TxDOT releases SECRET contract: victory for the PEOPLE!

This is a guarded victory for open and transparent government and for the PEOPLE of Texas who have created the political pressure to make it happen! Until we wade through the 1,600 page document, we’re not certain if the financial details and totality of control this Governor handed Spanish-owned Cintra. The timing of this, 40 days out form an election where the Governor is losing ground daily due these toll issues is certainly suspect. But no matter, it’s a hard fought victory and our thanks to Carole Strayhorn for hammering the Governor to open up this secret to the light of day. The PEOPLE of Texas deserve to know what he’s sold us for.
Read Express-News here.

Read Star-Telegram here.

Read Dallas Morning News here.

Toll road contract at issue in governor’s race to be made public
Associated Press

Previously secret parts of a contract to develop the Trans-Texas Corridor that have been a contentious issue in the governor’s race are going to be made public right away, state officials said Thursday.

The decision was announced at a Texas Transportation Commission meeting where a plan for the first phase of the proposed corridor was revealed. Because that plan is an update of an earlier proposal by the consortium Cintra-Zachry, all parts of that earlier document — including those that were kept secret for proprietary reasons — will be released, said Amadeo Saenz, assistant executive director for engineering operations at the state transportation department.

Consequently, a transportation department lawsuit attempting to keep the contract secret will be dropped, he said.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who proposed the Trans-Texas Corridor in 2002, has come under fire from opponents and anti-corridor activists in part because of the secret contract. Some are also mad because the giant toll road will take their land.

Cintra-Zachry proposed paying $7.2 billion to build the first segments of the corridor, running roughly parallel to Interstate 35. The Spanish-American consortium would invest $6 billion to build a state-owned toll road and would pay the state $1.2 billion and get to operate the road and collect tolls.

State transportation officials now say the private money invested could total as much as $8.8 billion. Perry’s aides have said the private construction is part of a growing trend across the country as government money for road construction dwindles.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn has been the most vocal Perry opponent in criticizing the Trans-Texas Corridor and the state contract with Cintra-Zachry.Over the summer, she attended several crowded public hearings along the corridor route to speak against the project.

Ultimately, Perry has said, the corridor would be a network crisscrossing the state and costing up to $184 billion. The corridor would be up to a quarter-mile across, consisting of as many as six lanes for cars and four for trucks, plus railroad tracks, oil and gas pipelines, water and other utility lines, even broadband transmission cables.

The Federal Highway Administration will have the final say on the first-phase plan released Thursday. Construction could begin by 2011, pending environmental clearance.