Public meetings draw politicians in Texas

| 7/19/2006

The issue of privately built toll roads in Texas has become a hot campaign issue in the race for governor.

Politicians seeking the office, as well as their critics, are lining up at public meetings across the state to voice opinions for and against the Trans-Texas Corridor.

The TTC is a huge concept by any standards – phase one alone is a proposed 600 miles of multi-lane toll roads and rail and utility lines from the Mexican border to Oklahoma – roughly defined by the Interstate 35 corridor.

There is a similar phase in the early planning stages for the Interstate 69 corridor.

The Texas Department of Transportation is conducting 54 public meetings in the I-35 corridor.

Gubernatorial candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn called Gov. Rick Perry’s plan a “double tax” on Texans and a “$184 billion boondoggle.” Strayhorn, who is running as an independent, made the comment at a meeting Monday, July 17, in Fort Worth.

About 300 people attended that meeting, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, with about 50 people signing up to speak.

Among them was Strayhorn, along with one of her former supporters, Tarrant County Commissioner Glen Whitley, who, according to the Star-Telegram, turned against her that evening.

Whitley reportedly criticized Strayhorn at the podium for not offering solutions.

The Star-Telegram reported that people in the audience booed Whitley while meeting officials called for calm.

These scenes, according to various media sources around the Lone Star State, are becoming more common as the governor’s race heats up.

Democratic candidate Chris Bell and independent candidate Kinky Friedman are also showing up at TxDOT’s series of meetings to voice their opinions on toll-road issues.

State House and Senate members and local city council candidates in some regions are also stepping up to podiums at TxDOT meetings to debate toll-road issues, according to reports.

Click here for the ongoing public meetings schedule, which ends Aug. 10.