Saturday, August 29, 2009

Southwest Parkway Funding

By Faith Chatham - DFWRCC - August 29, 2009
Funding of Southwest Parkway is still an issues in Texas. Planning for the freeway began in the 1960ies. By the 1990ies it was fully funded. Construction was delayed as some state and county "leaders" "identified it as a good candidate for tolling." As some in Austin began to dream of "creating revenue streams" from some of our public tax-payer financed infrastructure, the citizens of Fort Worth got shafted. A necessary freeway to serve that section of Tarrant county was planned, funded, affordable as a non-toll state highway. With George Bush and Rick Perry in charge, construction was delayed. Local leaders were shown that the only way to get necessary maintenance and expansion of state highways was as private public partnership toll roads. Road maintenance was delayed. Designated highway funds were transferred to other uses in the state budget. Dedicated funds in highway accounts were kept in the state treasury and not appropriated, showing false surpluses while roads all over Texas deteriorated. A crisis in road construction, congestion and air quality was created by planners and elected officials who were "sold on the advantages" of private investments in toll projects. The state and federal highway administration literally turned off the faucet on funding for road and highway and bridge projects to convince local leaders and citizens that there was a crisis in infrastructure maintenance and construction.

Now in 2009 funding of the Southwest Freeway is still being discussed (er red-stamped). Citizens in Fort Worth who paid for the right-of-way with tax money, who paid for the planning with tax money, who paid with their homes, land and businesses and suffered the strain of relocation, will have opportunity to use the Southwest Freeway...that is when they pay a toll.

Yes, it is good that it is nearing completion. It is a crime that those entrusted with the public good chose to rip off the residents of Fort Worth by delaying construction on a fully-funded non-tolled highway because it was "a good candidate for tolling!"

Toll Projects (continued from Minutes of Texas Transportation Commission, Aug. 27, 2009)
b. Tarrant County – Consider the approval of funds to pay certain construction and
right-of-way costs related to the crossing of the Southwest Parkway, a toll project
from I-30 to Altamesa Boulevard in the City of Fort Worth, over the Union Pacific
Railroad’s Davidson Rail Yard in Tarrant County, and to pay a portion of the costs
of a traffic and revenue study prepared for the Southwest Parkway (MO)
By Minute Order 111557 dated October 30, 2008, the commission approved a term sheet authorizing NTTA to develop the Southwest Parkway, subject to NTTA establishing its feasibility. By Minute Order 111889 dated July 30, 2009, the commission approved NTTA’s application for a toll equity grant of $49.87 million to be used to pay for a portion of the right of way and other costs to obtain access to the Davidson Rail Yard. The current order concerns three matters. The first is approval of $45.13 million to be used to pay the balance of the right of way and other costs to obtain access to the Davidson Rail Yard. The payment would be made if NTTA elects not to develop the Southwest Parkway. The second is approval of an amount not to exceed $40 million for the initial construction phase (as provided for in the Formal Agreement of January 2009 with the Union Pacific Railroad) of bridges crossing the Davidson Rail Yard, construction of retaining walls and other structures. The payment would be made provided the department develops the Southwest Parkway. The third is directing the executive director to enter into an agreement with NTTA under which the parties share equally in the costs of the preparation of a traffic and revenue study for Southwest Parkway.

Where to find public notices of Trans Texas Corridor

If you have been looking for public notices regarding the Trans Texas Corridor in the Texas Register as was prescribed by State Law, you probably had a hard time finding them. Those notices, under the Perry Administration, were sometimes posted on the Secretary of State's website. Now the law has been changed to comply with practice since practice did not comply with the law.

From the Minutes of the Texas Transportation Commission, August 27, 2009
Chapter 1 – Management and Chapter 24 – Trans-Texas Corridor (MO)
Amendments to §1.82, Statutory Advisory Committee Operations and
Procedures, §1.84, Statutory Advisory Committees, and §1.85, DepartmentAdvisory Committees (Advisory Committees); and Amendments to §24.13, Corridor Planning and Development (Development of Facilities) The Secretary of State currently publishes open meeting notices on the Secretary's website rather than in the Texas Register. The amendments conform the rules to the Secretary's practice. Due to recent legislation, the amendments also change the composition and selection of the public transportation advisory committee. Finally, the amendments change the rules governing advisory committees to extend committee sunset dates for committees under Chapter 1 and to provide for committee sunset dates for corridor segment committees under Chapter 24.

Despite dire warnings Texas remains attractive to investors

By Faith Chatham - DFW RCC - August 29, 2009
Repeatedly we heard elected officials warn us that refusal to accept Cintra's bid of SH121 would scare off other investors and cripple the Texas economy. This week's report from the Comptroller of Public Accounts shows that Texas, despite the recession, fires and other natural (and unnatural) disasters, remains attractive to investors.

Combs Says Short-Term Note Sale Is Best In Texas History

(AUSTIN) — Texas Comptroller Susan Combs announced that Texas’ highly anticipated sale of $5.5 billion in Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRANs) achieved an interest rate of 0.48 percent — the lowest rate the state has ever received on its annual sale of short-term notes.

“We had an impressive sale and an excellent interest rate — the best Texas has ever had,” Combs said. “Buyers bid more than $28 billion to obtain a portion of the $5.5 billion in notes Texas offered for sale Tuesday. That is more than five times the amount available for purchase. The high demand for Texas’ high-quality notes drove the interest rate down to its historic low.”

Texas will use the proceeds of the TRAN sale to distribute state funding to public schools early in the upcoming fiscal year and manage its cash flow between the start of the fiscal year and the arrival of tax revenues later in the year.

“The bond rating firms gave our TRANs the highest possible ratings,” Combs said. “The sale shows the financial community’s utmost confidence that Texas is a great investment, and our state government continues to be fiscally responsible by spending taxpayer dollars wisely.”

The TRAN notes sold Tuesday will be repaid Aug. 31, 2010.
By Allen Spelce or R.J. DeSilva - Office of the Comptroller of Public Accounts

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ted Houghton says I-69 does not connect with Mexico!

By Faith Chatham - DFWRCC - Aug. 27, 2009
I'm posting this UTube clip of Texas Transportation Commissioner Ted Houghton stating that I-69 does not connect to Mexico. I had missed seeing this until this morning. It illustrates how dishonest TxDot and the Texas Transportation Commission has been in the entire process since Gov. Rick Perry and GWB decided to push through the Trans Texas Corridor and private public partnership CD model for highway/public infrastructure construction and operation.

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DFW Regional Concerned Citizens attempts to examine issues from all directions. When a story says "By Faith Chatham" it contains my viewpoint. When it is by others, but posted by Faith Chatham, it is from someone else's viewpoint. When I discover contents which is on topic for this site, I frequently link to other sites. Usually those sites contain content which differs from my viewpoint (and frequently that of other members of DFW-RCC).