Dierschke complained that taking private property has become too easy and says, "Obviously, there are many powerful interests that prefer it stay that way."

By vetoing HB2006 the Governor makes sure TxDOT can run roughshod over landowners who have the misfortune of being in the path of the TTC.

Senate Bill 718
This bill didn't create much of a control over the TTC, but any limitation on the TTC certainly draws the ire of Governor Perry.

By vetoing SB718 he has released TxDOT from making any effort to consider upgrading the state's existing highway system before they establish a completely new TTC route across the state.

Most laughable is the Governor's assertion that SB718 would conflict with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations by presupposing a route for the TTC. Apparently he doesn't know that in virtually every NEPA environmental review for a highway upgrading an existing facility is one of the alternatives considered. Of course that's not the case with any of the TTC segments studied to date. Why? Because TxDOT has presupposed a new route will be required. Now that is in conflict with NEPA regulations Governor. (We'll be seeing you in court about that too!)

House Bill 3647
HB3647 would have required the Attorney General to conduct a study to determine if the authority of the state may be restricted, nullified, superseded, preempted or otherwise affected by, among other things, any compact or agreement between the state and a foreign governmental entity or international body.

Specifically the AG was directed to consider the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), World Trade Organization (WTO), General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), United Nations (UN), and North American SuperCorridor Coalition (NASCO).

Kind of makes you wonder what it is that Governor Perry doesn't want the Attorney General to report to the Legislature (and public), doesn't it? 


Governor Perry Finally Signs SB792

On June 11, 2007, Governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 792, which becomes effective immediately. The Governor's office issued a press release quoting the Governor and outlining key provisions.

Despite questionably effective TTC moratorium language, SB792 will provide Texans with many new and important protections.

TOLLROADSnews says, "SB792 is almost a total reversal of - a U-turn from - HB3588 passed just over four years ago encouraging toll concessions." CorridorWatch thinks that's a good thing. For more detail on the good things SB792 does for Texas and Texans, click here.


With A Senate Vote of 30 to 0, The House Voted To Pass SB792, 127 To 19

Complete Story >>


Blow-by-Blow View of the Legislative Session Homepage Action  HERE>>


 

"The implications are enormous."
Cyndi Wright, Editor, Fayette County Record [more]

Are Texans happy about the Corridor Plan?  No, they are not!
 

800 Attend TxDOT Public Hearing in LaGrange.
March 23, 2004

TxDOT Director Responds with Letters to the Editor [text]

 


[ AUSTIN RALLY PHOTO ALBUM ]

 

2007 TAG & TOLL: March & Rally at State Capitol a BIG Success

Farm and ranch groups across rural
Texas marched up Congress Avenue
to the Capitol Building Friday, March 2nd.
Watch for our event report. 
MORE>>

 

[ SEATON RALLY PHOTO ALBUM ]  -  [ BLACKLAND COALITION ]

 

 


 

"It's either toll roads, slow roads or no roads"
— Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson (May 2004)

"Highway tolls are yet another form of regressive taxation, designed to push the burden of public costs downward onto the average taxpayer/driver, while the lion's share of the benefits go to the industries demanding state-subsidized mobility and infrastructure."
— Michael King, Capitol Chronicle: Blame It on the Kids, Austin Chronicle
(February 1, 2002)  [link]

Here are the words of Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williams as presented before the House Transportation Committee, March 25, 2003: [full text]

  • "Governor Perry and his friends spent a great deal of time researching ideas to create more revenue" [citation]

  • "The Trans Texas Corridor is not an alignment on a map. The Trans Texas Corridor is not a contract signed to build a road in a specific location." [citation]

  • "We will build the Trans Texas Corridor..."  [citation]

  • "In fact we have already started. State Highway 130, east of Austin, is the beginning of a state wide toll system which will parallel existing tax supported highways across the state." [citation]

  • "Local transportation leaders were not consulted in developing the corridor plan. Guilty, but for a good reason. The Governor was not interested in picking a spot for new roads. He was interested in changing the way we look at planning and execution. The Trans Texas Corridor is a state of mind, not an alignment on a map."  [citation]

  • "The Trans Texas Corridor is the first real opportunity we have seen in twelve years to stabilize and increase cash flow available for new construction and capacity expansion. Properly planned and executed the Trans Texas Corridor will produce cash for transportation projects throughout the state including urban Texas."  [citation]

  • "...we firmly believe the corridor will grow faster and become a valuable asset more quickly if total project delivery and unsolicited proposals are the norm and not the exception." [citation]

Rural or Urban . . . . TxDOT Does NOT Want Your Input

Don't be fooled into believing that the TTC is just a rural issue, it's not. It's a Texas issue. Urban traffic planners and organizations have been working on transportation solutions for years. You might have assumed that they were included in planning a project that is supposed to provide them with better transportation and congestion relief. But you would be wrong. This is a revenue project driven by political ambition. As such urban leaders, like everyone else, have been excluded from the process.

"I am against Trans Texas Corridor 35. I want to make that perfectly clear. Mainly for the process, because this has not been an open process . . . I've worked with TxDOT very well, but not since Ric Williamson has been onboard the Commission . . . "  MORE>>

Dallas County Commissioner, Kenneth Mayfield
(DEIS Public Hearing, July 27,'06)

"If you aggressively invite the private sector
to be your partner,
you can't tell them where to build the road"

– Ric Williamson, Chairman, Texas Transportation Commission, May 24, 2006

 

CorridorWatch.org Asks:
Who is the road for, Texans or Cintra?

We have set the Texas Transportation Commission loose on the Texas countryside.

Our legislators have agreed to pay for superhighways without knowing where they will be built. In fact, we are told they are just a state of mind!

This is not a transportation improvement project, it is a revenue generation project.

Never before has TxDOT had so much power and autonomy. 

Never before have we gone in debt for road construction.

Never before has the State granted a State Agency the authority to condemn land so that they can lease it to a business for revenue generation.

Never before has any State Agency had such broad authority to create public debt.

 

 

Please Help Support the CorridorWatch.org Mission
[ CLICK HERE ]

House Bill 3588

Want to know more?  Here are some excerpts from House Bill 3588:

  • "...the commission has the same powers and duties relating to the condemnation and acquisition of real property for a facility of the Trans-Texas Corridor that the commission and the department have relating to the condemnation or purchase of real property..." [Sec. 227.041(a) A facility includes a turnpike project. The commission is empowered to take land whenever the owner refuses to sell or they cannot agree on a price for the property. 
     

  • The law allows the department to acquire real property for a turnpike project and to "provide a location for an ancillary facility that generates revenue for use in the construction, maintenance, or operation of a turnpike project, including a gas station, garage, store, hotel, or restaurant." [Sec. 361.132(d)(5)]  While five typical turnpike type businesses are listed, the law does not limit the acquisition to those specific businesses. In fact, other language provides a virtually limitless definition of what enterprises can be accommodated on the Trans-Texas Corridor. "Property may be leased or a franchise or license granted for any purpose, including use as a facility and use for unrelated commercial, industrial, or agricultural purposes." [Sec. 227.082(d)There is no apparent limit on how much land may be acquired or taken not only for the transportation elements of the Trans-Texas Corridor, but also for the utility zone and for any other ancillary facility. Any venture that has the potential to generate revenue, including private enterprises operating on that land under lease or franchise, is authorized.
     

  • The 'quick take' provision of the law provides that the department may file a declaration of taking with the clerk of the court, immediately serve a copy of the declaration on each person possessing an interest in the condemned property, file evidence of the service with the clerk of the court, and may thereupon take possession of the property pending the litigation. [Sec. 361.137(a)]  If the condemned property is a homestead or a portion of a homestead the department may take possession of the property on the 91st day after the date of service. [Sec. 361.137(b)] The 'quick take' provision effectively eliminates the traditional opportunity for reconsideration of condemnation. A concessionaire who has a contract in hand and is ready to start construction will move ahead immediately upon the state taking possession. A concessionaire will not be subject to the same political pressures that serve to ensure a reasonable application of the condemnation powers.
     

  • The commission has the power to acquire real property (land) located in or contiguous to an existing or planned segment of the Trans-Texas Corridor by any method, including purchase and condemnation. Primary purposes of land necessary for the Trans-Texas Corridor include, "...generating revenue, directly or indirectly, for use in constructing or operating the Trans-Texas Corridor from or for ancillary facilities that directly benefit users of the Trans-Texas Corridor." [Sec. 227.041(b)(5)] Land could be purchased or condemned for virtually any revenue generating purpose. This includes leasing property located in or contiguous to the corridor for commercial, industrial or agriculture purpose unrelated to the construction, maintenance, or operation of the corridor. There is no apparent limit on how much land may be acquired or taken not only for the transportation elements of the Trans-Texas Corridor, but also for the utility zone and for any other ancillary facility. Any venture that has the potential to generate revenue, including private enterprises operating on that land under lease or franchise, is authorized.
     

  • The commission has the power to approve the condemnation of real property that it determines, "necessary or convenient to mitigate an environmental effect that directly results from the construction, operation, or maintenance of a turnpike project." [Sec. 361.135(b)(2)]  "The department may acquire, maintain, hold, restore, enhance, develop, or redevelop property for the purpose of mitigating a past, present, or future adverse environmental effect arising from the construction or operation of any part of the Trans-Texas Corridor without regard to whether the need for mitigation is established for a particular project." [Sec. 227.028(a)] The department may contract with a governmental or private entity to accomplish environmental mitigation. [Sec. 227.028(b)] The department is authorized to undertake a program of mitigation land banking. Given that the corridor plan identifies the project area to be approximately 580,000 acres, the resulting amount of land that could be subject to condemnation for environmental mitigation is enormous. With the department authorized to acquire such land to mitigate future adverse impacts, mitigation land could be acquired immediately.
     

  • "Property may be leased or a franchise or license granted for any purpose, including use as a facility and use for unrelated commercial, industrial, or agricultural purposes." [Sec. 227.082(d) Leases and franchises may be granted for a period of up to 50 years. [Sec. 227.082]  As state owned property such land use will not be subject to any form of local control or regulation. Further, "Covenants, conditions, restrictions, or limitations affecting property acquired in any manner by the department are not binding against the department and do not impair the department's ability to use the property for a purpose authorized by this chapter." [Sec. 361.142]  Revenue generation is the driving force. Concessionaires who are authorized to negotiate or otherwise participate in leases or franchises will not be subject to the same political pressures that serve to ensure a reasonable accommodation of abutting property owners and the communities. Landowners in the proximity of the corridor will lose all protections they presently have afforded them by city ordinances, county regulations, private covenants, and deed restrictions.
     

  • "...contract with a person for the use of part of a transportation project, or lease or sell part of a transportation project, including the right-of-way adjoining the portion used to transport people and property, for any purpose, including placing on the adjoining right-of-way a gas station, garage, store, hotel, restaurant, parking facility, railroad track, billboard, livestock pasturage, telephone line or facility, telecommunication line or facility, data transmission line or facility, or electric line or facility, under terms set by the authority." [Sec. 370.172(a)(2)] This provision effectively authorized the purchase and taking of private land by the state and the subsequent lease or sale of land to private commercial enterprises.
     

  • "An authority is exempt from payment of development fees, utility connection fees, assessments, and service fees imposed or assessed by any governmental entity or any property owners' or homeowners' association." [Sec. 370.175(b)] The fees and assessments made uncollectible by this provision will result in those associated costs being placed back on local taxpayers, utility customers and property owners.
     

  • "...the department may require a person, including a governmental or private entity, to pay a fee as a condition of using any part of the Trans-Texas Corridor." [Sec. 227.081(a)] Municipal and other publicly owned utilities present cross over and under state highways without paying a use fee. Application of this provision will result in an ongoing charge to the local taxpayer owned utilities that cross the Trans-Texas Corridor. Where that fee may be paid to a concessionaire it will not be subject to the supervision or regulation by the state.
     

  • "Tolls, fees, fares, or other usage charges are not subject to supervision or regulation by any agency of this state or another governmental entity." [Sec. 370.172(d)] This provision provides the opportunity for the concessionaire to have absolute control over all tolls, fees, fares and usage charges within their segment of the corridor. A concessionaire will not be subject to the same political pressures that serve to ensure reasonable tolls, fees and charges.
     

  • "The commission by order may convert a segment of the free state highway system to a turnpike project and transfer that segment to an authority, or may transfer an existing turnpike project that is part of the state highway system, whether previously tolled or not..." [Sec. 370.035(a)]
     

  • "An authority may impose a toll for transit over an existing free road, street, or public highway transferred to the authority under this chapter." [Sec. 370.176(a)]
     

  • "...an authority may not pay compensation for public real property, parkways, streets, highways, alleys, or reservations it takes..."  [Sec. 370.169(a)]  With the exception a park, playground, designated environmental preserve property, or property owned by or on behalf of this state that under law requires compensation to this state for the use or acquisition of the property, no compensation will be paid for the taking of public real property. Accordingly, every city, county, water district, school district and state agency that owns land not protected by the few exceptions is at risk of taking without compensation. Local taxpayers will bear the expense of replacing needed land lost to the corridor (at the rate of one acre every 36-feet).
     

  • "An authority has full easements and rights-of-way through, across, under, and over any property owned by the state or any local government that are necessary or convenient to construct, acquire, or efficiently operate a transportation project or system..." [Sec. 370.169(c)]
     

Proposition 15
HOUSE BRIEFING PAPER
Opposition Says

Borrowing money by issuing bonds will make highways more expensive.

Bonding will not generate new money for highways.

Toll roads represent double taxation.

Creates an incentive to turn toll projects into cash cows.

Users of toll roads will subsidize other highways.

Undermine legislative oversight bypassing legislative control of a treasury-based fund.

 

 

The California Experience

 

"When the state first embraced toll roads, think tanks, politicians and government officials couldn't find enough superlatives to describe them."

But this public-private toll plan
turned into disaster.


 

Camino Colombia
Toll Road


The state's first and only private toll road
fails, Jan.'04.

 

 

 

 

 

"Simple logic should tell us it's impossible for the private sector to
deliver the same service for less and make a profit as well."

Ellen J. Dannin, Professor of Law, Wayne State University Law School [more]

 

European Tour

Did you know that TxDOT sent their Californian attorney and Texas Turnpike Authority Division Director Phillip Russell to Europe for more than two weeks to sell the Trans-Texas Corridor to potential European partners?  The trip included stops in London, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Barcelona and may be the most expensive employee travel in TxDOT history, costing Texas taxpayers more than $60,000.
[
article: "Texan wooed Europe contractors," W. Gardner Selby, San Antonio Express-News]

"I would imagine if you're asking a private-sector company to
invest billions of dollars, an e-mail is not going to be sufficient."
—Texas Representative Mike Krusee, Chairman of the House
Transportation Committee (R-Round Rock)

The effort seems to be working. TxDOT is quite proud of the interest that the trip has generated, including visits from a group of Spanish highway construction firms.

If TxDOT lands one of the multi-billion dollar investors they're after, how long do you think it will be before you see more Corridor construction start?

Did you know that a European firm working with TxDOT describes the entire Trans-Texas Corridor project to have a development span of up to three decades? Even if they're just being optimistic, it certainly sounds like the goal is to finish in 30 years — not start in 30 years.  [link]

 

 

"The highways of Texas are built and paved in part by paths of gold leading to the Texas Governor's Mansion." — R.G. Ratcliffe, Highway plans bring money to politicians, Houston Chronicle (August 30, 2002)

"Highway contractors, chemical pipeline executives and financial bond firms that stand to benefit from the plan have contributed more than $300,000 to Mr. Perry." — Wayne Slater, The Dallas Morning News (January 2002)

"Texas 130 underwriters Goldman Sachs, Salomon Smith Barney and Lehman Brothers will earn about $21 million for handling the state bond sales for the highway. Goldman and Salomon gave $10,000 each to last year's campaign to pass Proposition 15, a state constitutional amendment that significantly changed the way Texas finances roads." — R.G. Ratcliffe, Highway plans bring money to politicians, Houston Chronicle (August 30, 2002)

 

 

NEWS ARCHIVE

07/06/06  TTC-35 Public Hearings Begin Next Monday - July 10th. MORE>>>

05/31/06 Texas Comptroller and Candidate for Governor Demands Perry Reveal Secret Plan MORE>>>

05/24/06 TxDOT Releases Environmental Impact Study Public Hearing Schedule for TTC-35 Preferred Route MORE>>>

04/04/06  TTC-35 Draft Environmental Impact Statement Released Today MORE>>>

06/27/05  Good Thing We Didn't Hold Our Breath! TxDOT & Cintra Zachry Stonewall Release of Agreement MORE>>>

06/10/05  Surprise, Surprise, Surprise... NOT! Signed Agreement Will Not Be Released MORE>>>

12/06/04 Texas Farm Bureau adopts policy position to oppose Trans-Texas Corridor.
12/06/04 Time Magazine sheds light on the Trans-Texas Corridor in a 3-page article.
11/18/04 Transportation Commission wants more courts to hear eminent domain cases.
11/18/04 Transportation Commission blasts River of Trade Corridor Coalition.
11/17/04 House Transportation Committee Issues 2004 Interim Report.
11/15/04 Joint Statement issued by participants of statewide Toll & Corridor Summit.
11/13/04 Toll & Corridor Summit is well attended by several statewide organizations.
11/03/04 Senate Subcommittee Committee Interim Report raises serious water issues.

10/01/04 State Comptroller announces plan to audit the Central Texas RMA (Austin).
09/24/04 TxDOT Plans Meetings to Share TTC-35 Mexico-Oklahoma Proposed Routes.
09/20/04 City Development Corporation of El Campo Urges Repeal of TTC Authorization.

09/13/04 Wharton Co. Commissioners Pass Resolution Opposing the Trans-Tx Corridor.

07/14/04 TX Rep. Hegar Says Corridor May Not Be A Statewide Transportation Solution.

07/04/04 TX Rep. Cook Wants to Slow Down or Possibly Cancel the TTC Plan.

06/04/04 Republican Party Urges Repeal of Authorization for the Trans-Texas Corridor!

05/24/04 Fayette Co. Commissioners Pass Resolution Opposing the Trans-Tx Corridor.

 NEWS FLASH - MAY 30, 2005

House Transportation Bill 2702 has finally passed through the legislature with many, many amendments. Some parts of the new law rate good, some better, only a couple rate best and the rest is just plain bad.  Some provisions of the new law are dressed up to look good, but don't deliver meaningful changes or protection. Now HB2702 heads for Governor's signature and we expect it will soon become law.

HB2702 As Enrolled (final)

CorridorWatch.org sincerely appreciates the hard work of those legislators who authored, supported and fought for amendments throughout the process. In the final hours CorridorWatch.org urged support and passage of HB2702 recognizing the serious efforts these legislators made to make the best of what they had to work with. THANK YOU!

Over the next few weeks CorridorWatch.org will study and examine the real effect and potential impact of these changes, both positive and negative. The resulting analysis will be published here on the Internet for our members and the public; and, distributed widely to local and state elected officials.

This website will be updated to reflect the changes in our concerns resulting from HB2702.

 NEWS FLASH - MARCH 11, 2005

See HB-3363 Note Below - Updated March 20, 2005

Without advance public notice, and announced late on the last day for legislative bills to be filed without the Governor's approval, TxDOT Officials joined by Governor Perry and Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters signed a 342-page agreement with Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte SA (Madrid, Spain) to create a master plan to finance and build the TTC-35 Trans Texas Corridor generally parallel to IH-35 from the Valley to the Red River.

[ THE REST OF THE STORY ]

HOUSE BILL 3363

On March 11, 2005, House Bill 3363 was introduced by Houston Representative Garnet Coleman. If passed by the Legislature this law would have placed a two-year moratorium on the development of the Trans-Texas Corridor and would have also barred TxDOT from imposing a new toll on any portion of a state highway or road for the next two-years. The bill called for the creation of a 15-member Select Committee to perform a comprehensive study of the Trans-Texas Corridor and the use of tolls, bonds, and other revenue sources for the financing of state highway and road construction and maintenance

THIS LEGISLATION WAS KILLED BY REP. MIKE KRUSEE AND THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE WITHOUT A SINGLE PUBLIC HEARING.

CLICK HERE for full text of House Bill 3363.
 

TxDOT Information about the March 11, 2005 Comprehensive Development Agreement
CLICK HERE

 

Please Help Support the CorridorWatch.org Mission
[ CLICK HERE ]

LEGAL NOTICES

 

 

This Page Last Updated: Friday February 25, 2011

CorridorWatch.org
© 2004-2009 CorridorWatch.org - All Rights Reserved.