By Eileen Welsome
May 22nd, 2007 at 9:25 pm
Sources tell us this evening that Tricky Ricky is displeased with an amendment put up by state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, which closed a loophole in SB 792, the transportation legislation designed to temporarily halt the rush to privatize the state’s roads.
The loophole was big enough to drive, well, the the Trans-Texas Corridor through. And, of course, that’s exactly what Tricky Ricky wanted.
For five years, Ricky has been pushing his futuristic plan to pave the state with super-highways the width of several football fields. The corridors will eat up hundreds of thousands of acres of prime farmland and facilitate global trade, but they won’t reduce congestion at all, records and testimony show.
SB 792, which has passed the House and Senate, is now supposedly going to a conference committee made up of House and Senate members. The bill sponsor, State Rep. Wayne Smith, a Baytown Republican, said tonight that the conferees have been trying to come to agreement on the nearly two dozen amendments tacked on by various legislators. He declined to say what amendments, if any, are causing problems.
The loophole that Lois Kolkhorst fixed was spotted by the grassroots organization, Corridor Watch, and dealt with something called a facility agreement, which is a sub-agreement to a comprehensive development agreement.
The eager beavers over at TxDot have already entered into a comprehensive development agreement with Cintra to develop the Trans-Texas Corridor, but the legislation didn’t specificially address these facility agreements. Watchdogs fear that without the amendment, TxDot would continue full steam ahead on the TTC.
Ricky’s been threatening to hold a special session. And that might not be a bad idea, given that billions of dollars are at stake and these toll roads will affect commuters for the next 50 years.
If legislators don’t deal honestly with this hot-button issue now, they may find themselves on the griddle during the next election cycle. Various citizens’ groups are promising a jihad if the legislators don’t reign in these private toll-road deals. “We’re not going to walk away. We’re going to keep the grassroots fire burning,” says Terri Hall of the San Antonio Toll Party.