"It may not be as wide as the original Trans Texas Corridor...Now they’re going to take your existing highway and they are going to toll those lanes.”
By Roger Gray - Reporter/Anchor
Two years ago, east Texans made their feelings very apparent in town hall meetings on Governor Perry’s Trans Texas Corridor plan.
But the idea of the I-69 Corridor through East Texas is still very much alive.
And yes, toll roads are still in the picture…
The Governor’s plan for a giant network of roads through the state, built and operated by a Spanish toll road company, was soundly rejected by communities around the state.
But the idea isn’t dead yet.
The Alliance for I-69 is a collection of elected officials and citizens who are pushing for completion of the Texas leg of the massive route that is intended to make trade with Mexico easier.
“These are elected officials, their chamber of Commerce officials, their economic development organizations.” says Gary Bushell, a lobbyist for the project. “What makes it different is that they are saying that wherever possible, we should expand wherever we need additional capacity, the width of the original highway.”
“Well, they are going to turn it into a 4-lane toll road. It may not be as wide as the original Trans Texas Corridor,” says Terri hall, the founder of Texans United for Reform and Freedom. “But now they’re going to take your existing highway, like lanes of 59, and they are going to toll those lanes.”
This sounds a lot like the original Trans Texas Corridor, but ostensibly, the original corridor is dead.
“There will always be free alternatives,” Bushnell says. “If there are two lanes in each direction that are free today, there’ll be two lanes that are free in each direction after the upgrade.”
“It’s already in the environmental documents that show, they are going to toll all 6 main lanes of the existing highway, and leave the frontage roads as the non-toll lane,” Hall responds. “That is precisely what they plan to do. And let’s think about this for a moment. They keep talking about how they are going to put this out to bid in these public-private partnerships, how are they ever going to make their money back if there are free flowing, free lanes right next to it. And these mayors and elected officials that are under the impression that it’s going to bring all kinds of economic development like an interstate does. Well, not if they are going to toll an outer loop that is going to make a bypass around your town.”
And though the original contracts with a Spanish parent company expired this month, new bids will be accepted and Bushell says, the same company is bidding again.
© 2010 KETK: www.ketknbc.com
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