Commissioners hear of corridor plans
January 12, 2005
By MATT JOYCE Tribune-Herald staff writer
McLennan County commissioners on Tuesday began
delve into plans for the massive Trans-Texas Corridor in an
attempt to understand the project's possible local
A 15-minute presentation by David Stall, a
founder of the anti-corridor group Corridor Watch, ballooned
into an hour-long discussion focusing mostly on damages the
tollway could inflict on McLennan
County's tax base, landowners and Interstate 35 commerce.
"I heard a lot of negative facts today, and I'm
very concerned," Pct. 1 Commissioner Wendall Crunk said. "At
some point, we need to gather the information and either support
it or oppose it."
Gov. Rick Perry proposed the concept of a
4,000-mile Trans-Texas Corridor in 2002. Texas lawmakers passed
legislation authorizing the project's creation in 2003.
In December, the Texas Transportation Commission
selected a proposal by Spanish engineering and financial firm
Cintra to invest $7.2 billion in
building the first stage of the corridor by 2010.
The initial stage will be a stretch from North
Texas to San Antonio parallel to Interstate 35 and potentially
passing through McLennan County.
The state has estimated that the corridor could consume 146
acres for every mile it runs.
Stall said that could add up to 4,200 acres, or
6.5 square miles, in McLennan County.
The project was originally envisioned as a
1,200-foot-wide corridor including separate tollways for
passenger vehicles and freight trucks, six rail lines, and
utility lines for water, petroleum, natural gas, electricity and
But the actual shape the project both its size
and its north-south route have not been determined, said Ken
Roberts, Waco district spokesman for the Texas Department of
Roberts said a third round of public hearings on
the corridor will begin in February. The transportation
department is using public input to help determine the project's
design and route, he said.
"There have been no final decisions," he said.
Proponents believe the corridor will make
traveling safer and more efficient, both for passenger vehicles
and freight trucks. They also say the project will enhance
economic development and generate revenue for transportation
Stall said that controversy over congressional
redistricting in 2003 overshadowed the transportation bill
authorizing the corridor project and distracted legislators from
fully examining its components. The bill also went largely
unnoticed by the public and local elected officials, he said.
Stall said the development of
Cintra's contract with the state
will be kept confidential until it is signed in 12 to 18 months,
which limits public participation in the process.
The state's purchase of the land for the corridor
through eminent domain would remove the land from county and
special-district taxing rolls, forcing county taxpayers to make
up for the lost funding, Stall said.
Also, Cintra would
have the exclusive rights to start businesses or contract for
necessary services related the corridor, he said.
Stall said the only way to substantially change
the corridor project would be through new laws passed during the
ongoing legislative session, which will end before the Texas
Transportation Commission and Cintra
finalize their corridor development plans.
Pct. 3 Commissioner Joe Mashek said he learned
many of the project's details for the first time Tuesday. He
said that concerned counties should unite to seek legislative
changes to the corridor project.
"I think if we take a wait-and-see approach it's
going to be too late," he said.
Commissioners will hear from representatives from
the Texas Department of Transportation at their meeting next
Matt Joyce can be reached at 757-5735 or email@example.com.