Leibowitz bill would KILL the Trans Texas Corridor

Link to WOAI story here.

Joe Krier here claims that there was controversy like this surrounding the construction of the interstate highway system by Eisenhower. HARDLY! The interstate system didn’t take swaths of private land the width of 4 footballs fields and effectively cut off normal wildlife migration patterns with 1,200 foot slabs of concrete without exits or overpasses. Just the first 4 corridors of the Trans Texas Corridor (if built out as proposed), would take 3 times the land of all the existing interstates in Texas today. Also, Eisenhower wanted to build the interstates for national security, not to turn over massive amounts of Texas infrastructure to foreign control! The pro-tollers are out of touch and don’t have their facts straight.

Truth is, there’s nothing even remotely like the TTC anywhere in the world. It’s not only the biggest eminent domain project in U.S. history, it’s horrible public policy, and the decisions of whether to build it or not is being cut off from the taxpaying public and being forcibly foisted upon Texans against their will.

EXCLUSIVE: Measure in Legislature Would Kill Trans Texas Corridor
San Antonio State Rep says toll road proposal ‘must be stopped by the people of Texas’

By Jim Forsyth
WOAI Radio
Thursday, January 25, 2007

A measure introduced in the Texas Legislature Thursday would kill the controversial Trans Texas Corridor, 1200 WOAI News reported today.

State Rep. David Liebowitz (D-San Antonio) says his bill would strip the Texas Department of Transportation of the authority to buy land for the Corridor, and sell bonds based on the expectation of future toll revenues needed to build it. It would also remove TxDOT’s authority to contract with private firms to build the massive project, and would remove tax breaks included in the current Corridor enabling legislation.

Liebowitz says the Trans Texas Corridor would destroy rural Texas, make life miserable for farmers, seize hundreds of thousands of acres of land now occupied by homes, businesses, and ranches, and allow private companies to dictate toll rates and potentially put existing companies out of business.

“This would destroy rural Texas as we know it,” Liebowitz said. “It must be stopped by the people of Texas.”

But Joe Krier, head of the transportation lobby Texans for Safe, Efficient Transportation said Liebowitz’ bill is a ‘huge mistake.’

“The Trans Texas Corridor is one of the most visionary announcements in the history of the state,” Krier said. “It will make Texas globally competitive in this century and into the next century.”

Liebowitz said there are too many potential disruptions of Texas life for him to be pleased with the Corridor, and he said farmers and ranchers will suffer immeasurably.

“This will not only tear apart farms and split ranches, but the plans for only limited access will mean that if I have cattle on one side of the corridor and I want to get feed to the other side, I might have to travel 25 miles, just to feed my cattle.”

Krier said the same arguments were made about the Interstate Highway System fifty years ago, and now that indispensable system of highways drives the Texas, and American, economies.

“All great projects are controversial, if Dwight Eisenhower announced the Interstate project today it would be controversial, it was controversial when President Eisenhower announced it.”

The Trans Texas Corridor, an ambitious system of toll roads that would connect all portions of Texas, would cost one third again as much as the entire Interstate Highway System, which had a final price tag of about $118 billion. It has been strongly opposed by rural groups as well as anti toll road activists, but has been praised by transportation and business advocates as a way to insure Texas’ prominence in the coming world of global trade, especially with Mexico and Latin America.

Liebowitz says he’s also not crazy about the concessions that will be made to the operator of the Corridor, presumably Cintra-Zachry, a partnership of San Antonio based Zachry Construction Company and a Spanish firm.

“Companies which control, have these very long term leases, to build the Trans Texas Corridor will also have long term leases to control the land along the corridor, and they will have the ability to decide who builds restaurants, gas stations, and on and on, along the route,” he said.

The Corridor is the brainchild of Governor Rick Perry and Texas Department of Transportation Chairman Ric Williamson, but it met with serious and widespread opposition from the public at several dozen public hearings all over the state last fall.