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Saturday, January 07, 2006

“The Largest Land Grab in Texas History”:
TXDOT’s Eminent Domain Plans for Rural Texans

Note:
Currently 1/3 of Wise County is under study for the eventual route of the Trans Texas Corridor. See map of Wise County at http://sandflat.blogspot.com/2005/11/wise-county-and-trans-texas-corridor.html


The Trans Texas Corridor Debacle

In case you haven’t head about it, TXDOT plans to privatize our limited public infrastructure by handing our highways over to foreign corporations for 50 year monopolies! It’s called the Trans Texas Corridor.

According to TXDOT’s official pro-corridor mouthpiece, Keep Texas Moving.com, Texas needs the Trans Texas Corridor to address the state’s future transportation needs based on a 50 year plan.

“The current population of our state is about 22 million. By 2030, forecasters predict we’ll have as many as 36 million people who live, work and drive in Texas. The majority will move to our urban areas, where we simply cannot expand our existing highway system fast enough to accommodate transportation demands.”

In other words, the TTC won’t do much to help current or future urban congestion; it will just move trough traffic from Mexico to Canada across Texas rural farm and ranch land.

So the Trans Texas Corridor proponents want to use urban congestion as their primary selling point while they intend to intentionally bypass urban centers by acquiring inexpensive undeveloped rural land for the TTC. If you visit the Keep Texas Moving site, you will note that they don’t actually spell out the reality of how they are going to acquire all this rural land.

“We may enter into early acquisition agreements with willing property owners to preserve future transportation corridors. We may pay landowners a fee to forego additional development on the property, with an option to purchase the land for fair market value in the future.”

The reality is that if property owners are not willing to give up their land, TXDOT will use Eminent Domain to take the property – and we are talking about taking well over a million acres of rural farm and ranch land across Texas!

Although TXDOT states that “Public comment is required in the decision-making process,” it is also points out that Texans won’t get to vote on this boondoggle!

“There will be no statewide or local vote on specific Trans-Texas Corridor routes.”

The estimated cost for the TTC is now up to around $183.5 billion dollars!! So how will this monster be paid for? According to Keep Texas Moving (TXDOT’s mouthpiece), TxDOT is seeking new public-private financing methods with the emphasis primarily on collecting Tolls.

Part of the TTC plan will include the privatization of our already paid for public freeways. If TXDOT gets its way on the TTC, in our lifetime most of our paid for freeways will become toll ways. Basically that amounts to double taxation!

If you ask proponents if our gas taxes will increase as well, here’s their answer . . .

“We cannot speculate whether construction and operation of the TTC will lead to an increase in the state fuel tax.”

Want to take a guess as to the correct answer?

TTC proponents are very short on real answers. As a matter of fact, everything about the actual plans for the TTC has been shrouded in secrecy. What is the real reason for this monstrous project?

According to Texas Comptroller and announced independent candidate for governor, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, “The people of Texas recognize Gov. Perry’s Trans Texas Catastrophe as the largest land grab in Texas history . . . Gov. Perry and his highway henchmen want to secretly cram toll roads down the people’s throats, which is why they don’t want these documents made public. Withholding the financial and development details of the largest land grab in history is unconscionable.”

There are plenty of facts that TXDOT and its official mouthpiece don’t want Texans to know. If you want to know the real reason for the TTC, read the following article, “Sixteen Reasons Why All Texans Should Oppose Governor Perry’s Trans Texas Corridor”

Sources:
http://www.keeptexasmoving.com/
http://www.carolestrayhorn.com/

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Sixteen Reasons Why All Texans Should Oppose
Governor Perry’s Trans Texas Corridor


1. The Trans Texas Corridor is a network of multimodal toll corridors for transporting goods and people by car, truck, rail and utility lines to be built all over Texas during the next 50 years. The corridor will crisscross the state and will intentionally bypass every major city and many small towns.

2. The Trans Texas Corridor is the biggest transportation project in the United States since the creation of the US interstate highway system in 1956. When the TTC is completed, half of the nation’s toll roads will be in Texas!

3. The TTC will pave 8,000 miles of Texas highway and take away 1.6 million acres of valuable Texas land. Because the TTC will skirt every major city, it won’t alleviate traffic congestion in large metropolitan areas. And because the TTC will have few regular access ramps, nor will it have frontage roads, it will bypass many small towns and will hurt rural economies.

4. The TTC will pave over 580,000 rural Texas acres consuming 140 acres of prime farm- and ranchland per mile! This land will be confiscated through the use of Right of Way Takings and Eminent Domain. This could be the confiscation of your private land for economic development!

5. The TTC will take more than 9,000 square miles of right-of-way for the corridors from critical wetlands and vital rural lands. Many farms and ranches will be divided by the corridor and the TTC will give no reasonable access to divided property. It is estimated that some farmers and ranchers will have to drive 20-30 miles out of their way to get to the other side of their property!!! The Texas Farm Bureau strongly opposes the TTC and is fighting to get assurances from TXDOT that landowners will be provided passage beneath the corridor.

6. The TTC will negatively impact wildlife and hunting in many of the areas of the state where hunting is a big part of farm income.

7. The Trans Texas Corridor will not increase adjacent property values because the TxDOT plan provides that business development along the Corridor be on State owned land leased to State concession businesses.

8. The TTC will promote the loss of ground water. There is nothing in the Transportation Code to prohibit private businesses from leasing the right to drill or operate a groundwater well in the corridor. If the well is large enough, it could devastate adjacent landowners.

9. The TTC will adversely affect small rural towns due to loss of local tax revenues. Because the TxDOT plan provides that business development along the Corridor be on State owned land leased to State concession businesses, the TTC will increased tax burdens by removing land from the local tax base. Rights-of-way will not be taxed, and any private business located on the right-of-way will also not pay taxes on their structures.

10. The Trans Texas Corridor will be built over the next 50 years at a cost of up to $185 billion, mostly with private money. A private foreign contractor, Cintra, will bankroll and build the highways and then charge tolls for up to 50 years. Much of the income will come from new toll taxes imposed on existing free roads that have already been paid for by our taxes.

11. Freeways all over Texas are now being converted to Toll Roads. Tolls placed on already paid for existing freeways amounts to double-taxation! A foreign company, Cintra, will control the TTC tolls and Cintra has a nasty reputation for aggressive toll collection and for raising tolls without public input. According to a January 25, 2005 article by Gordon Dickson, a staff writer for the Fort Worth Star Telegram, since Cintra began controlling tolls in Canada, “Tolls have gone up 200 percent!”

12. Cintra contributed heavily to lawmakers who voted to give the state expanded power to acquire land for the tollways and broad authority to privatize public roads and highways and convert them into toll roads. But the public and elected officials have been excluded from learning the details of the secret toll road agreements between TXDOT and Cintra.

13. The TTC is designed with two primary purposes. First, the TTC is designed to generate revenue for private investors and to benefit the politically connected, foreign special interest donors, and private road building interests. In addition, TTC is designed to further the aims of the FTAA (North American Free Trade Agreement), which may eventually merge the economies of North and South America under a single governing body like the EU (European Union).

14. The Trans Texas Corridor toll plan gives an unelected bureaucracy, The Texas Transportation Commission (five members appointed by Governor Rich Perry and his special interest friends), the authority to tax us without limit and with no accountability to the voters.

15. There will be no statewide or local vote on specific Trans-Texas Corridor routes. Unless Texans can get some form of referendum or initiative process to roll back this horrible Corridor legislation, the Corridor will be built without public disclosure, without public debate, with no legislative oversight, without any confirming transportation studies, and without input from professionals, urban planners, sociologists and environmentalists.

16. There is mounting bi-partisan opposition to the Trans-Texas Corridor, but big money and special interests are determined to push it through. Already over 32 counties have passed formal resolutions opposing the Trans-Texas Corridor. To view these counties go to: http://salcostello.blogspot.com/2005/10/32-counties-formally-oppose-trans.html

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For additional reasons why the Trans Texas Corridor is a Texas disaster in the making, go to these sites:

Texas Toll Party
http://www.texastollparty.com/ttp_History.php

Texas Toll Party – San Antonio
http://www.satollparty.com/

The Muckracker
http://salcostello.blogspot.com/

Print your own Stop the TTC Bumper Sticker
http://www.wallercountycitizens.org/TTC/StopTTC.jpg

Corridor Watch
http://www.corridorwatch.org/ttc/cw-mission.htm

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What Can I Do to Stop the Trans Texas Corridor???

If you oppose TXDOT’s “plans to privatize our limited public infrastructure handing our highways over to foreign corporations for 50 year monopolies using secret contracts that violate Open Government, create unbridled and excessive taxation due to administration costs and built-in profit, and overall work against the public good”. . . . Sign the petition at
http://www.satollparty.com/petition.php

Contact all of your elected officials, including those who are running for office in 2006, and tell them that you don’t support the TTC. Urge the repeal of legislation authorizing the Trans-Texas Corridor (HB 3588, 2003). In addition, urge the removal of all authorization and powers granted the Texas Transportation Commission and the Texas Department of Transportation for the construction and operation of the Trans-Texas Corridor.

Be sure to contact your local elected officials – especially your road commissioners and your county judge.

To find your elected officials go to Who Represents Me?
http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/fyi/fyi.htm

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Wise County is Considered a Disaster Area

“FIRE DANGER CONTINUES – Forecasts indicate the serious fire danger for Wise County will continue over the weekend with Saturday a particularly vulnerable day for firefighters with high winds and temperatures and low humidity.”
http://www.wcmessenger.com/update/

“The burn ban in Wise County will remain in effect indefinitely, and welders now have some new guidelines to follow. . .”

Read the burn ban guidelines at: http://www.wcmessenger.com/newsbindata/news/news/FightingtheFires.shtml

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