TxDOT says ‘Trans-Texas Corridor’ is dead

| 1/6/2009

Texas transportation officials say the massive toll-road proposal known as the Trans-Texas Corridor is dead.

But Texas Department of Transportation Executive Director Amadeo Saenz said TxDOT will continue to pursue new infrastructure – including toll roads – under a revised plan unveiled Tuesday, Jan. 6, during the annual Texas Transportation Forum.

“The Trans-Texas Corridor, as a single project concept, is not the choice of Texans. So we’ve decided to put the name to rest,” Saenz stated in prepared remarks during the forum.

“That does not mean that we will abdicate our mission. We will still develop transportation projects that move Texas forward.”

Saenz said TxDOT will continue to use the financial tools authorized by law. Those include public-private partnerships and toll roads.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has criticized the corridor plan since Gov. Rick Perry proposed it in 2002 because of, among other reasons, the proposed toll rate of 50 cents per mile for heavy trucks.

OOIDA has also opposed the private ownership of roadways by foreign companies. Texas officials had tapped Spanish company Cintra to design and build the first leg of the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor.

Saenz said the new plan, which he referred to as Innovative Connectivity in Texas/Vision 2009, will consist of individual projects instead of one large project or corridor.

But it looks like only the names have changed.

“Projects that had been developed under the heading of the Trans-Texas Corridor will now become a series of individual projects,” Saenz stated. “For example, Loop 9 in Dallas will be known and developed as Loop 9, not the ‘donut’ of TTC-35. Interstate 69 will be known and developed as Interstate 69, not Trans-Texas Corridor 69.”

Opponents of the Trans-Texas Corridor say it’s the same book but with a different cover.

“Not one law has been changed, and not one Texas Transportation Commission minute order has been rescinded,” Terri Hall, director of TURF, the Texans United for Reform and Freedom, told Land Line.

Hall said talk of the Trans-Texas Corridor being “dead” has been circulating for months in political circles.

“There has been nothing done other than the transportation director making this announcement using political doublespeak,” she said.

Lawmakers will convene next week in Austin for the 2009 legislative session.

Hall points out that there’s been a change in leadership in the state House since the previous session. Texas lawmakers meet in session every other year.

– By David Tanner, staff writer