Skip to comments.Part of Trans-Texas corridor may be in Montgomery County, TxDOT officials say
Posted on 06/01/2005 11:54:53 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
The Texas Department of Transportation is in the process of identifying preliminary routes for its proposed Interstate 69/Trans-Texas Corridor, some of which could be located in Montgomery County.
According to Gaby Garcia, spokeswoman for TxDOT's Turnpike Authority Division, TxDOT will conduct approximately 38 public meetings this summer, at which time the proposed routes would be unveiled. A public meeting is tentatively scheduled in Montgomery County in August, she said, although the date and time have not yet been determined.
The initial study areas of the I-69/TTC corridor, which is to extend from Mexico to northeast Texas, range from 20 to 100 miles in width. A number of preliminary routes, possibly in excess of 20, will be identified and each of those routes will be approximately four miles in width.
Original plans called for the corridor to closely follow the existing U.S. 59 roadway, but a required right-of-way of 1,200 feet to accommodate freeways, freight railway lines, high-speed commuter railways and infrastructure for utilities make such a route through Harris and eastern Montgomery counties physically and financially prohibitive.
"Definitely it has to go around, and not through, downtown Houston," Garcia said. "Because of the sheer development, I don't know where you could find any additional room for expansion without taking down existing businesses and entire neighborhoods. The sheer cost would be enormous."
That is why TxDOT has looked to the west for an alternative. The agency has expanded its study area to include Austin, Grimes, Houston, Montgomery, Waller, Walker, Washington, and Zepata counties.
Although it was believed the I-69/TTC corridor would skirt Montgomery County, city of Montgomery Mayor Edith Moore received a letter from TxDOT Executive Director Michael Behrens dated May 9 informing Moore that the western portion of the county is in the initial study area.
"I would not say we have not given it quite a bit of discussion," Moore said Tuesday. "We realize that it (the corridor) is going to be a long time off, but it is certainly something we'll be aware of and will watch. "We will be very interested in what takes place at that meeting."
The meetings scheduled for this summer represent the second round of public meetings for the I-69/TTC project. Eleven were held in 2004, but none were conducted in Montgomery County.
Even if a preliminary route were selected within a year, a second environmental study lasting three to five years must be conducted before TxDOT could received the green light on construction, Garcia said.
"Because of the size of the project, it is much more efficient to narrow down the (environmental) study in two steps instead of one," she said.
By then, the increasing amount of residential development in western Montgomery County could make it more difficult to select a route through that area, said Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador. His precinct includes significant portions of western and far northwest Montgomery County.
Meador is aware of several residential developers looking at property in far western Montgomery County, including a 650-acre tract between FM 1486 and the Grimes County line.
"Right now, in the next four to five years, you'll see a tremendous amount of development in the rural areas of this county we haven't seen before," he said. "If they (TxDOT) are seriously considering doing this thing around here, they need to quickly identify where the corridor is going to be, because all I'm seeing is more and more subdivisions popping up west of Montgomery."
County Judge Alan B. Sadler believes only a "small portion" of Montgomery County is involved inTxDOT's study area. Grimes and Waller counties were "relative wilderness" when compared to the economic growth of Montgomery County, he said.
"I'm not really concerned," he said. "The corridor would be much less costly in terms of right-of -way acquisition and eminent domain costs in those counties." Garcia said TxDOT would make the final decision on the I-69/TTC corridor after receiving input from the public meetings, local government and civic officials, federal and state environmental agencies and TxDOT engineers.
TxDOT's choice must then be presented to the Federal Highway Administration for final approval, she said.
Even with the corridor likely to be built west of Houston, Garcia said an "interstate spur" must be constructed to allow I-69/TTC traffic to flow in and out of the nation's fourth-largest city.
"There's going to be a connection between the corridor and the cities or it doesn't serve a purpose," she said. "It might involve existing suburban rail and other freeways, but the corridor cannot bypass the metropolitan area completely. The corridor is not designed to be a non-stop route from Mexico through Texas to other states. There has to be access to cities along the route."
Howard Roden can be reached at email@example.com.
©Houston Community Newspapers Online 2005
While the state moves forward with its plans for the Trans-Texas Corridor, plans continue to stop the futuristic highway in its tracks.
Late last night, lawmakers passed a massive transportation bill, including plans for the Trans-Texas Corridor.
But there are a few limits.
House Bill 2702 had dozens of additions and revisions over the last few weeks, but its final draft will guide the building of the Trans-Texas Corridor.
Supporters of the TTC say its mix of toll lanes and high speed rail lines will revolutionize transportation in the Lone Star State.
But those opposed say it will gobble up Texas farmland, and deprive local communities of valuable tax dollars.
Legislation passed in the House and Senate late Sunday will add a few restrictions on the controversial super highway.
First, private operators of state-owned toll roads must get approval for how they will set toll rates, the money they will charge you to drive on the road.
But the Texas Transportation Commission is not required to set them.
There will also be limits on commercial facilities along the highway.
In some areas, only gas stations and convenience stores will be permitted.
And access to the corridor will be provided from major crossroads.
But the group Corridor Watch is still concerned about access to the highway.
They say many small roads will not be connected because the law does not require on-ramps at smaller thorough fares.
Overall Corridor Watch says it appears lawmakers have taken some of their concerns into account.
But in the end, they still believe the corridor is wrong for Texas and are working to build more opposition.
Currently, 28 Texas counties have passed resolutions against the state's plans.
David Stall said, "For a long period of time, people took some comfort in being told this is a 30 or 50 year plan, it will be a long time before it happens. But now we are moving forward, contracts are being signed, and there will be property lost. And there will be an impact. As people become educated they are becoming concerned."
Just because the session is over, doesn't mean Corridor Watch is slowing down.
They have an anti-corridor rally planned for this Friday in Temple.
Governor Rick Perry still has to sign House Bill 2702.
Another bill that would have placed a two year moratorium on construction of the Trans-Texas Corridor died in committee.
The KXXV-TV article was posted on 5/31/05.
I guess I should have never sold that 50 acres in Montgomery county.
Public would have to approve toll roads if measure is OK'd by House and governor.
By Ben Wear
Monday, May 30, 2005
The torturous path to passage of the session's main transportation effort appeared to be nearing an end Sunday as the Senate approved its 160-plus pages of toll road and Trans-Texas Corridor changes.
And just before midnight, the House approved the compromise version of House Bill 2702, crafted by a House-Senate conference committee. By rule, the House had to make a decision by midnight.
The state's headlong rush to toll roads will see new limits in response to concerns raised over the past two years, but also new license.
The legislation ensures access from most significant crossroads to the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor system of intrastate turnpikes, limits commercial facilities in the corridor turnpikes to gas stations and convenience stories, and requires public elections before a free road can be converted to a toll road.
But it also dramatically raises the ceiling for how much gas tax money the state can use on toll roads, essentially allowing all of the allocation for metropolitan areas to go to turnpikes. For toll roads other than those in the Trans-Texas Corridor, it specifically allows the state to acquire private land and then build hotels, restaurants and other commercial facilities on that land.
HB 2702, requires private operators of state-owned toll roads to get approval of their "methodology" for setting toll rates. But it does not require the Texas Transportation Commission to approve the actual rates.
"In other states, having the commission come back every time there needs to be a change in toll rates has been problematic," said state Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Williamson County, the House sponsor of the legislation. "Because of that history, the bond market has been very wary of getting involved in a project where a political body has to set every rate."
The measure was resurrected Sunday after being declared dead Saturday evening.
Krusee, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, and his counterpart on the Senate's transportation panel, Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, seemingly had reached an impasse on differences between versions of the legislation passed in the House and Senate.
Angry that the Senate seemed to be holding up the measure over what he considered picayune items, Krusee ordered a version printed late Saturday afternoon that had the approval of House conferees alone.
The plan, Staples said, "was on the dark side of the moon for more than four hours."
What emerged on the other side, according to Staples, "violated the principles that we had all agreed upon," including the absence of property rights protections for landowners along the Trans-Texas Corridor that had been approved in the House.
Staples and his staff worked into the night red-penciling the document, and Krusee agreed to the final version Sunday morning.
But then Krusee and Staples, because the final bill measure did not meet a Saturday midnight deadline, had to persuade two-thirds of their colleagues to override rules to allow the bill to come up for a final vote in each chamber.
The corridor is not designed to be a non-stop route from Mexico through Texas to other states.What else did she think it was for?
By RAD SALLEE
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
Corridor studies move west
Although no firm has stepped up with a proposal to build a leg of the Trans-Texas Corridor from Texarkana to Mexico, the area where engineering firms are conducting environmental studies for future route planning was recently expanded westward.
TxDOT says this was done to avoid some densely developed areas, including Houston, coordinate better with local transportation and avoid national forest land.
TxDOT will host a series of public meetings this summer along the potential route. We'll post the times and places. Meanwhile, the expanded study area can be viewed at www.keeptexasmoving.com.
The corridor, none of which has been built yet, is envisioned as including separate toll roads for cars and trucks, rail lines for passengers and freight, pipelines and electric lines. So far, the only such proposal is by Cintra-Zachry, which wants to build a toll road from Oklahoma to Mexico along Interstate 35.
CorridorWatch.org - May 29, 2005
FOR RELEASE MAY 30, 2005
TEMPLE TO SEE STATE'S LARGEST ANTI-TTC-35 RALLY
Organizers anticipate a thousand or more Texans will gather at a meeting hall outside Temple, Texas, next Friday night (June 3, 2005) to rally against the Trans-Texas Corridor. Projected to be the state's largest opposition rally since five hundred gathered on the Capitol steps a month ago in Austin.
Public opposition to the Trans-Texas Corridor continues to grow rapidly, especially in the path of the TTC-35 between the Red River and Rio Grande Valley.
A new grassroots group calling itself the Blackland Coalition has organized this rally to, "educate, warn and protect Texans against the Trans-Texas Corridor." Expecting a crowd to overflow the building capacity of 700, organizers will broadcast the meeting outside the hall on loudspeakers.
Confirmed rally speakers include Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn and CorridorWatch.org founders David and Linda Stall. Comptroller Strayhorn has been publicly critical of the Trans-Texas Corridor Plan and CorridorWatch.org has spent more than a year challenging the wisdom of the Trans-Texas Corridor.
Leaders of CorridorWatch.org, a citizens group represented by members in 159 Texas counties, will update participants on the impact of legislative changes made during the legislative session that ends today.
The counties of Falls, McLennan and Milam surrounding Temple have joined twenty-five other counties having passed resolutions opposing the Trans-Texas Corridor.
"The legislature has moved forward addressing a number of our concerns. However, it is only the first step in a process that needs to continue during the interim and next session," says CorridorWatch co-founder Linda Stall of Fayetteville.
The Texas Department of Transportation is scheduled to sign a 50-year comprehensive development agreement for TTC-35, the first 600-mile segment of the Trans-Texas Corridor, a massive toll road, rail and utility project.
The rally will be begin at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, June 3rd, at Seaton Star Hall (SPJST Lodge 47) located five miles east of Temple on Highway 53.
# # #
May 26, 2005
By Andrew Stuart
The possible inclusion of the La Entrada al Pacifico trade corridor in the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor system drew fire from local officials this week, as the Brewster County commissioners voted to express their concern about the project to state representatives.
Once again, they havent asked us what we think, Brewster County Judge Val Beard said, referring to a multi-million-dollar study on La Entrada this year that will include consideration of the route in the Trans-Texas Corridor.
The Trans-Texas Corridor is a massive network of roadways, rail lines and utility corridors, including water pipelines, proposed by Gov. Rick Perry. In the Trans-Pecos, the corridor could mean the expansion of U.S. 67/90 between Fort Stockton and Presidio.
Local officials and residents have suggested that a massive transportation corridor, with separate lanes for passenger and truck traffic and freight and passenger rail lines, is inappropriate for a sparsely populated region that depends on tourism, ranching and new residences to drive economic growth.
Beard also said water pipelines could facilitate the export of groundwater from Far West Texas to areas outside the region.
By Gordon Dickson
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
AUSTIN -- Until Wednesday, they were mostly 22 strangers.
A Gulf Coast banker. A Waco veterinarian. Dallas-Fort Worth politicians past and present. A smattering of businesspeople who know something about oil, water or electricity.
The statewide group, which met for the first time Wednesday, is the Trans- Texas Corridor Advisory Committee -- and its task for the coming years may be as tedious as its bureaucratic name.
The committee will keep a watchful eye on the construction of the multibillion-dollar toll road network known as the Trans-Texas Corridor, which is currently being planned and designed. Their charge: to ensure that state leaders understand public sentiment as they make decisions along the way.
The entire 4,000-mile network is expected to take about 50 years to build. The first piece is a planned toll road from Dallas-Fort Worth to San Antonio, which is tentatively scheduled to be under construction by 2007 and completed by 2015.
"I want to know if the Texas Department of Transportation is listening to us," said Tarrant County Commissioner Glen Whitley of Hurst, a member. "I want to know how we connect into it and what it does to rural areas. I am very anxious that local representatives know where to look."
The group was appointed in March and April by the state transportation commission at the encouragement of Gov. Rick Perry. He has been fiercely criticized for his aggressive support of toll roads.
Watchdog group members are unpaid and will travel to Austin monthly at their own expense. They have no legal power -- other than persuasion.
Over the next several months, members will be expected to decide what issues of the Trans-Texas Corridor they think Texans care about the most -- perhaps the taking of private land for right-of-way, access to the toll roads or water rights along public property.
With the transportation department's research staff at their disposal, they can investigate those issues and vote on official positions. Then they can announce those positions to the public.
Another member from Tarrant County, former Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr, said his main concern is that he doesn't want the Trans-Texas Corridor to siphon jobs away from established areas such as the Interstate 35 corridor. To address that concern, Barr may push to restrict development along the toll roads.
"I want to make sure that we aren't artificially creating sprawl," he said.
Some members aren't convinced that the watchdog effort will do much good.
"I wonder ... if it's scripted," said Linda Stall of Fayetteville, an escrow officer who was asked to join the watchdog group after becoming co-founder of an opposition online newsletter, CorridorWatch.
Stall believes state leaders would like rubber-stamp approval of the state's toll road plans, and forming the watchdog group may have been a way to control opposition.
"I don't have high expectations, but I will participate," she said.
At least a third of committee members are opponents of the Trans-Texas Corridor, or represent communities with large pockets of opposition -- including Dallas and Waco.
As a result, Whitley said, the group should have a loud voice for its views, even if it lacks raw legal power.
"I don't know if this group will have any teeth to it, but the minute this group finds out it's a rubber stamp, all hell will break loose," he said.
Transportation commission Chairman Ric Williamson of Weatherford said the amount of influence the group carries will depend upon how much work it puts into the task.
"Some members would like to influence whether we build the Trans-Texas Corridor or not, and that's not the purpose of the committee," Williamson said.
But, he said, if the group wants to weigh in on a specific project -- perhaps a future road alignment -- "It's very early, and there's plenty of time to have input."
Trans-Texas Corridor Advisory Committee members
Kenneth Barr, Fort Worth, former mayor
K. Stephen Bonnette, San Antonio, engineer, businessman
Louis Bronaugh, Lufkin, mayor
Tim Brown, Belton, Bell County commissioner
Sid Covington, Austin, commuter rail district chairman
Deborah Garcia, El Paso, speech pathologist
Sandy Greyson, Dallas, councilwoman
Judy Hawley, Corpus Christi, port commissioner
Roger Hord, Houston, civic leader
Alan Johnson, Harlingen, banker
William Madden, Dallas, businessman, former state water official
Marc Maxwell, Sulphur Springs, city manager
Ann O'Ryan, Austin, AAA auto club
Charles Perry, Odessa, chemical engineer and businessman
Jose R. Ramos, Buda, engineer and planner
Wes Reeves, Amarillo, energy industry
Grady W. Smithey Jr., Duncanville, councilman
Linda Stall, Fayetteville, escrow officer
John Thompson, Livingston, Polk County judge
Martha Tyroch, Temple, councilwoman, medical rehabilitation
Roy Walthall, Waco, college instructor, veterinarian
Glen Whitley, Hurst, Tarrant County commissioner
Gordon Dickson, (817) 685-3816
Trans-Texas Corridor PING!
Best thing out of Texas A&M is Highway 6.
Thanks for the ping!
International Bridges and Border Crossings 10 May 2005
Press Release 73
Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico
May 5, 2005
THE MEXICO-UNITED STATES BINATIONAL GROUP ON BRIDGES AND BORDER CROSSINGS MET FROM MAY 2ND-4TH FOR THE 35TH TIME IN REYNOSA, TAMAULIPAS
The 35th meeting of the Mexico-United States Binational Group on Bridges and Border Crossings was held in Reynosa, Tamaulipas from May 2nd-4th. Representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the Treasury, Communications and Transportation, Public Administration and Migration from both countries attended, as did local authorities in charge of the crossing points and groups of businessmen from Mexico and the United States who are interested in participating in the development and modernization of the border between the two countries.
The governor of Tamaulipas, Eugenio Hernández Flores, and the mayor of Reynosa, Francisco Javier Cabeza de Vaca, inaugurated the meeting. The working sessions were chaired by Juan Bosco Martí Ascencio, the Foreign Ministrys General Director for North America, and by Mr. John Ritchie, the U.S. State Departments Border Coordinator.
The Bridges and Border Crossings Group was created in 1983. Since 1989, it has convened as part of the Mexico-United States Binational Commission which brings together most of the cabinet of both countries, with each country hosting the meeting in alternate years.
In Reynosa, and based on the 22 commitments agreed to by Presidents Vicente Fox and George Bush and contained in the Border Partnership Action Plan (Monterrey, March 2002) and in conformity with the mandate of the Foreign Ministers of each country as established during the 20th Mexico-United States Binational Commission held in November 2004 in Mexico City, the Mexican government renewed its commitment to giving impetus to developing the border and to addressing the needs of its communities.
The commitments adopted by officials from both countries include the following:
Leveling the asphalt on the Mexican side of the Reynosa-Pharr International Bridge. Public bidding for this project will be opened on May 25, 2005.
Beginning technical consultations to put in place priority projects to modernize the existing infrastructure of the bridges and crossing points, in order to facilitate and guarantee the safety of bilateral trade and the flow of individuals, and to make businesses more competitive and to improve the quality of life on the border.
To consider and make a technical evaluation of the proposals presented by representatives of local authorities and business groups that promote comprehensive projects to improve, broaden or open ports of entry.
Lastly and in contrast to the groups previous meetings, the delegations visited the Reynosa-Pharr and Díaz Ordaz-Los Ebanos entry points in order to verify the state of both international crossing points.