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Influential lawmakers see area traffic for themselves
By GORDON DICKSON
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
March 26, 2008
FORT WORTH — A pair of powerful rural lawmakers got a dose of big-city traffic problems Tuesday.
North Texas officials visited with state Reps. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, and Carl Isett, R-Lubbock, for about two hours.
Chisum is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, which controls the purse strings for state agencies. Isett is chairman of the Sunset Advisory Commission, which is studying ways to revamp the Texas Department of Transportation.
The meeting and brief tour of Alliance Airport and surrounding roads was hosted by state Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, who wants to ensure that plans to improve traffic flow in the western Metroplex aren’t hurt by any statewide changes in highway funding.
“Perspective is really important,” Truitt said, “and the transportation issues we have in North Texas are vastly different than what exists in West Texas or the Panhandle.”
Transportation Department officials have come under fire recently for overestimating available highway funding by $1 billion, proceeding to plan the controversial Trans-Texas Corridor and attempting to lease toll road projects to private, foreign-owned companies.
But in the Fort Worth area, tolls and other alternative funding sources have been embraced on projects such as:
Proposed new toll and nontoll lanes on Interstate 35W in Fort Worth, and Loop 820, Airport Freeway and Texas 114/121 in Northeast Tarrant County.
The planned Southwest Parkway toll road from downtown to southwest Fort Worth and eventually Cleburne.
A proposal to relieve train traffic at the congested Tower 55 railroad intersection near downtown Fort Worth.
Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief and Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley were among 30 or so people who greeted the lawmakers.
Chisum applauded them for working together and said: “The Legislature itself is incapable of solving the problem without your support. We need you to come to us with the solutions, and we’ll assist you in changing the law.”