Monday, March 13, 2006

Wise County Hazardous Cargo Route

If you missed yesterday’s Fort Worth Star Telegram’s infomercial for the Trans Texas Corridor, you missed seeing the maps of the proposed bypass route through Wise County. The proposed bypass route will “divert more freight trains around the Metroplex also could route potentially hazardous cargo outside heavily populated areas.” The two images above are: left (passenger route) and right: (cargo rail route).

The front page of the Weekly Review (section E) has a lovely graphic of the 1,200 feet wide corridor (not including the right of way). For some reason, the article failed to mention that the TTC will also take more than 9,000 square miles of right-of-way for the corridors from critical wetlands and vital rural lands.

Additionally, there are NTCOG maps of the freight rail, auto, and truck routes that will “bypass” the metroplex by taking “hazardous waste” on a wide loop right through Wise County. The maps show the routes trough counties (including Wise) that would be part of the bypass loop. http://www.nctcog.org/trans/goods/TTCmaps.pdf

According to the article, the RTC (North Texas COG's Regional Transportation Council), wants this huge “bypass” route as part of TTC-35 and has “suggested developing freight corridors -- for both truck and rail freight -- that could be part of the TTC-35 system and run in a general east-west direction south of Fort Worth and Dallas and then around the west edge of Tarrant County and east edge of Dallas County as they extended northward. These "bypass" corridors could become part of the huge outer loop that also would let passenger vehicles travel swiftly around Dallas, Fort Worth and other Metroplex cities.”

“The outer loop, as envisioned by the North Central Texas Council of Governments (COG), would run through the northern part of Denton and Collin counties, an eastern segment of Wise County, along the Tarrant County-Parker County border, through the northern half of Johnson and Ellis counties and around the eastern edge of Dallas County.”

The long article of almost 3,000 cheerleading words for the TTC briefly mentioned opposition twice. Skipping over the undefined “political opposition”, the article later stated that there might be “opposition by rural landowners or other factors”. Do Ya think? One of those “other factors” is, “the expense and difficulty of acquiring right of way”. But the article took a very wide bypass loop to avoid any mention of how that right of way will be obtained - by eminent domain and right of way takings.

Far, far from being unbiased reporting, this article is desperately trying to sell the TXDOT spin that the primary goal of TTC-35 is traffic congestion relief. “Its primary goal is to relieve congestion on packed Interstate 35 and in the big cities through which it passes (Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio).”

The primary goal of TTC-35 is not traffic congestion relief! The well-documented goal of the TTC is to (1) to generate revenue for private investors, and (2) to promote NAFTA trade routes from Mexico to Canada, which may eventually merge the economies of North and South America under a single governing body like the EU (European Union). But TXDOT and its cheerleaders don’t want folks to think about that.

Since the TTC-35 is intentionally designed to bypass every major city and many small towns, it’s hardly going to relieve traffic congestion in major cities. But the underlying intent of the TTC is evident in the notion that “If you build it, they will come.” TXDOT is pushing the notion that the metroplex is going to increase by 80% by 2030, while hedging its bets that it might not grow that fast. But heaven forbid if it doesn’t grow that fast, so TXDOT thinks, "Let’s build it and surely they will come!!!"

The article tries hard to obfuscate the facts. But an admission, separate from the cost of building TTC-35, is the fact that “Approximately $100 billion will be needed to effectively address Metroplex transportation needs and keep congestion from getting worse by 2025, the RTC has estimated.” Obviously, then, it isn’t the TTC-35 that’s going to take care of that problem, now is it?

For those in the outlying counties where the bypass will cut a wide swath, the notion of easy travel might not be that easy to swallow. It’s going to cost and cost big time. “Motorists can expect to pay sizable tolls on the new, less clogged, higher-speed route.”

The article did point out one reason why tolls are so attractive to those who don’t know how to do the math. “ . . . skittish state elected officials continue to believe that raising the modest state gasoline tax of 20 cents per gallon is political suicide.”

Later in the article it was pointed out that, “Many local elected officials would like a more reliable, ongoing funding source such as a dedicated sales tax to finance expanded regional rail transit. But some statewide elected officials and legislators have balked at supporting legislation to enable that.”

Note: There’s a good dialogue on the Wise County Messenger’s forum called More Gasoline Taxes or Tolls? You Do the Math.

According to the S-T article, there will be a new report that will narrow the “path to a 10-mile-wide "study corridor" that would be discussed beginning in May in more than 50 public hearings in North Central Texas and other areas along the suggested corridor route.” Let’s hope that Wise County Officials will become educated on all sides of this issue and that they will participate.

In the mean time you can write letters to the editor of our local newspapers.

You can write to your legislators. Find your representatives at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/fyi/fyi.htm

You can make your public comments to TXDOT by going to Go to: http://www.keeptexasmoving.com/comments_questions/ttc35_comments.aspx

To read the entire Star-Telegram article go to: http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/opinion/14074927.htm

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