December 31, 2008

Trans-Texas Corridor
Special Edition

(Part 1 of 12)
As a holiday surprise and an educational public service, Storm Pictures has provided links to the film,"Truth Be Tolled: TTC Special Edition" in its entirety. Of course, YouTube does not accurately represent the true image and sound quality of the film.

The YouTube version is divided into twelve parts; part one is shown above.

All twelve can be found [HERE]

Please consider donating to the nonprofit organizations mentioned in the movie, and/or purchasing a DVD.

© 2008 Truth Be Tolled:

December 23, 2008

East Central school district joins 391 Commission

Nannette Kilbey-Smith
Wilson County News

EAST CENTRAL — The East Central Independent School District (ISD) is the newest member of the South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission, or 391 Commission. District trustees approved membership during the regular board meeting Dec. 16.

Organized by the city of St. Hedwig and officials from Wilson County, the commission serves as a liaison between its member entities and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). In addition to the founding members and the East Central ISD, the commission also includes the city of Marion and Guadalupe County.

District board President Steve Bryant attended the last 391 Commission meeting in St. Hedwig and told trustees the district could benefit from membership.

“Especially with the Trans-Texas Corridor [TTC-35], which will cut right through our district,” Bryant said. “It’s critical we have a place at the table to mitigate circumstances caused by TTC-35.”

Bryant was impressed with the discussions between TxDOT and the commission’s existing members.

“The attitude of TxDOT toward this commission was much better than their attitude toward the general public when they held their [TTC] meetings,” he said. “I was also impressed with Kathy Palmer, who chairs the commission. She has really done her homework, and TxDOT knows it.”

Board approval to join the 391 Commission was unanimous.

© 2008 Wilson County News:

December 17, 2008

Sunset for TxDOT board? Lawmakers prefer single chief

But 'sunset' report is only advisory to Legislature. Some want to retain five-member board, while others want to elect TxDOT leader

By Ben Wear
Austin American-Statesman

The five-member Texas Transportation Commission should be abolished and replaced with a single commissioner appointed by the governor, the Texas Sunset Review Commission decided Tuesday.

However, the 7-5 vote by the commission, as well as many other changes for the Texas Department of Transportation included in the commission's report, amount only to suggestions to the Legislature. The narrow vote, and the opposition of four of the five senators on the commission, suggests that the question of how to govern TxDOT is far from settled.

"I suspect you may have a problem getting it out of the Senate," commission co-chairman Carl Isett, a Republican House member from Lubbock, said immediately after the vote.

One member pointed out one significant impact of having a single commissioner: no more open meetings of the commission, which makes key decisions. And some members, reflecting the bulk of public comment in recent months, said they would prefer that Texans elect a transportation commissioner. State Rep. Ruth McClendon, D-San Antonio, said she'll carry legislation to make that change in 2009.

"We'll continue to have this discussion for 140 days" during the coming legislative session, said state Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, also a co-chair of the Sunset commission.

The discussion, which lasted most of Tuesday afternoon, was another in a string of unpleasant ones for the TxDOT executives lined up in the Capitol hearing room's front row. The Legislature in 2007 began and ended the session in open revolt against what many lawmakers of both parties see as the high-handed tactics of TxDOT during the past five years or so. That official restiveness had the bad luck, from TxDOT's vantage point, of coming just as the once-every-12-years sunset review was scheduled to occur.

Make that once-every-four-years, at least for now. The commission approved giving the agency just four years until its next turn on the griddle. In addition — all of these changes would only become law if they are included in a final sunset bill for TxDOT next spring — a newly created Transportation Legislative Oversight Committee would examine everything TxDOT does and how it does it in the coming years. A consultant company would be hired to conduct what would amount to a management audit of the agency. And four divisions of TxDOT, including vehicle licensing and its motor carrier office, would be broken off into a new Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

"We are trying to restructure an agency," Isett said.

But he opposed the single commissioner idea, arguing that for a service like transportation where large sums of money are spent on roads throughout the state, it would be better to retain the five-member commission and stipulate that the members come from five geographic districts. Historically, governors have attempted to maintain some sort of rough balance in their appointments of transportation commission members, but Isett would put that requirement in law.

Isett said that the real problem with TxDOT isn't the appointed leaders, but rather the "culture in that building across the street" (TxDOT's headquarters on 11th Street) of making it difficult for outsiders to accurately gauge what is going on.

But state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham , one of TxDOT's harshest critics in recent years, said changing to a single commissioner will make it clear who is responsible for the agency's actions.

"It sends a clear signal," Kolkhorst said, "that we do want change."

© 2008 Austin American-Statesman:

December 11, 2008

Agency not part of corridor planning

Country World News
Copyright 2008

The state's environmental agency told a sub-regional planning group recently that it has not been involved with the planning process of the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) and does not plan to get involved until the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is released.

Clyde Bohmfalk, a program specialist with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), told the East Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission that the agency signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in 2002 specifically for transportation issues, but that TCEQ has not been involved with the planning process up to this point.

The memorandum between TCEQ and TxDOT states that "TxDOT is committed to performing early identification efforts to assess potential environmental concern related to proposed transportation projects, and initiating coordination with TNRCC (now TCEQ) during the early planning stages of these projects."

Mae Smith, president of the Eastern Central Texas planning commission, said the commission had a good meeting with TCEQ, but she was disappointed to find out that the environmental agency has not been involved with the planning process for the TTC.

"We were prepared with dozens of questions regarding air quality, water runoff, flooding, erosion and concerns about the Trinity Aquifer, but TCEQ said they weren't sure if they had even seen the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the TTC," Smith said. "It's hard to imagine the state's leading environmental agency didn't have a larger role in the planning stages of such a huge project, but that's been how TxDOT has operated from the beginning of the whole process."

If TCEQ waits until the final EIS is released, it will be too late for the agency to have a say in whether or not the TTC gets built, she added.

"TCEQ keeps saying 'Phase II, Phase II, but that's too late," she said. "By Phase II, it will already be decided that the TTC will be built. This is the largest transportation project in the history of our state and the fact that our primary environmental agency isn't involved in the planning stages of the EIS is unbelievable."

The Environmental Impact Study is currently awaiting final approval from the Federal Highway Administration.

Gov. Rick Perry first proposed the Trans-Texas Corridor in 2002, as a series of six-lane highways, each one as wide as 1,200 feet, with separate lanes for cars and commercial trucks, high-speed rail lines and utility corridors. Perry, TxDOT and others have touted the TTC as a way to relieve traffic congestion on the state's highways.

Rural towns, agriculture producers and the Texas Farm Bureau have opposed the TTC from its inception. The opposition led to the formation of sub-regional planning groups that formed under the Texas Local Government Code, Chapter 391, which requires state agencies "to the greatest extent feasible" to coordinate with local commissions to "ensure effective and orderly implementation of state programs at the regional level." There are now nine such sub-regional planning commissions in the state, of which the Eastern Central Texas group was the first.

The Eastern Central Texas commission is made up of representatives of the cities of Bartlett, Buckholts, Holland, Little River-Academy, Rogers and their respective independent school districts.

Smith said the commission's primary complaint against the TTC has been that it will take about 6,000 acres of prime farmland out of production and that a large chunk of land will be taken out of local school districts' tax bases and given to the state forever.

"Right now, our planning commission knows more about the environmental issues in our jurisdiction than TxDOT and it's our hope we can get TCEQ to assist by holding TxDOT's feet to the fire," she added.

In other news related to the Trans-Texas Corridor, a citizen's advisory group has issued a report rejecting the concept of TTC-35. The report, issued last month, recommends a "more inclusive solution that respects local communities and private property rights while addressing statewide and local transportation needs."

The committee, one of two citizens' advisory committees appointed to advise the Texas Transportation Commission on planning issues in the I-35 and I-69 corridors, recommends that TxDOT coordinate with Texas Farm Bureau and other agriculture groups to minimize the impacts on farmers and ranchers. A report from the I-69 citizens' committee is expected soon.

© 2008 Country World news

December 9, 2008

Katy will mull joining sub-regional planning group

The Katy Sun
Copyright 2008

The city of Katy will wait before they make a decision to join the Waller County Sub-Regional Planning Commission.

The commission was formed to fight against the Trans-Texas Corridor, in it's original representation that would cut through rural areas of the greater Houston region. Even though most rural areas appear safe, the sub-regional planning commission exists to help coordinate projects across all levels of government.

“The purpose [of the commission] requires state and federal officials to coordinate activities that effect local communities,” Don Garrett, a member of the commission, said.

Texas created laws in 1965 and 2001 to help strengthen local communities and empower them to have a say in projects funded by the state and federal government.

While the Texas Department of Transportation said in June it would explore highways that already existed to create the Trans-Texas Corridor, Garrett said “Waller is not off the map.”

Garrett said if Katy joined they would be able to find out state and federal projects being planned that would impact the community. There is no cost to join the sub-regional planning commission.

The commission is a “protective and coordinating mechanism so we are not left out in the process,” Garrett said. It's “very worthwhile.”

City council voted Monday to wait until their January meeting to make a final decision on joining the planning commission.

© 2008 The Katy Sun:

November 30, 2008

County joining planning group

By Ron Maloney
The Seguin Gazette-Enterprise

SEGUIN — County commissioners voted unanimously this week to join a group they hope will gain them access to state officials planning State Highway 130 and the Trans-Texas Corridor.

Kathy Palmer, a St. Hedwig city planner and at-large member of the South Central Texas Sub-regional Planning Commission, Tuesday extended an offer to Guadalupe County that it join the group, which was established last July and so far includes as members representatives of her city, Marion and Wilson County.

Chapter 391 of the Texas Local Government Code provides cities and counties with access to state and federal planners on projects that could affect “the health, safety and general welfare” of the member communities, Palmer told commissioners.

“It allows each entity to bring its concerns or the concerns of its citizens directly to the table,” Palmer said. “This gives your community and other members of the commission the ability to coordinate with members of those government agencies.”

So far, nine of the “391 commissions” have been established around Texas. St. Hedwig decided to meet with its neighbors to try to form one when it realized state officials were planning for a Trans-Texas Corridor route that could bisect their city — and nobody at the state level had contacted St. Hedwig to discuss it.

“By law, they were supposed to come to each municipality and county government, sit down with all of us and tell us how it affected us,” Palmer said. “We’re the second-largest city in Bexar County, and TxDOT had no knowledge of that. They didn’t know who we were.”

St. Hedwig is concerned the state could take new right-of-way for the Trans-Texas Corridor, and the city wants the state to use existing rights-of-way such as Interstate 10 or Loop 1604, she said. Guadalupe County, she noted, had previously passed a resolution of concern about the Trans-Texas Corridor, which could cross the southern reaches of this county or Wilson County.

County Judge Mike Wiggins said his understanding was that the concept behind the “391 commissions” was to provide a pipeline for communication on the Trans-Texas Corridor, but the underlying legislation applied to any state or federal project with local impact. He has discussed the idea with his counterparts in other communities, he added.

“I spoke with Judge (Marvin) Quinney from Wilson County, and his belief is it’s beneficial to be informed of things before they become a done deal,” Wiggins said.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Cesareo Guadarrama III asked if Staples, the county’s newest city which incorporated earlier this year over concerns about State Highway 130’s effect on their northeast Guadalupe County community, shouldn’t consider participation, as well.

Wiggins noted he’d recently attended Staples’ first city council meeting and swore in its mayor and aldermen.

“They’re going to be impacted by State Highway 130, and I think they might be able to benefit from this,” Wiggins said.

Palmer said she’d be happy to talk to Staples Mayor Eddie Daffern and the city’s aldermen.

“They can contact us,” she said. “If any entity in the region wants a place at the table, all they have to do is talk to us.”

Precinct 1 Commissioner Roger Baenziger made the motion to support the planning group — and join it.

“I think this is a really good organization,” Baenziger said. Guadarrama seconded the motion and it passed 4-0, with Precinct 4 Commissioner Judy Cope absent.

Palmer recommended that, like in Wilson County, officials in Seguin consider appointing members of the court or other elected officials to lend the group a little clout.

“What we have found, particularly in the beginning, is that TxDOT tends to ignore you, if you’re not an elected official,” Palmer said.

Wiggins said commissioners would be asked to choose the county’s representatives at a future meeting.

© 2008 The Seguin Gazette-Enterprise

November 28, 2008

The nature of sub-regional group debated

by Paul A. Romer
Temple Daily Telegram

HOLLAND - A group of rural politicians from East Bell County that have banded together to fight the Trans-Texas Corridor look and act like a governmental body, but the state has yet to recognize it as such.

In July 2007, the mayors of Holland, Little-River Academy, Bartlett and Rogers, with help from a special-interest group named Stewards of the Range, created an organization called the Eastern Central Texas Sub-regional Planning Commission. The sole purpose of the group is to quash the corridor, to make sure it doesn’t split up local farmland and school districts.

The sub-regional commission held public meetings with state agencies such as TxDOT, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas branch of the National Resources Conservation Service.

By all appearances, the commission looks to be an acting governmental body.

Fred Kelly Grant, president of Stewards of the Range, said the group has followed the “letter of the law” in the way it was organized.

Others point to the law, specifically chapter 391 of the Texas Local Government Code, as a reason the group should be considered “extra-governmental.”

“Chapter 391 allows regions and subregions to organize, but the governor must so designate,” said Jim Reed, executive director of the Central Texas Council of Governments, which was created under chapter 391. “My understanding is the governor has not so designated. Whether they have legal standing under the state of Texas is under debate, although I don’t think anybody would debate that getting together to solve problems is a good thing.”

A spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry’s office would not comment about whether the subregional commission is recognized by the state. Eight more have been created in Texas over the past 18 months.

Some government officials see the creation of these commissions as an attempt by a special-interest group to twist the law in their favor and introduce more bureaucracy into the planning process.

Since 1965, when Chapter 391 was created, 24 planning commissions have been created in Texas. These commissions, generally referred to as councils of government, encompass all counties in the state.

Bell County and six neighboring counties are tied to the Central Texas Council of Governments, with offices in Belton.

The idea that more commissions could be created using boundaries other than what has already been established is new.

“Why spend money and create another bureaucracy that does the same thing as the council of governments?” Reed asked. “For over 40 years CTCOG has been the vehicle chosen to speak regionally and we’re honored to play that role for all communities in the region, including those who have joined the subgroup.

“We happen to think our vehicle, being recognized by the government at both the state and federal level, is the advocacy vehicle that can receive good results for Texas … Our mission statement is accomplishing together that which we cannot accomplish alone.”

Reed admits the local council of governments has not spent much time on corridor issues that concern the rural subregional commission.

The issue is not vital or as important to all seven counties, he said.

The subregional commission argues that by banding together it has been able to find out more information and play a more significant role in the planning process than would have been possible through the council of governments.

A planning organization from within the council called the Killeen-Temple Urban Transportation Study recently passed a measure that would give rural leaders in East Bell County a place at the table for planning area roadways.

An attempt to expand the jurisdiction of the transportation study is under way with one scenario calling for one member of a proposed 12-member board to represent the interests of East Bell County.

Mae Smith, mayor of Holland, said the transportation study does a poor job of representing the interests of rural east Bell County, and she and her partners are not about to dissolve their board to join an organization where they might have less impact.

Earlier this year, commissioners in Brewster County were invited to be members of a subregional commission being formed in its area. Before making a decision whether to join, the commissioners court consulted with Austin attorney Greg Hudson.

Hudson said he advised commissioners in Brewster County that they were well represented by the Rio Grande Council of Governments.

“Where did they find the authority to create a district smaller than what the governor created?” Hudson asked about subregional planning commissions.

Then there is the question of how the subregionals pay for expenses. Hudson said he sees a real problem if a subregional commission uses taxpayer money.

So far any spending of tax money by the local subregional commission appears marginal. A week ago, Holland taxpayers paid for lunch for the rural commission and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality officials after a two-hour meeting in Holland, Ms. Smith said.

If a subregional commission were determined not to be what it purports to be, its members may not be afforded the legal protections extended to those who serve on a legitimate board or council. In other words, members may be opening themselves up to personal lawsuits.

“They may have a noble cause and have absolutely honorable intentions, but they may want to contact their local city attorney to make sure they have governmental protections,” Hudson said.

Ms. Smith said Holland’s city attorney drew up the resolution form used to create the rural commission.

“I can assure you we are legal,” she said. “If the state of Texas wants to go to court over this, we have documented everything and we are ready.”

Penny Redington, executive director of the Texas Association of Regional Councils, said the rural commission here is “duplicative,” which was one of the issues the law to form the commissions was created to guard against.

“If they have succeeded in creating a commission, there are huge responsibilities such as annual audit requirements and open meetings requirements, to name just two. It’s a serious undertaking, not something you do on a lark, on a whim.”

© 2008 Temple Daily Telegram

November 25, 2008

Guadalupe County Joins South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission

Kathy Palmer, President
South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission

Well it is official! The South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission officially welcomes Guadalupe County to the table.

In a unanimous vote the Guadalupe County Commissioners Court voted to pass the resolution to join our 391 Commission.

We are now made up of the following entities: The City of St. Hedwig, Wilson County, the City of Marion, and Guadalupe County. Between the 4 of us we now cover the following TxDOT roadways: SH1604, US 87, IH10 and SH130 (not to mention numerous Farm to Market Roads) and we look forward to the continuing coordination meetings with TxDOT as well as other state and federal agencies.

Have a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving!!

© 2008 South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission:
Snyders receive "Spirit of Liberty" Award

Ralph & Marcia Snyder recieve "spirit of Liberty' Award
Left to right: Fred Grant, President, Stewards of the Range, Marcia Snyder, Ralph Snyder

Susan Rigdway Garry
Anti-Corridor/Rail Expansion (ACRE)

Ralph and Marcia Snyder, of Holland, Texas, have been fighting against the Corridor ever since it was authorized in 2003. In 2007, they were instrumental in forming the Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission (ECTSRPC), the first of the 391 commissions that are forming state-wide to protect their areas against the Corridor.

They recently received the “Spirit of Liberty” award at the annual convention of Stewards of the Range and the American Land Foundation held in Austin. This award is given to individuals who work tirelessly to protect private property and their local communities from government intrusion.

Mae Smith, mayor of Holland and president of the ECTSRPC said of the Snyders, “Without their knowledge and dedication to our community, we would never have known what to do or how to fight the Texas Department of Transportation’s plans to destroy our community.”

The ECTSRPC has forced TxDOT to coordinate their plans with the commission during several meetings. The commission also has met with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The Stewards of the Range and the American Land Foundation are property rights organizations leading the fight against the Corridor.

© 2008 ACRE:

November 20, 2008

Council discusses TTC path

Waller County News-Citizen
Copyright 2008

WALLER COUNTY - Mayor Pro-Tem Maurice Hart discussed the continued possibility of the Trans-Texas Corridor cutting a path through Waller County at the Waller City Council meeting on Monday Night, November 17.

Hart is a member of the Waller County Sub-Regional Planning Commission (WCSRPC), which was organized as a tool to fight the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) proposed Interstate 69.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) is working on an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which will provide information on how the TTC might affect Waller County, among other areas. Hart said while it appeared for a time that TXDOT would stop looking at Waller County as a location for the TTC, that apparently is not the case, because Waller County is still in the EIS.

Hart noted that the commission was sending a letter to Texas Department of Transportation “to put them on notice that they have to coordinate with us.”

Hart also shared that members discussed inviting other municipalities to join the Commission, including Hempstead, Pattison, Brookshire, and the Farm Bureau. Hart also stated that some citizens may be invited to join as non-voting members.

For the rest of the article click: [HERE]

November 15, 2008

Coordination Works

Bringing back local control to the communities is making a difference.

November 15, 2008

Kathy Palmer, President
South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission

On November 13-14, the Call America National Convention was held in Austin. I just returned from participating in this event, where the main theme was “Coordination”, and a substantial amount of conversation was had about the efforts around the nation where Coordination has worked. From California to Montana to here in our great state of Texas, Coordination is giving back local control to the citizens and their communities.

In Texas, we have nine 391 Sub-Regional Planning Commissions which invoke the Coordination clause in the Texas Local Govt. Code, allowing the formation of the Commission with two cities, two counties or a combination thereof. The Commissions were formed because of the grassroots movement in the local communities directly affected by the current proposed path of the Trans Texas Corridor, both TTC-35 and TTC-69 but, these Commissions have evolved into more than just a way to oppose the TTC. They have given control back to the local communities for everything from transportation issues, to environmental issues, to Homeland Security issues relating to zip codes and 911 addresses.

I was privileged with the opportunity to speak to several hundred individuals from around the nation, sharing how our SCTSRPC came to be, and I in turn heard from individuals from Montana, California and Wisconsin and the results their efforts in coordination have brought to their communities.
Prior to attending the convention, I made a stop at the TxDOT building in downtown Austin. My intent was to attend the I35/I69 Corridor Advisory Committee Meeting and hear their report to the Texas Transportation Commission however, the posted date of the meeting was incorrect, and I missed it by one day.

Therefore, instead of hearing from the Committee (of which their final report is below as well as an article from WOAI) I had an impromptu meeting with the Associate Executive Director of Innovative Project Development Phil Russel and Public Information Officer Gabby Garcia. I spent about an hour and a half with them discussing various things from 391 Commissions, the I35 and I69 Corridor Advisory Committee reports, to the Segment Committees in the process of formation. It was very interesting to hear things from their side, to say the least.

What came out of both the Call America Convention and my impromptu meeting with the Executive Levels of TxDOT is that Coordination works. Bringing back local control to the communities is making a difference. I would encourage all citizens that really want to be heard to contact your 391 Commissions, your local City Councils, your local Commissioners Court, and to keep up with if not attend the public meetings put out by TxDOT relating to the Corridor Advisory Committees and upcoming Segment Committees ( Corridor Advisory Information ). With all information from all sides, you yourself will be able to begin to better understand the direct impact proposals discussed in these meetings will have on you. That in turn will enable you to be more involved. Remember, knowledge is power and power is coming back to the local levels through “Coordination”. We are making a difference.

Links to SCTSRPC Related Articles:

TXDOT Coordination Letter 7/31/08

TXDOT Reply 9/25/08

SA Express News Article 9/10/08

Wilson County News Article 11/5/08

Links to TxDOT information:

Please note the SCTSRPC does not necessarily support the information contained in these links. They are simply posted here to make it easier for you to access this information without having to go to multiple websites.

I35 Corridor Advisory Committe Article 11/12/08

I35 Corridor Advisory Committee Final Report 11/12/08

2008-2011 TxDOT Statewide Transportation Improvement Program for Bexar County

2009-2013 TxDOT Strategic Plan for Texas Transportation Issues

© 2008 South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission:

November 14, 2008

Lawmaker files bill to repeal Texas Corridor

by By Fred Afflerbach
Temple Daily Telegram

A San Antonio lawmaker filed a bill that would repeal the establishment and operation of the Trans-Texas Corridor. It’s not the first time he’s done so. In the 2007 legislative session, Rep. David Leibowitz filed an identical bill, but it languished in the House Transportation Committee without a hearing.

Leibowitz spokesman Rob Borja said the legislation may have a better fate the second time around. At least four of the nine committee members will change this session, including the chairman. “Probably most important is there will be a new chairman, because the old chairman Mike Krusee wouldn’t let any bills that were sort of anti-toll road or anti-Trans-Texas Corridor even get a hearing,” Borja said.

If signed into law, H.B. 11 would make the corridor a non-entity, taking it off the state statute, Borja said.

Leibowitz, a harsh critic of the TTC, filed the bill Monday, the first day lawmakers could file legislation for the 2009 session, which begins Jan. 13.

Ralph Sheffield, newly elected state representative for District 55 which includes most of Bell County, said he would not comment without seeing the bill but remained steadfast in his opposition to the TTC.

“I am totally opposed to the corridor,” Sheffield said from Austin on Thursday morning. “We’ll fight for everyone’s property rights in regards to that. I haven’t changed my stance on that. We need to solve our transportation needs, but that’s (TTC) not the right process.”

State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, also represents Bell County at the state capitol. He couldn’t be reached Thursday, but opposed the TTC in previous statements. He supports improving the state’s current highway system rather than building the corridor.

A commission of elected city and school officials from Bell and Milam County is fighting the corridor by confronting TxDOT on environmental issues. Mae Smith, president of the Eastern Central Texas Sub-regional Planning Commission, said her group would continue to demand transparency from TxDOT regarding the environmental impact study now under way.

When the study is complete, a TxDOT official said they will make it public from 30 to 45 days before sending it to the Federal Highway Administration for an up or down vote on whether to build the corridor.

If the Federal Highway Administration approves building the corridor, then a phase two study will commence, which determines the final site.

© 2008 Temple Daily Telegram:

November 9, 2008

Call America 2008

Coordinating America's Local leaders

November 13-15 at the Renaissance Austin Hotel in Austin, Texas

Hosted by the American Land Foundation and Stewards of the Range

Local leaders are gathering in Austin, Texas, to share their experiences and VICTORIES brought about by our powerful “coordination” strategy.

This is the most important meeting you can attend if you want to save your way of life. Through coordination, community leaders are requiring state and federal agencies to work directly with them at the local level ensuring their local economy, private property, and American way of life is protected.

For more information click [HERE]

© 2008 Stewards of the

November 3, 2008

South Central Texas SRPC Holds First Coordination meeting with TXDOT

Marion City Council votes unanimously joins SCSRPC

On Monday November 3, 2008 the Marion City Council voted unanimously to join our efforts on the SCTSRPC. We welcome them to the table and look forward to making sure their concerns are heard. They will most certainly be a valuable addition to our Commission.

Next meeting: December 18, 2008 2pm St Hedwig City Hall Agenda TBD

We had a great initial Coordination meeting with TXDOT on October 29, 2008 which lasted approximately 2 hours in length.

A substantial amount of discussion was had between our Commission and TXDOT relating specifically to the TTC-35 and how it could possibly affect St. Hedwig and our neighbors. Others present at the meeting were representatives from Marion City Council, East Central ISD, St. Hedwig Fire Department, La Vernia City Council and La Vernia ISD.

We will have a second Coordination meeting with TXDOT in January 2009, date TBD, to discuss in more detail the traffic issues that need to be addressed relating to the expansion of 1604, TTC-35, and other issues. The intent of this meeting is for the 391 Commission to come to the table with specific issues and to offer solutions to those issues, thus making TXDOT completely aware of the cause and effect of any new construction of state roads or expansion of existing roads within our area.

We in the St. Hedwig, Wilson County area and our neighbors will no longer be ignored when it comes to federal and state agencies making changes in our area without them first having a true understanding of what those changes mean to our citizens. We appreciate TXDOT coming out to St. Hedwig’s City Hall for our initial as well as follow up meeting, and look forward to working closely with them not only now, but for many years to come.

Now if we could just have our local radio and television stations start referring to us by name (St. Hedwig) instead of East Bexar County….. we are after all 30.1 square miles in size, second only to San Antonio as the largest incorporated City Limits in Bexar County….but one thing at a time I suppose.

Kathy Palmer, President SCTSRPC

Commissioners are as follows:

President Kathy Palmer Chairman St. Hedwig Planning and Zoning Commission
Vice President Mary Jo Dylla St. Hedwig Mayor
Secretary/Treasurer Susann Baker St. Hedwig City Council woman

Ralph Gerhart Wilson County Resident

Larry Wiley Wilson County Commissioner

Judge Marvin Quinney Wilson County Judge

Kathy Palmer has been invited to be part of the Call America 2008 Annual Conference “Coordinating America’s Local Leaders” in Austin, TX Nov. 13-15. She will be a guest speaker as well as participating along with 2 members of other Texas 391 Commissions and Dan Byfield President of the American Land Foundation in a Q&A panel on Friday during the “Bringing Control Home in Texas” session. For more information on the entire seminar click on

© 2008 South Central Texas SRPC:

October 31, 2008

Is Trans-Texas Corridor dead or only undead?

Fred Afflerbach
Temple Daily Telegram
Copyright 2008

Put a fork in it. That’s what two Texas politicians recently said about the controversial Trans-Texas Corridor.

“Everybody in Austin knows it’s dead. Everybody across the state knows it’s dead. It’s just something to be talking about,” House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, said at a debate in Midland on Oct. 19, according to a published report.

But folks fighting the corridor here in Central Texas call it election season bluster.

“Yes, they are still planning to do it,” said Mae Smith, Holland mayor. “That’s nothing but political talk. I don’t believe anything Mr. Craddick says, or any politician says prior to election.”

Ms. Smith is also president of the Eastern Central Texas Sub-regional Planning Commission, a group of mayors and school board members who are working to stop the corridor by pushing environmental impact studies. The commission says expansion of Interstate 35 is a viable alternative.

“We’re not denying there is a traffic problem. But keep it in the footprint of I-35 . . . and not destroy our prime farm land, school districts and towns,” Ms. Smith said.

A spokeswoman for Craddick responded Thursday.

“The House overwhelmingly voted to place a moratorium on the Trans-Texas Corridor because of various issues that were raised, such as property rights and toll roads. Currently, the House Transportation Committee, the House Appropriations Committee and the Sunset Advisory Commission, as well as the state auditor, have been investigating these matters. It is clear from what has come back from these committees that the Trans-Texas Corridor will be addressed once and for all in this next session of the Legislature.”

And that worries folks like Ms. Smith. Once the election is over, the Legislature will go back to work pushing the corridor.

Speaking from the Milam County seat of Cameron on Wednesday, State Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan - not up for re-election until 2010 - said he agreed with Craddick’s statement.

“I think the speaker had it right the other day when he said, ‘I think everybody knows it’s dead,’” Ogden said.

Rather than a Trans-Texas Corridor for utilities, motor vehicles and trains, Ogden believes efforts will be directed toward developing an interstate-quality highway from South Texas to East Texas parallel to Interstate 35.

Again, Ms. Smith said the commission adamantly opposes any new thoroughfare east of I-35, through the Blackland Prairie.

“They’re still wanting to stick it right on top of us. A smaller version, even more so, should go right in the footprint of 35.”

Another commission member and a small business owner, Ralph Snyder, said Craddick and Ogden supported the corridor from its inception and they weren’t changing direction now.

“It’s just a way to keep the people placated for the present time. It’s election time,” Snyder said. “It’s a done deal. It’s been a done deal for years.”

But Snyder isn’t saying raise the white flag. He says the commission could have some impact how and where the final project is built.

Meanwhile, down at the Texas Department of Transportation, spokesman Chris Lippincott said TxDOT was waiting on the results of an environmental impact study the Federal Highway Administration is conducting.

“It is a big complicated study,” Lippincott said. “It’s a big project.”

After the study is completed in early 2009, Lippincott said TxDOT would open the discussion for public comment. He would not elaborate on Craddick’s statement.

© 2008 Temple Daily Telegram:

October 27, 2008

Is Trans-Texas Corridor a dead issue?

Craddick's declaration at debate fuels speculation - and a complicated answer.

By Ben Wear
Austin American-Statesman
Copyright 2008

"Everybody in Austin knows it's dead. Everybody across the state knows it's dead. It's just something to be talking about."— Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick, Oct. 19, 2008

The "it" in that quote, uttered during a Midland debate last week with the Democratic challenger for Craddick's House seat, Bill Dingus, referred to the Trans-Texas Corridor.

When I heard about this early last week, my first reaction was, "Really? Uh-oh." As in, the Texas Department of Transportation quietly killed the whole effort to build a tollway parallel to Interstate 35 and another tollway from Brownsville to Texarkana called Interstate 69, and the Statesman's transportation reporter missed the whole thing. Big uh-oh.

And I figured that for those farmers and ranchers whose property is along the broadly defined corridors of TTC-35 and I-69, Craddick's words had to be a relief. I could envision them cracking open a cold one to celebrate the news that their grandbabies would still be working the land in 60 years.

Not so fast.

Turns out that accurately interpreting Craddick's words depends on the meaning of "it" and the definition of "dead."

I called Craddick's office and got his spokeswoman, Alexis DeLee, on the phone. So, I asked, are TTC-35 and I-69 dead? Is that what the speaker was saying? Because if so, then TxDOT, which has agency employees, consultants and two private toll road consortiums working on various environmental and engineering plans for both roads, is wasting a lot of money.

"We're not getting into I-69," DeLee said, adding that I-69 wasn't in the Trans-Texas Corridor plan. She didn't want to talk about TTC-35 much either. "The comment he made was about the Trans-Texas Corridor as it relates to its original plan laid out by Ric Williamson. And that is dead."

Actually, that original plan was laid out by Gov. Rick Perry at a Jan. 28, 2002, news conference, not by the late state Transportation Commission chairman (though Williamson tirelessly pushed for it). And the original map for the 4,000 miles of tollways, railways and utilities across the state clearly shows a corridor along I-69's route.

Here's the deal: Rural folks, including those in Craddick's district, hate the Trans-Texas Corridor. So Craddick was selling what people at that debate were raring to buy. And the truth is that in the six years since Perry's announcement, TxDOT hasn't lifted a finger to work on most of the lines on that corridor map. Who needs parallel tollways to roads like I-10 and I-20 with sparse traffic? No one.

And the railroad and utility aspects of the corridor plan have gone nowhere as well.

So, yes, overall, the Perry/Williamson Trans-Texas Corridor is dead.

But two pieces of it — TTC-35 and I-69 — the proposed tollways that have roiled Texas for three or four years, are very much alive. So hold off on sending flowers.

Getting There appears Mondays. For questions, tips or story ideas, contact Getting There at 445-3698 or

© 2008 Austin American-Statesman:

October 23, 2008

EPA In Corrigan To Hear Concerns About I-69 TTC

By Christel Phillips
Copyright 2008

CORRIGAN, TX - A draft environmental impact statement prepared by TxDOT is at the heart of the I-69 Trans Texas Corridor debate. Members of the Trinity Neches Sub-Regional Planning Committee want to send TxDOT back to the drawing board.

Bob Dickens, President of the Trinity Neches Sub-Regional Planning Committee says, "We don't think the law and regulations were followed and we do not think TxDOT has taken into consideration the impact of the environment, our wildlife, our water districts, our cities, our school districts, and in essence, our way of life."

That's why the Sub-Regional Planning Committee met with the Environmental Protection Agency. The committee wants the EPA to use thier expertise to persuade TxDOT to do a better job in researching the projected highway building area.

Cathy Gilmore, Chief of the EPA Office Planning and Coordination says, "Our place is really to look at the environmental aspects of the project and whether or not they've addressed our concerns."

Pennington Water District services about 900 customers in East Texas, they told the EPA that the TTC would come straight through their water line causing a serious problems for residents.

Bill Wagner, Represenative for Pennington Water District says, "From what we hear there will be no on and off ramps to access the customers. It will stop service to new customers, it will stop maintenence, it's going to have a major impact on us."

Bottom line, the committee wants to TxDOT to redraft their environmental impact statement and address their concerns in the revision.

"We hope we presented adequate information where they will study it, re-think it and go with the I-59 Corridor," says Wagner.

The planning committee hopes that TxDOT will be able to meet with them next month so they can address today's concerns to them as well.

© 2008 KTRE-TV:

October 22, 2008

More on Craddick saying TTC is "dead"

Susan Rigdway Garry
Anti-Corridor/Rail Expansion (ACRE)
Copyright 2008

The ACRE message about the quote from House Speaker Craddick that the Trans-Texas Corridor was “dead” has prompted interesting comments. Some who commented were concerned that people would think because Craddick said the Corridor was “dead” we didn’t have to struggle against it anymore. This is not the case; we do need to continue our efforts.

The quote is significant because Craddick had never said anything like this about the Corridor before. It is significant that so many politicians, including Craddick, in this campaign season think it is necessary for them to oppose the Corridor in order to get elected. This is a big change. When we started fighting against the Corridor, politicians weren’t saying this. This means that we are making progress.

We can’t say that the Corridor is dead until it is officially killed legislatively. So we all need to continue working toward this end, but I think it is encouraging that more and more politicians are coming out against it in their campaigns.

Here are comments from representatives of some of the organizations that have been in the forefront of the fight against the Corridor.

DAN BYFIELD, American Land Foundation:

“Don't believe that the TTC is dead. Politicians will say anything to get re-elected. Mr. Craddick had the opportunity the past two sessions to kill this, but why would he now reveal that it's dead? The Legislature is the only body capable of ‘killing’ the TTC, but they're not in session.

What is very revealing about this statement is his need, like so many other politicians running for office, to say anything about the Trans-Texas Corridor - especially something this negative. He realizes it is a hot button issue with his constituents and fellow House members (who will be voting for him for Speaker), otherwise he would never have mentioned it on the campaign stump.

We are making a difference, but if Mr. Craddick and others who voted for the TTC get back into office, nothing will change and the TTC will live on.”

AGNES VOGES, Blackland Coalition:

“I doubt seriously that Craddick has the truth in this matter. Granted, TTC may have hit a snag or two, but one way or the other, it is still happening. Again, the LAW has to be changed before this thing is dead. If not, then there is nothing that will keep it from being resuscitated at any time they can get their fingers on some money.”

LINDA STALL, Corridor Watch

“The law creating TTC remains and it should be changed . . . and some oversight legislation for PPPs put in place. We are hearing from a few people around the state that their Counties are getting into strangely oversized road projects, and we are concerned that the push will shift to developing ‘County projects’ that then are shifted to TxDOT and linked together . . . TTC under the radar.

“It is nice to hear that Craddick realizes it’s in his interest to say the Corridor is dead. I am always leery when a leadership official says something like that, just in case he's trying to get people to stop speaking out . . . and to undermine his opposition candidate's ability to make political mileage out of the Corridor as an issue.”

TERRI HALL, San Antonio Toll Party and TURF:

“Craddick's comments are no more true than saying the sun won't rise tomorrow. This is an election year, period. NO law has been changed or policies reversed to prove this statement correct. In fact, they've gone underground and are cheating in how they're supplementing the environmental record to make it appear they'll use existing right of way for TTC-69 using clever language rife with get of jail free cards. Also, TTC-35 is barreling forward unabated.

“It's huge he [Craddick] even feels the need to say it to get re-elected!”

© 2008 ACRE:

October 20, 2008

Top leader says Trans-Texas Corridor is dead

Patrick Driscoll
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2008

In a debate last night, Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick tried to put a gaping chasm between him and the governor's prized Trans-Texas Corridor and went on to say the project's dead, a television station reported.

"I want to clear this up. I did not vote for the Trans-Texas Corridor and you're welcome to look at the voting records," he said in a broadcast by KXAN in Austin.

Then Craddick, a Republican who was debating his Democratic opponent, Bill Dingus, in Midland, stuck a fork in the Trans-Texas Corridor and declared the ambitious plan done, according to KXAN.

"Everybody in Austin knows it's dead," he said. "Everybody across the state knows it's dead. It's just something to be talking about."

The broad network of toll lanes, rail lines and utility corridors was unveiled by Perry, also Republican, six years ago as the state's 21st Century map for new pathways. A strategy to fund it with private financing was hailed by free marketers nationwide and jeered by a spectrum of naysayers such as farmers and environmentalists.

View the KXAN broadcast: [HERE]

© 2008 The San Antonio Express-News:

October 16, 2008

Groups warn TTC projects still alive


Country World News
Copyright 2008

Recent reports of the demise of the Trans-Texas Corridor-69 have been greatly exaggerated by the state’s transportation department, according to a sub-regional planning commission formed to take on the massive highway project.
Connie Fogle with the Trinity-Neches Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission said an announcement by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) that recommended upgrading U.S. Highway 59 to an Interstate, rather than build the TTC-69 corridor, was simply a diversionary tactic.

“They wanted to put the people in East Texas minds at ease, but the new corridor alternative is anything but off the table,” Fogle said. “TxDOT is still very much considering the new corridor.”

The commission recently received a letter from Dennis Cooley, TxDOT’s District Engineer from Lufkin, indicating that the new corridor alternative will remain in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) that it will submit to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) for final approval.

The letter from Cooley states that TxDOT will only recommend advancing the TTC-69 project along existing highway facilities where it is practical.
“The key word is ‘practical,’” Fogle said. “That gives them the leeway to decide where it’s practical and where it isn’t. They’re ready to put that into the Final Environmental Impact Statement, but the truth is, they haven’t made a study of the (project’s) impact on the environment. We had a meeting scheduled with EPA about this very matter, but we had to postpone it because of Hurricane Ike. But we’re not going to let it go.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry proposed the Trans-Texas Corridor in 2002 as a series of six-lane highways with separate high-speed rail lines, truck lanes and utility corridors criss-crossing the state. Each corridor could be as wide as 1,200 feet.

The Governor and TxDOT have promoted the TTC as a solution to the state’s transportation problems, but the project has met with formidable opposition, particularly in rural parts of the state where the corridors would have the biggest impact on small towns and agricultural interests.

The first leg of the proposed TTC system is TTC-35, which would run about 600 miles from Gainesville to Laredo, roughly parallel to IH-35.

TTC-69 would run generally southwest to northeast along a 650-mile long route first mapped for IH-69, from the Gulf Coast to Texarkana.

In the past year, several sub-regional planning groups have formed under the authority of Texas Local Government Code, Chapter 391, which requires state agencies “to the greatest extent feasible” to coordinate with local commissions to “ensure effective and orderly implementation of state programs at the regional level.”

An Eastern Central Texas commission was formed in August of 2007 to challenge TTC-35. The Trinity-Neches Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission was formed in February of 2008 in response to TTC-69. There are now nine such planning commissions in the state.

“There is a lot at stake here,” Fogle said. “Once you concrete over that much land, it’s not coming back. You’ve lost all that agricultural land, plus, here in East Texas we have a lot of timber, and hunting is big business here too.”

In a June 11 press release, Texas Transportation Commissioner Ted Houghton said public input on I-69 led the commission to recommend using existing infrastructure whenever possible along the I-69 corridor.

“When needs are identified in the I-69 corridor, we will look at existing infrastructure and work with local officials to upgrade that facility to meet transportation needs,” Houghton said. “It just makes sense. As Texans pointed out to us, a facility built on new location may be unnecessary when an existing one can be improved to handle demand.”

Fogle said the Trinity-Neches sub-regional commission is not buying it.

“We believe, based on the way TxDOT has handled this from the first, that they are just saying that so people will think it (the new corridor proposal) is off the table,” she said. “They’re building this around a plan, not a need. We think they’re going to stick with the original plan if everybody eases up on them because they think they’re only going to use upgrade existing facilities.”

© 2008 Country World News:

September 29, 2008

TTC-69 “New Corridor” Alternative Not off the table!

Connie Fogle

Press Release
Trinity-Neches Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission (TNT SRPC)
Copyright 2008

“Even though TXDOT has said the ‘New Corridor’ alternative will not be chosen for the Trans-Texas Corridor 69, we have proof that it is not off the table and could be chosen in the future,” announced Trinity-Neches Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission (TNT) President, Bob Dockens.

TNT recently received a letter from Dennis Cooley, TxDOT’s District Engineer from Lufkin, stating that the new corridor alternative would still be a part of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) when submitted for approval from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA).

Just a few months ago, TXDOT announced in a major publicity campaign that they would not be recommending the “new corridor” alternative, but would recommend upgrading U.S. 59 to Interstate status as their “preferred alternative” when submitting the FEIS.

“That was a masterful slight-of-hand by TXDOT,” commented Commission Associate, Connie Fogle. Although TxDOT’s announcement appeased lawmakers and some local officials, TNT officials found an FHA regulation that allows TXDOT to go back to the “new corridor” alternative after the study has been approved by the FHA.

Cooley’s letter to the Commission confirms that the new corridor is still a real threat to the local area stating; “the effort made to evaluate the new corridors will be captured in the body of the Tire One FEIS report as an option considered; however, TXDOT will be only recommending advancing the I69 project along existing highway facilities where practical (emphasis added).”

Cooley’s statement confirms that the new corridor alternative will still be a part of the final study. TNT found the regulation (23 CFR 771.127 (b)) that allows the agency to change their preferred alternative after a study has been approved as long as that alternative has been studied in the original document.

Should the Federal Highway Administration approve the FEIS with both the “existing facilities” and “new corridor” alternatives in the final report, TNT believes TXDOT will use this legal loophole to build a new TTC 69 rather than use existing highways. TNT also points out that the word “practical” in Cooley’s letter gives TXDOT total discretion as to whether they use existing facilities.

“We will have lost the opportunity to have meaningful input into the impacts this will have corridor on our local area and economy once the final FEIS is approved with both alternatives. That’s unacceptable,” commented Dockens.

Trinity-Neches Texas
Sub-Regional Planning Commission
500 W. Church. Livingston, TX 77351
Bob Dockens, President

© 2008 Trinity-Neches Texas

September 19, 2008

TNT Sub-Regional Planning Commission meeting with EPA Rescheduled

KTRE-TV (Lufkin / Nacodoches)
Copyright 2008

The Trinity-Neches Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission's September 16th meeting in Corrigan, with the EPA has canceled due to the hurricane. The meeting will be rescheduled for sometime in October.

© 2008 KTRE:

September 17, 2008

South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission Meets Next Week

Next meeting: September 23, 2008 2pm. St. Hedwig City Hall Agenda 9/23/08

Wilson County and the City of Saint Hedwig have joined together to create the ninth 391 Sub-Regional Planning Commission in the State of Texas, the first in the ACOG Region 18. We had our first meeting on July 31, 2008.

Commissioners are as follows:

President Kathy Palmer St. Hedwig Planning and Zoning Commissioner
Vice President Mary Jo Dylla St. Hedwig Mayor
Secretary/Treasurer Susann Baker St. Hedwig City Council woman

Ralph Gerhart Wilson County Resident

Larry Wiley Wilson County Commissioner

Judge Marvin Quinney Wilson County Judge

SCTRSPC Press Release

TXDOT Coordination Letter

SA Express News Article


July 08 Minutes

© 2008 City of St. Hedwig:

September 10, 2008

Planning committee meeting with EPA about Trans-Texas Corridor

By Mystic Matthews
KTRE-TV (Lufkin / Nacodoches)
Copyright 2008

GROVETON, TX - The Trinity-Neches Texas Sub-Regional Planning Committee, or TNT, is set to meet with the Environmental Protection Agency next week.

TNT says TxDOT has not given enough thought to the environmental impact of the corridor, and they need the EPA to examine the findings they will get from TxDOT about the TTC.

"We're not in opposition to improvement and expansion. We just want to make sure it's done right because once you cover up rural Texas with concrete you can't change it back," says Connie Fogle with TNT.

The Trans-Texas Corridor is expected to use thousands of acres in East Texas if it's built and TNT wants to make sure they realize the impact that it will have on human and animal life.

TNT says TxDOT'S plan is flawed and they want changes made before they will support the plan.

© 2008 WorldNow and
Highway plans spurs formation of group

Elaine Ayo
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2008

St. Hedwig has homes on large lots and a longtime tradition of rural living. And folks there want to keep it that way.

“We want to be able to maintain as best we can the reason we moved out here in the first place,” said Kathy Palmer, the city’s planning and zoning commissioner.

But a new master plan and recently updated zoning maps are no match for a proposed route of Trans-Texas Corridor 35 that would slice straight through the city of about 2,000 people and create headaches for several city departments, officials said.

With neighboring Wilson County, St. Hedwig has created the South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission , the ninth such commission formed in the state since last year and the first in the San Antonio area.

St. Hedwig officials say the commission is a way to ensure the state hears their concerns about the corridor proposal, which follows FM 1518 and cuts across the western third of the town’s 30 square miles.

An alternate route being considered would follow Interstate 35. None of the routes for the proposed network of statewide toll roads have been finalized.

State law allows the creation of such commissions and requires state agencies to coordinate plans with them “to the greatest extent feasible.” “The term ‘coordination’ is actually very important,” said Dan Byfield, president of the American Land Foundation, an organization dedicated to protecting property rights. “It creates a great amount of power for the local unit of government, that (the state must) work with them. They can’t ignore them.”

Byfield and his wife, Margaret Byfield , executive director of another property rights organization called Stewards of the Range, have been helping local governments in the proposed paths of two TTC projects running between Mexico and the Dallas-Fort Worth area and between Mexico and the Texarkana-Shreveport area.

Concerns over the corridor route may have sparked the formation of the commission, but its potential impact is broader, Wilson County Commissioner Larry Wiley said.

“What we’re wanting is to put ourselves on a more level playing field with other government agencies, to represent the health, safety and welfare of the city, of our county,” Wiley said.

The South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission had its first meeting July 31 and has another scheduled for Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. at the St. Hedwig City Hall at 13065 FM 1346.

Board members want to finish devising the structure of the commission before inviting other area entities to join, Palmer said.

“It’s making folks aware we’re not just a little Podunk city and you can’t run us over,” Palmer said. “We have a plan.”

Portions © 2008 KENS 5 and the San Antonio Express-News:

August 28, 2008

TTC plans for U.S. Hwy. 59 may not come to fruition

The Nacodoches Daily Sentinel

The Pineywoods Sub-Regional Planning Commission met Thursday to hear a presentation by the commission's president, Hank Gilbert, who said the plans to move the Trans-Texas Corridor to the current U.S. Hwy. 59 location may not come to fruition.

The Texas Department of Transportation initially planned to build a new highway system, which would have been as large as 1,200-feet wide, that would run through rural areas of East Texas, including Nacogdoches County. However, TxDOT scrapped those plans in June and announced a new proposal to build the TTC along the existing route of U.S. Hwy 59.

But Gilbert, of the anti-corridor activist group TexasTURF, said TxDOT has not provided new documentation detailing the potential effects of building the TTC on the new site, and he also said the current proposal could still allow TxDOT to build the TTC in the original proposed location.

"If TxDOT gets the approval on the (draft environmental impact statement) as is, they can come back and build the highway wherever they want to," he said. "They can come back and say, 'The Federal Highway Administration said we're good to go, but we don't want to use U.S. Hwy. 59 anymore.' And there's nothing we can do about it."

For this reason, Gilbert and the PWSRPC is requesting a supplemental draft environmental impact statement that takes into account the effects of building the TTC along U.S. Hwy. 59. The commission has already requested meetings with Amadeo Saenz, executive director of TxDOT, and Richard Greene, regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. Gilbert said there has been no response from either organization.

Gilbert argued that, by law, TxDOT must prepare a new DEIS from scratch, now that plans have changed. Doug Booher, the TxDOT environmental manager, refuted his claim, saying the final environmental impact statement, which will be released for public review at the end of 2008 or early next year, will include the necessary revisions to avoid starting over.

Because the PWSRPC did not have enough voting members in attendance to form a quorum, Gilbert did not receive approval to send new letters to the EPA and TxDOT requesting a meeting. The PWSRPC will meet again at 4p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11, at the county courthouse.

Before the next meeting, Gilbert asked group members to research facts about how the TTC's new location on U.S. Hwy 59 would affect the county.

"What's the loss going to be to the school districts affected, the water districts affected?" he said. "How many acres will be lost in Nacogdoches County? What's the economic impact of the loss of those acres, in hard dollars? What will be the impact on endangered plants and endangered animals in the area?"

Gilbert said he will incorporate this new data into an updated draft of the letter to the EPA and TxDOT.

"This isn't your mom and dad's interstate," Gilbert said. "This is nobody's interstate."

© 2008 Nachdoches Daily
Piney Woods Sub-Regional Planning Commission Meets

By Mystic Matthews
KTRE (Lufkin)
Copyright 2008

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The Trans-Texas Corridor is coming through Nacogdoches County, but the Piney Woods Sub-Regional Planning Commission wants to make sure it's done right.

In Thursday's meeting, they discussed how the commission can coordinate with the local and federal governments about transportation in the county.

President Hank Gilbert spoke to a packed house Thursday.

He recently submitted a letter to TXDot, on behalf of the commission, that has gone unanswered.

In Thursday's meeting, they decided to send another letter.

Gilbert says the purpose is to let TXDot know they will have to coordinate and answer to the commission for any future plans involving the Trans-Texas Corridor in Nacogdoches County.

"There's a lot of disgruntled people and a lot of concerned people here in Nacogdoches County. They are concerned about their way of life, concerned about what's going to happen to their heritage and their history and their community with this highway. To get actively involved they need to be a part of this organization. Come to our meetings get behind what we're doing."

As a planning commission, they have privileges of a local government, meaning TXDot is required to coordinate with them on a regional level.

The Piney Woods Sub-Regional Planning Commission wants to make sure, even though they are ultimately against it, that I-69 is built on their terms in their county.

© 2008
Waller City Council discusses city issues at monthly meeting

Waller County News-Citizen
Copyright 2008

WALLER - Waller City councilman Maurice Hart gave an update to the Waller County Sub-Regional Planning Commission at the council meeting on Monday night, August 18.

The commission was originally set up as a tool to fight the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) proposed Interstate 69. Hart noted that in the last meeting, members elected officers and discussed future plans, beyond the TTC.

"We decided to get other cities within the county to join the commission," Hart said. Some of the cities the commission approached included Pattison, Brookshire, and Katy.

While Pattison and Brookshire have tentatively agreed to join, there is hope that Katy will join as well.

Hart noted there are other issues the commission can discuss besides the TTC, particularly the drainage concern in the area.

"It looks like it [TTC] is going to bypass us, but it still might affect us," Hart explained.

"And we have [drainage] issues in the city, but we need to address those elsewhere," he added. "What can the commission do to help with the downstream water flow? Something has to be done beyond Waller.

"We can open up the drains outside of town, but until we can get the water somewhere, we will flood somebody else out."

© 2008 Waller County

August 26, 2008

Grimes County Commissioners Appoint Representative to 391 Commission

The Navasota Examiner
Copyright 2008

Grimes County Commissioners lifted the county-wide burn ban, appointed a representative to their sub-regional planning commission, accepted rights-of-way donations and agreed to administer a $250,000 grant for Wickson Creek Special Utility District in mostly routine business Monday.

John Bertling volunteered to serve as the county’s representative on the Grimes County Chapter 391 sub-regional planning commission, which was officially created at the Aug. 11 commissioners’ court meeting.

© 2008, The Navasota Examiner:

August 23, 2008

National Geographic recognizes our soil, not the danger to it


Susan Rigdway Garry
Anti-Corridor/Rail Expansion (ACRE)
Copyright 2008

The September issue of National Geographic has an interesting article, “Our Good Earth,” on the soils of the world and the dangers to them.

If you have access to this issue, please see the map on page 92 and notice how TTC-35 and the NAFTA Superhighway will create a path of destruction all along our nation’s most valuable farm land.

Even though National Geographic ranked this soil as one of the “most highly fertile soils in the world,” the article did not mention the imminent threat to it posed by TTC-35, even though it covered threats to some other soils.

The article is online at in the September issue. I can’t find the map online. It is on page 92 in the print edition. [See the scanned image below]


I have sent the letter below to the magazine. Perhaps if more of us write, National Geographic will recognize the importance of this topic.

Blackland Prairie TTC
Blackland Prairie: DARK GREEN
Trans-Texas Corridor Priority corridors:

To the Editor of National Geographic:

Regarding “Our Good Earth” in the September 2008 issue, one imminent danger not covered in your article is the Trans-Texas Corridor, which is underway in Texas and forms the first stage of the NAFTA Superhighway. Your map on page 92 illustrates that one of the largest areas of the most highly fertile soils in the world begins at the Texas-Mexico border and runs north to the northern Midwest.

Much of this Blackland Prairie in Texas, from the Mexican border to the Oklahoma border, is slated to be paved over by the Trans-Texas Corridor route called TTC-35—an almost quarter-mile wide swath of 10 vehicular lanes, 6 rail lines, and pipeline and utility zones. It is proposed to proceed north from Texas as the NAFTA Superhighway, covering hundreds of thousands of acres of the world’s best farmland, right through the middle of “the world’s breadbasket.”

Texas farmers, ranchers, and other rural residents have been fighting the Corridor for years, and we would like to alert the rest of the country, indeed the world, that one of the largest areas of “Good Earth” in existence is in extreme danger from an unnecessary project that benefits only those who will profit monetarily from its construction, while permanently depriving the world’s population of this invaluable resource.

It is very easy to send a letter to the editor of National Geographic through

© 2008, ACRE: