Estes, King: Put the brakes on Trans-Texas Corridor

March 14, 2007

Weatherford Democrat

Phil Riddle

Parker County’s representatives in both houses of the Texas Legislature have each co-authored legislation to allow lawmakers more time to gather public input before pushing forward on the controversial Trans-Texas Corridor.

Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) co-authored Senate Bill 1267 to put a two-year moratorium on privately funded toll roads, including the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor. “We need to put the brakes on these public-private contracts used to finance new toll-road projects,” said Estes. “There are too many unanswered questions and recent revelations of poor accountability require the legislature to step in.”

State Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) is also seeking a two-year moratorium on the massive transportation plan through proposed legislation. “Providing for a two-year moratorium on the toll project will further the goal of transparency and public participation as well as increased legislative oversight.”

Both proposals, in addition to staying the TTC project, would also create a legislative study committee made up of members of both houses, as well as the Governor’s Office. “Implications surrounding the construction of toll roads in Texas are too great not to be completely and adequately reviewed,” King said. “Allowing the legislature to study the current proposals and consider alternatives to building toll roads are in the best interests of the citizens of this state.”

Estes’ plan would apply only to privately funded toll-road projects, and does not halt the construction of a publicly funded toll-road project. The Trans Texas Corridor is a planned toll road, which, if built, will dissect Texas with a 1200-foot right of way allowing for automobile traffic, special truck lanes, rail and utility easements. Opponents of the plan cite the massive amount of Texas land needed for the project, much of which will be claimed by the state under eminent domain laws.

“I am very concerned that these private contracts lack the accountability and transparency voters demand in the operations of their government,” Estes said, “and until we fully understand both the public policy and fiscal impact of these agreements, it is in the interest of the public to stop them before it is too late.”