3/2/2008 — TxDOT is
advertising for a
and perform a wide
array of services
Meeting Attracts 800
& "Different" Tone
1/31/2008 — No
question, there is
strong opposition to
TTC-69 in Walker
County. The first
was among those that
Houghton used as an
example in later
Hempstead, to say he
didn't hear a
negative tone from
those town hall
According to local
Houghton was unable
Too bad, he missed
seeing another Texas
community change its
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has formally begun a
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>>
Another 1,000+ Full House
Like other stops on
the TxDOT town hall
tour, it was hard to
find anyone in
Victoria supporting the TTC
Steve Simmons was
asked why Texans
couldn't vote on the TTC. His answer was
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
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
outcome as about
14,000 opposed and 9
for the TTC.
numbers are pretty
close. That lopsided
result led Ric
Williamson to tell
the press, "
Off The Internet
Visitors to our
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
website. The result
was four hours of
down time effecting
the website and
e-mail system until
6am Tuesday morning.
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.
More Than 1,000 Pack
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
On Tuesday, August
7, 2007, David Stall
joined a panel
issues in Irving,
Texas. You can read
his testimony [
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
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.
Senate Finance Chairman Ogden Says Legislature Should Rein In
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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
wo 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.
n October 15, 2006,
the Associated Press released analysis of a Texas
gubernatorial campaign ad, and erroneously stated that
holds a 65-percent equity position in
Cintra Zachry LP.
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.
HUNDREDS OF TEXANS ARE LOCKED OUT OF PUBLIC HEARING IN SAN ANTONIO
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.
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.
"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
CorridorWatch.org has prepared a reply to the list of eighteen ‘Myths’
provided by TxDOT.
"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
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.
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.
constitutional amendment will provide another
important step towards protecting private property rights
October 20, 2009
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.
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.
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
Constitutional Amendments vs. Statute.
amendment are (and should be) drawn in broad strokes. Details
should be left to legislation and case law.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
[Sunset Advisory Commission
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.
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)
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)
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
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
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
TxDOT Ready to Sign TTC-69
Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA)
The Texas Transportation Commission never fails to amaze us.
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.
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.
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
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.
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>>
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
have often described the financial model being used by
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
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."
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.
Welcome to the Internet
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)
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.
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
not about transportation . . . It's about
"Governor Perry and his friends spent a great deal of
time researching ideas to create more revenue" — Transportation
Commissioner Ric Williamson
(March 25, 2003)
"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,
"in your lifetime most existing roads will have tolls" — Transportation
Commissioner Ric Williamson
(October 11, 2004)
toll roads, slow roads or no roads"
— Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson
". . . concentrating on
the four primary routes first, is the beginning of
generating the cash flow . . ." — Transportation Commissioner Ric
(June 27, 2002)
citizens would suffer the negative impact of such a corridor
without receiving any benefit"
Diane Lacy, Jeff Davis County Commissioner
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."
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
"If it is done the way it's proposed, it will hurt us eventually ..."
Carlos Vigil, Cooke County Community Development Director
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)
Where will they build the
"The Trans Texas
Corridor is a state of mind, not an alignment on a map." — Transportation
Commissioner Ric Williamson
(March 25, 2003)
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
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."
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.
"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...."
"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
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]
"threw the door wide open . . . and we intend to use it."
Commissioner Robert L. Nichols (Texas Good Roads Annual Meeting: June 30,
"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."
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
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."
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."
". . . we are very aggressive, we're very serious about
and we are going to move forward on it."
Phillip Russell, Director, Texas
Turnpike Authority Division
(August 20, 2003) [citation]
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)
"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)
". . . 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]
The official Trans-Texas
Corridor Plan reads,
". . . acquiring property for all
components must begin as soon as possible."
"The truth is this is a
50-year plan with anemphasis 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
"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.
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)
"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
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.
It sure didn't take
TxDOT long to shake
off the legislative
session and resume
their headlong rush
to use every
to build toll roads
and grant toll road
concessions just as
fast as possible.
concerns of the
people and their
is now moving even
more quickly. The
Commission and TxDOT
are taking full
advantage of the
failure to restrain
their action. Our
fear is that they
will attempt to do
the same with the
Corridor. And, of
course they will.
we are certainly
the way TxDOT is
focused on using
revenue. We are
about a process
where the state
forces its will
on every level
or concerns. We
the wisdom of
for Texas and
the arrogance of
members of the
foretold of the
to move forward
on eighty toll
dashed with the
veto of an
that would have
for future TTC
struck down. A
bill that called
on the Attorney
General to study
the impact of
ridiculed by the
also vetoed by
A few more
vetoes smack of
dealt to those
who opposed the
of the TTC, HPV,
TYC or education
It is truly
see a Governor
from the people
he is sworn to
actions are at
odds with his
are in conflict
they offend a
fly in the face
of the virtually
can help but
interests is he
Now the stage is
set for the
how far they
will go to
first and the
believe that our
brokers, not the
people. He has
that his loyalty
is not with the
people of Texas,
those who can
provide the kind
of money that
Make no mistake,
wisdom of the
does not mean we
the way, but in
the end we will
project and the
policy that has
Texas are the Big
Perry Acts to
Protect His Own
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
There isn't anything
more important in a
free society than
the right of its
citizens to own and
hold land as private
that right it
of its citizens.
With HB2006 the
sought to protect
the state's citizens
from potential abuse
of eminent domain
power to forcibly
take private land)
by ensuring limited
use and just
objects to pesky
might slow down his
projects like the
TTC and compensate
land owners for
their losses and
damages. Once again
citizens are short
changed by the very
should be protecting
HB2006 is described
by the Texas Public
as, "one of the most
initiatives in more
than a decade."
TPPF's Bill Peacock
property owners from
Freeport to El Paso
to the very real
threat of eminent
President Jon Means
Perry has sent the
message loud and
clear that he does
not support private
The Texas Farm
Bureau who supported
so that they could
maintain their "seat
at the table" have
pushed aside. TFB
that taking private
property has become
too easy and says,
are many powerful
prefer it stay that
By vetoing HB2006
the Governor makes
sure TxDOT can run
landowners who have
the misfortune of
being in the path of
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
By vetoing SB718 he
has released TxDOT
from making any
effort to consider
completely new TTC
route across the
Most laughable is
assertion that SB718
would conflict with
presupposing a route
for the TTC.
doesn't know that in
virtually every NEPA
for a highway
existing facility is
one of the
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
Governor. (We'll be
seeing you in court
about that too!)
HB3647 would have
Attorney General to
conduct a study to
determine if the
authority of the
state may be
by, among other
things, any compact
or agreement between
the state and a
Specifically the AG
was directed to
consider the North
American Free Trade
Partnership of North
America (SPP), World
Agreement on Trade
in Services (GATS),
United Nations (UN),
and North American
Kind of makes you
wonder what it is
Perry doesn't want
the Attorney General to report to
the Legislature (and
On June 11,
Bill 792, which
office issued a
with many new
"SB792 is almost
a total reversal
of - a U-turn
passed just over
four years ago
thinks that's a
good thing. For
more detail on
the good things
SB792 does for
Senate Vote of
30 to 0,
House Voted To
Pass SB792, 127 To 19
"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
(February 1, 2002)
Here are the words of Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williams
as presented before the House Transportation Committee, March 25, 2003:
"Governor Perry and his friends spent a great deal of time
researching ideas to create more revenue" [citation]
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
"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
"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."
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."
Rural or Urban . . . . TxDOT Does NOT
Want Your Input
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
"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 . . .
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..."
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."
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
"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."
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
[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
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."
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
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
"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."
Leases and franchises may be granted for a period of up to 50 years.
As state owned property such land use will not be subject to any form
of local control or regulation. Further,
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
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
for any purpose, includingplacing 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.
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'
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.
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."
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
fares, or other usage charges are not subject to supervision or
regulation by any agency of this state or another governmental
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.
concessionaire will not be subject to the same political pressures
that serve to ensure reasonable tolls, fees and charges.
"The commission by
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
whether previously tolled or not..."
"An authority may
impose a toll for transit over an existing free road, street, or
public highway transferred to the authority under this chapter."
may not pay compensation for public real property, parkways,
streets, highways, alleys, or reservations it takes..."
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
"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..."
state's first and only private toll road
should tell us it's impossible for the private sector to
same service for less and make a profit as well." —
Ellen J. Dannin, Professor of Law,
Wayne State University Law School [more]
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.
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
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
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.
"The highways of
Texas are built and paved in part by paths of gold leading to the
Texas Governor's Mansion."
"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
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
Public Hearings Begin Next Monday - July 10th.
05/31/06 Texas Comptroller and Candidate for
Governor Demands Perry Reveal Secret Plan
05/24/06 TxDOT Releases Environmental Impact
Study Public Hearing Schedule for TTC-35 Preferred Route
04/04/06 TTC-35 Draft Environmental Impact
Statement Released Today
06/27/05 Good Thing We Didn't Hold Our
Breath! TxDOT & Cintra Zachry Stonewall Release of Agreement
06/10/05 Surprise, Surprise, Surprise...
NOT! Signed Agreement Will Not Be Released
12/06/04 Texas Farm Bureau adopts policy position to oppose
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
11/18/04 Transportation Commission blasts
River of Trade Corridor
11/17/04 House Transportation Committee Issues 2004 Interim Report.
11/15/04 Joint Statement issued by participants of statewide
11/13/04 Toll &
Corridor Summit is well attended by several statewide
organizations. 11/03/04 Senate Subcommittee Committee Interim Report raises serious
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
09/20/04 City Development Corporation of El Campo Urges
Repeal of TTC
Authorization. 09/13/04 Wharton Co. Commissioners Pass Resolution
07/14/04 TX Rep. Hegar Says Corridor May Not Be A Statewide
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
LEGISLATION WAS KILLED BY REP. MIKE KRUSEE AND THE HOUSE
WITHOUT A SINGLE PUBLIC HEARING.