Tuesday, August 10, 2010

TTC-35 officially declared DEAD by Feds

By Terri Hall - TURF - Aug. 2010

Attorney Fred Kelly Grant, who's with TURF partner, American Stewards of Liberty, was instrumental in forming the Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission (dubbed 391 commissions) that's credited with this victory. He's analyzed the Federal Highway Administration official Record of Decision (ROD) below.

"The Federal Highway Administration has pounded the final nail in the coffin of the Trans-Texas Corridor-35. The Agency’s final Record of Decision, issued on July 20, 2010 selected the No Action Alternative but went further in ordering that 'a study area for the TTC-35 Project will not be chosen and the TTC-35 Project is concluded.' Twice the ROD states that the 'project is concluded,' and six times it states that 'the project ends.' If TxDOT attempted to revive the 35 Corridor project and use the same EIS, this ROD would provide the base for issuance by a United States District Judge of a Declaratory Judgment prohibiting the action.” -- Fred Kelly Grant, Attorney, American Stewards of Liberty

Margaret Byfield, Co-Founder of American Stewards of Liberty, added:
"They didn’t withdraw the study as requested, but wrote the ROD in such a way that TxDOT cannot use this study in the future."

The following is from Insider Texas Government Strategic Partnerships, Inc. Link to article directly here...
FHA declares Trans-Texas Corridor proposal officially dead

Latest I-35 project includes expansion to six lanes through areas of Central Texas

The death certificate for the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) has officially been signed.

The oft-maligned TTC project pushed by Gov. Rick Perry would have routed traffic around population centers and provided a broad corridor to link major cities. It also would have included toll roads for cars and trucks, space parallel to the corridor for utilities and tracks for freight and passenger trains.

The demise of the project began when public hearings were held throughout the state. Thousands of citizens voiced their opposition to the TTC, citing the fact that too much private property would be taken for the project. Others objected to plans to involve a consortium that included a Spanish company for part of the $175 billion, 4,000-mile network and wanted more of the proceeds from any toll roads to go into state coffers.

After hearing the complaints, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Executive Director Amadeo Saenz, in 2009 declared, "The Trans-Texas Corridor as it is known, no longer exists."

And just last week, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) issued an official decision of "no action" on the TTC proposal, which prevents the project from going forward. It also cancels the planning comprehensive development agreement between TxDOT and the Spanish construction company.

"A study area for the TTC-35 project will not be chosen," reads the decision, and the TTC-35 project is concluded." While the FHA acknowledged that "transportation needs exist" along the corridor, "those needs will have to be addressed by transportation projects other than TTC-35." The FHA decision was based on comments at public hearings that decried a possible reduction in land values. The federal agency noted that the magnitude of the potential impact on land values was "unprecedented" because of the size of the study area - 400 to 500 miles long and 5,000-6,000 square miles in area - because of the approximately 1 million people who could be affected by the project and the projected 50 years necessary to complete the project.

Although the TTC proposal is officially dead, segments of the I-35 corridor are currently under construction as a project continues that will expand the interstate to six lanes through Central Texas from Hillsboro to San Antonio. TxDOT has already put $1 billion in the bank toward that project. The nearly 100-mile length of the project is expected to take three to five years to complete.

On Monday, a third 2010 project on the Central Texas plan began in Bell County, where the expansion to six lanes will cover an area from FM 2484 north of Salado to Highway 190 in Belton. The 8-mile, $107 million project (paid for in part by federal Recovery Act funds) is expected to be completed in approximately four years.

Earlier this month, a project began between Hillsboro and Abbott. It is the first stage of the widening of I-35 in that area to three lanes in each direction. The first phase includes moving and widening the frontage roads along the highway. And in May, two ramps onto I-35 in Waco were closed and will remain closed for approximately one year as new southbound lanes are constructed.

As TxDOT continues to seek more input from citizens, Texans are helping develop a plan for the future of the I-35 corridor. The result – MY 35, a plan featuring local input based on local needs.

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