State Auditor slams Trans Texas Corridor; TxDOT misled public about use of taxpayer money

Link to articles here and here.

My mother called it LYING when someone deliberately fails to tell to the truth, and, in fact, tells someone the opposite of what is true. That’s what TxDOT has done not only with the figures for the state’s transportation “needs,” but also regarding the use of taxpayer money for the Trans Texas Corridor. Rick Perry stated at a press conference last year, in front of KHOU cameras in Houston, that NO TAXPAYER MONEY would go into the Trans Texas Corridor. Now the State Auditor (not sure why he’s just now waking up to this when citizens have asked his office to investigate these toll contracts for nearly 4 years) reveals TxDOT will use taxpayer money for the TTC and that the amount may never be clearly determined without better financial accounting from this corrupt and broken agency.

Cintra’s Annual Report has told its shareholders to plan on a 12% rate of return on their investment. So once again, TxDOT isn’t telling the taxpayers the truth behind their special interest monopolistic deal (that was brokered behind closed doors) to enrich a private, foreign corporation.

Auditor scolds agency for corridor project
Texas Department of Transportation downplayed costs, withheld information, audit says
By Ben Wear
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Texas Department of Transportation has downplayed the potential costs of the Trans-Texas Corridor and potentially inflated expected gains for the project, state auditors said in a report released Friday.

Auditors also said department officials have not been sufficiently open about information on the massive road project and should involve the state comptroller’s office in overseeing future corridor contracts.

The department, in a response included in the 73-page audit, agreed with most of the auditors’ observations and recommendations. But the department defended its decision to withhold for more than a year portions of its contract with corridor developer Cintra-Zachry. And it said the auditor was wrong to conclude that the contract commits the department to guarantee Cintra-Zachry a 12 percent rate of return on what it spends building a 300-mile toll road alternative to Interstate 35.

“The 12 percent was merely a modeling assumption,” the agency’s response says.

The state plans to delete language about a “12 percent guaranteed return on equity” now in the master development plan, the audit says.

The report also says the $3 billion in payments from the developer that the state expects to get could be reduced to nothing if interest rates and inflation are higher than expected. The agency in its response did not address that assertion.

Austin state Sen. Kirk Watson, a Democrat who serves on the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, in a statement said the audit should put the brakes on the corridor project pending further study.

“Texas cannot rush into a project that will help define our future when there are so many uncertainties about the present.” Watson said. “We must step back, demand answers, and (ensure) the public is protected before work proceeds on the Trans-Texas Corridor.”

The Trans-Texas Corridor was proposed in 2002 by Gov. Rick Perry as a 4,000-mile network of tollways, railroads and utility corridors roughly paralleling existing interstate highways in Texas. The department in late 2004 announced that it had selected Cintra-Zachry to create a master plan for developing the first and most-needed of those corridors, the twin to I-35.

The department and Cintra-Zachry in March 2005 reached a $3.5 million agreement for the partnership to create a plan, and the agency released much of the contract. But the agency said release of certain sections was not required until the actual plan was complete, an assertion that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office disputed. Perry’s gubernatorial opponents seized the opportunity to criticize.

The rest of the contract was released last fall when the master plan was completed.

The audit said “it is important that the Department makes all documents, plans, and contracts related to the project public in a timely manner.” The audit did not define “timely.” Even so, the agency remained defiant about its decision to keep the information confidential temporarily. (My emphasis..For 18 months, hardly timely)

“Providing information prior to approval (of the plan) could jeopardize competition during the procurement process,” the agency said in its audit response.

0 Replies to “State Auditor slams Trans Texas Corridor; TxDOT misled public about use of taxpayer money”

  1. David Ramos

    Once again, it appears that TXDOT “fails to tell the truth” as it tries to continue justifying the Texas Trans Corridor and tolls roads.

    Why the constant lies and distortions? Could it be that the economics behind “toll roads” and the TTC simply don’t add up?

    Wake up people….if the state’s own auditor has come to these conclusions….shouldn’t we ask TXDOT to abandon these “toll everything” plans and go back to traditional funding methods for our future transportation infrastructure?

    Dave Ramos

  2. Daniel Gordey

    Heads need to roll at TXDOT. Texans deserve a complete house cleaning of upper management at TXDOT.

    State Electted officials need to take definative action to prevent; a) existing highways from becoming Toll Roads, b) private land from being taken for The Trans-Texas Corridor, c) full and timley disclusure of what funds will be used in any highway construction, d) mandate a citizens vote on any future Texas toll highway construction.

  3. Dennis W. Russell

    I as a retired disabled veteran with 32 years of military service and land holder that stands to loose everything he ever worked for say to all of you who put this travesty together; Stop and ask yourselves would you give up all that you have for the benefit of the greater good and want to give controll of your land to a foreign entity in this manner. You must not allow this to go any further. We can do this with tax payer monies and we can keep ownership and control of Texas soil in Texas alone. If I have to give up my property to give better roads to our great states future so be it but no to tolls and no to any foreign owned entities being involved in any way. Shame on all of you for even thinking of using eminent domain on your constituency for this type of money grubbing action. Take pride in your position of responsibility to the rest of us and do what you know is right here. Protect us from those that would give Texas away for a moments profit. My son Sgt John W. Russell lost his life fighting for what this country believes in and I have done so for the past 32 years. Don’t do this to your citizens it is wrong. This will be a diabolically shameful misuse of the power we gave you through eminent domain if you take our lands and give them to foreign owned entities to use for the next 50 years in tolling our fellow Texans.

  4. Richard M. Freeman

    Who can sue TXDOT? This is lying and self-serving of the worst kind. I supported Gov. Perry’s re-election but definitely would not have done so if I had known what has now been made public.

  5. Jimmy Lamberth

    As people get “caught up” in the “midst of the battle” where the “will to win at all costs” is the most important thing on their minds sometimes it appears they lose sight of the basic values of things like “truth, honor, intregaty, a good name, etc.”.

    I can’t help but wonder if all these people who are working day and night to “shove this toll road lie” down our throats ever give any thought to what God has to say about “all liars” in his “rule book”, the Bible. I wonder if any of them pray to God? Do they give any conscience thought to the fact that even if they “win this battle” with their lies and deception that there is something more important than winning and money. My dad always said, “There are not any pockets in a funeral shroud”.

    Our courts put people in jail for lying, cheating and stealing. Are our politians immune from punishment such as this?

    Where are our “investigative reportors”? Are they too busy finding out which sports figure took a steroid to look into which Governor is “selling out Texas to a company in Spain”?

    Oh, for the good old days when a “handshake” sealed a deal and a persons word was their bond. The only reason for a written contract was so we would remember what we agreed to a few years later.

    I am not trying to pass myself off as perfect, but the book I try to live by says when I realize I have done wrong I must “repent”. This word means “turn away from” and don’t do it again. Remember, consciences are “trainable”. You can train your conscience to believe that wrong is right or that the “end justifies the means” even if the “means” is lying, cheating and stealing.
    Rick Perry, you need to “repent” and encourage a whole bunch of others you have gotten to assist you in these lies to “go and do likewise”.
    Jim Lamberth
    (210) 635-8010
    mrjim@flash.net
    San Antonio, Texas 78263

  6. Mary Lou Fisher

    I am most grateful that there are still public officials in America and in Texas who are willing
    to stand up and fight TXdot officials, who seem to think they know more than the people who
    live and work in the areas that would be adversely affected by toll roads.

    Txdot seems to overlook how many people would be adversely affected by their willful
    efforts to do what they “think is best.” They’ve lied to us, and I’m praying that our state
    government will stand up to these people and let our city alone!

    I voted for Mr. Perry twice, and I really thought he had the best for Texas in mind. It
    looks like he doesn’t.

    Mary Lou Fisher

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