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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wise County Citizens Say “No” to Trans Texas Corridor!!!

The TXDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) public hearing on the TTC (Trans Texas Corridor) was held on Tuesday evening at the Decatur Civic Center. A crowd of around 300 citizens gathered to hear the presentation. It was a presentation loaded with maps and video slides but very short on definitive answers. Following the presentation, eighteen speakers came forward to express their opinions about the controversial TTC. Of the eighteen speakers, only four supported the TTC, and three of those four were elected officials from North Richland Hills who came to Wise County to support the NCTCOG (North Texas Council of Governments) proposal to put a controversial alternate bypass route through Wise County.

The overwhelming negative response to the Trans Texas Corridor was evident. Thunderous applause erupted during the opposition talks, but a dropping pin could be heard when those few supporting the TTC spoke. Widespread political opposition to the TTC is growing. Both the Texas Democratic and Texas Republican 2006 Party Platforms have denounced the TTC. Gubernatorial candidates Strayhorn, Friedman, and Bell have denounced the TTC. David Van Os, Democratic candidate for Texas Attorney General, has come out against the TTC. The list of candidates (of every political affiliation) speaking out in opposition to the TTC is spreading faster than a grassfire.

It was obvious that the opposition speakers were well-informed and had come with plenty of ammunition. One speaker brought out the fact that there is more truck traffic in Wise County than in any other county in Texas and perhaps the entire country. A bypass route through Wise County would only increase already dangerous truck traffic, pollute the air with smog, and do nothing for the local economy because land taken by eminent domain for the TTC would be removed from the local tax rolls.

Speakers directly affected by having land in the TTC study area spoke of the prospect of losing their historic family land to eminent domain. One man spoke of not being able to sell his land near Eagle Mountain Lake due to the cloud of uncertainty that has depressed land values in the 10-mile wide study area.

Another citizen explained that building a massive tollway based on 54-year traffic pattern projections was ludicrous. He pointed out that in 1952 no one would have even dreamed of the internet or other modern innovations that have changed how we do business and move goods today. Few people today can even project how traffic patterns will be changed in five years by rising gas prices, alternative fuels, innovative hybrid cars, and other undreamed of inventions.

If the TTC goes through as planned, Texans will be paying ever rising tolls to the Cintra-Zachary consortium for the next 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. Cintra, a Spanish company, 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!”

Hank Gilbert, Democratic Candidate for Secretary of Agriculture, believes that the Trans-Texas Corridor will be the defining issue in the upcoming state races. Gilbert spoke at the hearing about the loss of hundreds of thousands of acres of prime agricultural land to the TTC. According to Gilbert, toll roads will destroy the existing taxable land, driving up taxes for everyone whose land isn’t taken by the State for the TTC. The TTC will destroy Texas agriculture by making it impossible for Texas farmers and ranchers to obtain financing. Small business will be hurt when they can’t afford to relocate or pay massive concessions to Cintra. It has been projected that the TTC will remove as much as 584,000 acres of productive Texas agricultural land and will displace at least 1 million people from their homes!!!

Most of the opposition centered on the fact that the Trans Texas Corridor is part of the little publicized free-trade movement to integrate the U.S., Mexico and Canada into a European -style Union. This North American Union, if it comes about, would severely hamper, if not completely end, U.S. sovereignty.

TXDOT has been selling the TTC to the public as a means to alleviate future traffic congestion and to increase commerce. But TXDOT was accused during the hearing of misleading the public about the true purpose of the TTC by not openly publicizing the NAFTA intent for the TTC . Few people have bothered to read the 4,000-page Environmental Impact Statement posted on the Trans-Texas Corridor website. On page 3 it reveals the NAFTA purpose of the TTC project.

TXDOT has been accused by many of cronyism, insider dealings, and conflicts of interest and TXDOT is fighting to keep contract agreements with the Cintra-Zachary consortium secret. Last year, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled that the contract must be made public. But the consortium and the transportation commission have filed suit to overturn that ruling on grounds that it contains sensitive proprietary information.

During the hearing it was pointed out by one speaker, that there will be no statewide or local vote on specific Trans Texas Corridor routes. Our county commissioners and county judge, however, will have input with TXDOT. Unless Texans can get some form of referendum or initiative process to roll back this horrible Corridor legislation, the Corridor will be built without full public disclosure and with no legislative oversight! This is why it is so very important for every Texan to vote this year for candidates who have pledged to fight the TTC, and who have a public record of fighting these insider corporate special interests.

Please Make Your Public Comments

The federal government requires that TXDOT must address public comments made about the TTC. Please take the opportunity to make your public comments before August 21st. Go to the comments page at KeepTexasMoving.org http://www.keeptexasmoving.org/comments_questions/ttc-35_comments.htm

Or Mail your comment to:
Mr. Ed Pensock, Jr., PE
Director of Turnpike Corridor Systems
Texas Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 14707
Austin, TX 78761-4707

For an eye-opening account of who stands to gain, read “Trans-Texas Corridor paved with campaign contributions?:San Antonio construction company, capital consortium from Spain stand to gain” at http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51023

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