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:

August 21, 2008

Groups claiming TxDOT falsified toll project studies

August 21, 2008

Country World News
Copyright 2008

Members of a Central Texas sub-regional planning commission believe they have found a "smoking gun" that proves the state's transportation department alledgely falsified an environmental study on the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor.

The development comes from a lawsuit filed by Texans United for Reform (TURF) over a Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) proposal to convert part of U.S. Highway 281 into a toll road. TURF members allege that TxDOT emails show that the department "rigged" the environmental work for the 281 project to pre-determine a finding of "No Significant Impact" before the study began.

Members of the Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission, which was formed to make sure the state involves people affected by the TTC in the process, believe the allegations by TURF are significant because it shows that TxDOT has done with the 281 study exactly what the commission has accused TxDOT of doing in relation to the corridor proposal.

"What TURF and the Edwards Aquifer Guardians have uncovered shows that the conclusion was there before the study was even done," commission member Ralph Snyder of Holland said at a meeting of the commission on Aug. 12. "They cherry-picked the information to arrive at the conclusion they want.

"This is the most important thing to happen since the inception of the TTC-35. It makes our case by showing that they (TxDOT) worked all along toward a pre-determined conclusion."

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

Perry, TxDOT and others have touted the corridors as a solution to the state's transportation problems, but opposition has arisen on several fronts, particularly in the rural parts of the state where the corridors would have the biggest impact.

The sub regional planning commissions are local groups formed in response to 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."

The Eastern Central Texas commission was formed in August of last year to challenge TTC-35, the first leg of the proposed TTC system, which would run about 600 miles from Gainesville to Laredo, roughly parallel to IH-35. Eight other such groups have formed across the state, most of them in East Texas where another leg of the TTC, TTC-69, has been proposed.

The commission has asked for a supplemental report from TxDOT, which in turn has asked the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) if it has to conduct the supplemental report. The commission received a reply from Janice Weingart Brown, division administrator for the FHA on Aug. 6.

"I can assure you that concerns that you have raised will be addressed in our Final EIS (Environmental Impact Study)," Brown wrote. "FHWA is also independently reviewing and considering the environmental documents being prepared by TxDOT.

"Based on the public involvement meetings that have been conducted and our review and analysis of comments, we firmly believe we are following the prescribed processes and regulations under NEPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the Council on Environmental Quality."

Margaret Byfield with the American Land Foundation, a private property rights group working with the sub-regional planning commissions, noted that the letter is dated one day before the allegations over TURF's 281 lawsuit broke. She added that the letter really doesn't comment on the commission's request for a supplemental report.

"It makes no commitment," she said. "It infers that it will address our concerns in the TIER 2 study, which is too late. TIER 1 approves the building of the highway. TIER 2 is concerned with where the highway will be built."

The commission voted unanimously to forward the letter to Fred Kelly Grant, attorney for the American Land Foundation.

Grant, who lives in Idaho, emailed commission members prior to the August meeting about the TURF 281 lawsuit. "I have already asked for documents from the discovery to include in a proposed augmentation petition for you to send to the federal highway administration," he wrote. "The inference of lack of credibility which is made in your original petition will now be actual, not just an inference."

The commission also received a copy of a May 2006 letter from then state conservationist Larry Butler to engineer Edward Pensock with TxDOT on farmland protection issues related to TTC.

In that letter, Butler said that the TTC project "will constitute the largest conversion of Prime Farmland for a single project in the history of Texas."

The letter also addressed the issue of small dams on private property that are designed to control flooding, noting that more than 260 of those small dams are located in the TTC-35 study area.

"Direct impacts include areas where the TTC-35 might eliminate the structure, causing roads, bridges, towns and houses to flood."

Current state conservationist Don Goihmert addressed the group last month and said the state's NRCS office would conduct a study for the group to further evaluate the impact of the TTC along specific routes identified by TxDOT.

© 2008 Country World

August 12, 2008

Commissioners officially approve 391 Commission


The Navasota Examiner
Copyright 2008

Grimes County Commissioners Monday unanimously approved the creation of the Grimes County Sub-Regional Planning Commission, following the City of Iola in becoming the second governing body in the county to do so.

Also called a 391 commission after the chapter of the Texas Local Government Code which authorizes such commissions, the county will be able to participate in interlocal agreements with other cities or counties within Region 13 of the Brazos Valley Council of Governments.

The county is expected to name its representative to the commission this month, and at least one member of the commissioners’ court must be appointed.

Specifically denied to 391 commissions is the power of eminent domain, but such commissions are expected to take an active role in looking out for the general health, safety and welfare of their residents.

The GCSRPC’s goal is to work with other governing bodies with similar concerns in planning for expanding population in the area, and to look after unique needs of the Grimes County region.

The commission is expected to be active in planning of transportation systems, adequate infrastructure, such as streets, sewer and water, agriculture, business and industrial needs, preservation of cultural and historical values, economic use of public funds and the general quality of life for the area’s residents.

The county is not required to fund any of the commission’s operations or distribute any of the commission’s funds. Also, all commission meetings are subject to the Texas Open Meetings Act.

The county may withdraw from the commission at any time by a majority vote of the commissioners’ court.

© 2008 The Navasota
South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission Update

August 12, 2008

Nannette Kilbey-Smith
Wilson County News
Copyright 2008

Mayor Dylla provided an update on the formation of the South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission. Current members are Wilson County and the city of St. Hedwig. Palmer is the commission's president, Dylla will serve as vice president, and Baker is the secretary.

The commission will allow St. Hedwig and Wilson County commissioners to discuss road improvements, maintenance, and new roads, as well as other issues, on a level footing with the Texas Department of Transportation.

The commission will meet Wednesday, Aug. 27, at 2 p.m. to discuss bylaws. The meeting is open to the public.

© 2008 The Wilson County
Anderson city council could get on board with 391 Commission

The Navasota Examiner
Copyright 2008

The Anderson City Council is expected to approve an ordinance establishing a 391 Sub-Regional Planning Commission at its Thursday, Aug. 14 meeting at 7 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Anderson.

© 2008 The Navasota

August 7, 2008

"Alliance for I-69, Zachry, and Spanish company ACS hit Victoria with their dog & pony show, and they've been in Austin hitting up lawmakers, too."

TTC-69 lobby group, Alliance for I-69, takes their show on the road

Terri Hall

Alliance for I-69 is the biggest pro-TTC-69 lobby group in the state. Their chief lobbyist, Gary Bushell, is also the same lobbyist TxDOT illegally hired with our taxpayer money to lobby elected officials in the path of the TTC-69.

Bushell is also a notable campaign contributor to MANY politicians, Bexar County Rep. Frank Corte among them. Today, Alliance for I-69 teamed up with Zachry, who along with Spanish company ACS won the development rights to TTC-69 in June, hit Victoria with their dog and pony show, and they've been in Austin hitting up lawmakers, too.

Their logo on the material they left with lawmakers even has a Canadian, Mexican, and U.S flag morphed together, yet TxDOT denies the Trans Texas Corridor is about NAFTA, international trade, the movement of freight/goods, or the economic integration of the three countries.

Link to article here.

© 2008, Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF):

August 6, 2008

"Should we declare victory and ignore the realities? In a word... NO!"

Have YOU drunk the TxDOT Kool-Aid?

Editorial: Martha Estes
Wharton Journal-Spectator

Numerous citizens along the TTC-69 route are expressing satisfaction about the recent news to the effect that "it’s over, we won". I find that conclusion very disturbing because it is a very dangerous mirage to buy into.

Yes, the Texas Transportation Commissioners and TxDOT bigwigs have ’told us’ that Waller Austin, Grimes, and Walker Counties are no longer being considered as a western TTC-69 loop around Houston. AND they have said that "wherever possible" they will follow the existing footprint and right of way of US 59 for the 600+ mile Trans-Texas Corridor 69 as it is developed from Laredo through East Texas to points on the Arkansas and Louisiana borders.

What they did not remind you of include the following established facts:
  • 1. House Bill 3588 remains law with the same design features & intent to auction off our public transportation assets to global consortiums for toll revenues.
  • 2. The governor’s appointees on the Texas Transportation Commission remain loyal to his transportation policies which include numerous TTC projects and the intent to assess other state roadways as toll road viable "commodities".
  • 3. CDAs or public-private partnerships with 50 year secretive contract terms remain the "financing tool of choice" with the Transportation Commissioners and TxDOT.
  • 4. The moratorium that prevents TxDOT from signing CDA contracts expires with the end of the 2009 session.
  • 5. The TTC-35 and TTC-69 continue to go forward with a TTC-69 $5 million design contract awarded by TxDOT on Jun 26, 2008 to Zachry & ACS (Actividades de Construcción y Servicios, S.A), Dragados, UBS, SICE, and Steer Davies Gleave.
  • 6. The eminent domain realities leave all Texas property owners helpless to control their properties or receive any particular assessed value for them in condemnation.
  • 7. No amendment exists to trigger an override session to overturn the governor’s vetoes with veto-proof legislative majorities.
  • 8. Reforms of the Texas Transportation Commission & TxDOT and restrictions on Trans-Texas Corridors & state toll roads will only happen if OUR legislators make changes in the laws in the 81st Session of the legislature beginning on January 13, 2009.
Now, does that sound as if we should declare victory and ignore the realities? In a word... NO, unless we want to lose the ground we have worked for. But it does suggest that we ALL have some important work to do to influence our legislators to protect our public transportation assets and shape transportation policy for the people of Texas.

© 2008, Wharton Journal-Spectator:

August 4, 2008

New ‘long haul’ transportation technology on the horizon

zachry ttc
A slide from the presentation shows the 2,000 mile stretches of guideways connecting Laredo, Corpus Christi, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio with the innovative freight transportation system. The plan is to have the system in place to take advantage of the expansion of the Panama Canal.

They Dayton News (Dayton, TX)

Readers recently read about new freight technology in the July 9 edition of Dayton News entitled “Freight shuttles can take the ‘long haul’ out of shipping.” That technology was further explained by senior project manager Gary Kuhn of Zachry American Infrastructure of San Antonio and Stephen S. Roop, Ph.D. and assistant agency director of the Texas Transportation Institute of The Texas A&M University System in College Station.

The two men were addressing the Liberty County Toll Road Authority (LCTRA) Board of Directors as well as an audience of interested persons and invited media. Members present included President Charlotte Warner, Vice President Dwayne B. Stovall, Asst. Secretary R.N. Smart, Director N. Dale Brown, Jr., Joe B. Allen and Jessica Jones, attorney and attorney assistant for LCTRA from the firm of Allen, Boone, Humphries, Robinson, LLP. Secretary Clifton Wilridge was not present.

Being discussed was a multimodal freight transportation device that moves freight up and down two-way guideways via linear induction motors powered electrically. The transports are unmanned, as was explained in the previous article.

“We all owe a lot to freight because it creates our opportunities to have goods and creates opportunities for economic development,” said Kuhn.

Kuhn began the presentation by explaining that normally three individuals would make the presentation but that one of their members was unavoidably detained.

“We’re one short on our normal ‘three musketeers’ as Ken Allen, who is the executive vice-president for H.E.B. and really wanted to be here, but a lady named ‘Dolly’ kind of messed everything up,” commented Kuhn. “And Charles Butt is real funny about making sure that there is milk on the table for the babies. So Ken sends his apologies and regrets that he can’t be here, and I will attempt to do his portion of the presentation.”

The presentation was broken down into three parts – Lemons, The New Juicer and Lemonade. Kuhn delivered parts one and three, while Roop took care of part two.

Kuhn spoke about transportation issues in that they had inefficiencies, public funding restraints, public focus on environmental issues and what he called a growing “psunami” of freight.

One of the more staggering statistics brought out by Kuhn dealt with the result of a company such as H.E.B. being able to reduce annual transportation freight miles from 60 million to 40 million. The 20 million miles saved would result in 3 million gallons less diesel being burned, 5,000 quarts less motor oil burned, 43,000 less quarts of motor oil that have to be managed, 125 lbs less rubber on highways to be washed into waterways and 2,000 less tires that do not have to be disposed of. The savings were staggering.

Kuhn also explained that the new technology was not competitive against the current trucking or rail industry, but supplemental. He explained how rail roads best service transportation needs to destinations greater than 600 miles. He also spoke of what he called Generation Y, or new truck drivers that don’t work to work nights, weekends or holidays and how the new technology would take the long haul out of the picture allowing this new generation of drivers the ability to be home each night while making shorter, but more numerous daily deliveries.

Safety and environmental issues served by having fewer trucks on the highways were also included.

The second part of the presentation, delivered by Stephen Roop detailed the history and development behind the new universal freight shuttle technology. Roop has been at Texas A&M for 20 years. He basically introduced the system by calling it a hybrid between trucking and railroading.

After laying out a lengthy history beginning in 1999 with federal funding for the study of a Texas Freight Tunnel with an underground rail for 450 miles from Dallas to Larado, to the Governor’s vision for the Trans Texas Corridor to 2008 when they plan to start construction of a demonstration project on donated land located in South Liberty County, to a target date of 2015 when they hope to have the proposed 2,000 miles of guideways connecting Dallas to San Antonio, Laredo, Corpus Christi and Houston with another line from Houston to San Antonio up and the network operational. The historical process was all about finding ways to ship more goods at less cost. The ill-fated beginning ideas formulated around underground transportation took a turn topside, coinciding with the Governor’s approach to major grade-separated corridors between markets in Texas, as the study group took a new approach.

“Wouldn’t this allow us to reconfigure this underground system that was never going to go anywhere,” explained Roop. “We could resize it, reshape it and put it up on the surface and begin operating it as a surface system. When we checked the economics of that, we found out they went from poor or marginally negative to almost investment grade returns and it would be very inexpensive to move freight in the system we’re talking about.”

Patents on some concepts were filed and Texas A&M created an entity through license agreements called The Freight Shuttle Development Corporation, formed in 2005. A year later, in Houston, Kuhn and Roop met for the first time at a railroad conference and began working towards the same goals.

Roop also showed conceptual artist productions of the system that would be 16 feet above ground and travel both ways in the median of the state’s interstate highways. He also spoke of a late development that had both he and the organization very excited.

“I-69 Master Development was awarded to Zachry this past month,” stated Roop. “It puts us at a new level in Texas with a tremendous amount of opportunity to capitalize and push forward the fact that Texas has been named the nation’s leading state for business. Part of that is the transportation system, the economy and the diversification of industry in the state. We think this is a very fertile area for what we are doing. And this year we will start a demonstration site at a location to be announced.”

Kuhn finished the presentation speaking to the tremendous capacity of the system, how it will be constructed using existing rights of way of the current highways system that is already in place, and how the goal to have everything up and running is by sometime in the year 2015.

© 2008, The Dayton
Cox addresses speed limits, other considerations at TTC meeting

Gainesville Daily Register

Though stalled in the water for now, discussion on the Trans-Texas Corridor 35 project continues, according to a report from Cooke County’s representative on the project.

Sheila Cox, who was a vocal opponent to the multi-modal toll road project when first presented to the public, was appointed to a regional corridor advisory committee last year. Cox submitted a summary of the advisory committee’s actions from July 23 in Austin, in which she said the project is far from being “dead.”

“... The TTC is still very much alive and continues as a threat to all Texans,” she said in her summary, which appeared in its entirety in the July 25 Register.

The next meeting of the advisory committee is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 21, a Thursday, in Austin (exact location TBA — most likely at the Greer Building on south side of the Capitol on 11th Street). The public is allowed to attend, Cox said, but are not allowed to speak or participate in the discussion.

She said she would like to see a good “delegation” from Cooke County at the Aug. 21 meeting.

“We’re designated at the convergence point for the Trans-Texas Corridor system, so we have much to lose by not being involved and much to gain if we are,” Cox said.

Chairs for guests are situated around the delegation room, while committee members are seated around tables, she noted, noting there is ample room.

Cox said there are usually five to 10 people watching the meetings. She noted Jan Johnson of Cooke County had attended the last two Austin meetings.

Though Cox’s summary of the July meeting had some sharp comments of her fellow committee members, she said feedback has been positive so far.

“I’ve had lots of people contact me, telling me they appreciate me for bringing them up to speed on what’s happening,” she said in an interview this morning.

According to Cox’s summary, the meeting agenda included presentations by two corporations who are members in NASCO (North American Super Corridor Coalition), Cox said. Those presentations were by Scott Braden, President of the Southwest and High Plains Divisions of McLane Trucking Company, and by Russell Laughlin, Vice President of Alliance Texas which is headed by Ross Perot. Both of these presentations included emphasis on the need for the NAFTA Super Highway as a trade route from Mexico through the United States and into Canada.

Also emphasized in these presentations was the role of the Trans-Texas Corridor in the implementation of an international express highway system.

In the question and answer wrap-up of Braden’s presentation, which had highlighted the requirements of major trucking firms, Cox said she asked what was the most cost-efficient miles-per-hour speed for trucks to travel. Braden replied, according to Cox, that 62 mph had been proven to be the most cost-efficient speed and at that speed even the pollution levels were less than at higher speeds.

Braden later indicated that his company’s truckers are ordered to not exceed 62 mph and he described his company’s electronic monitoring system that allows each of their trucks to be monitored during their entire routes.

Cox said she addressed the concern that the TTC corridors are proposed to have 80 mph speed limits for trucks and based on his comments that it would appear that the widespread non-attainment pollution control areas in Texas would only worsen with many trucks from other companies traveling at much higher speeds than 62 mph.

Laughlin commented on the TTC’s plans for Alliance, located north of Fort Worth and south of Denton, which contains Alliance Airport.

“I've given you the plan and the development,” Laughlin said, according to Cox’s notes. “Now you have the plan and the development, so get with the plan or get out of the way.”

Cox said she replied by emphasizing cooperation.

“I asked Mr. Laughlin where is the interaction from the citizens in his closing comment that stated ‘so get with the plan or get out of the way.’ He was speechless and did not respond to my question and at that point the meeting facilitator moved the discussion to the next meeting agenda item,” Cox said.

The committee had several other points of “lively discussion,” according to Cox.

One of those lively discussions dealt with a comment made by committee member, Lana Wolf, mayor of Arlington.

Wolf, according to Cox, said “the TTC needed to get moving faster from the talking stage to the doing stage ... the only opponents to the TTC are coming from those farm people.”

Cox said the opposition to the TTC comes from both major political parties in Texas and not just those in rural, agricultural settings. Cox said she quoted the state Republican and Democratic parties’ platform planks against TTC and eminent domain abuse from various years.

“Wolf seemed shocked by the comments in the Republican and Democratic Platforms and she said that ‘it was just words on paper and no elected official would agree to a platform like that and they would leave the parties to become independents,’” Cox said. “I mentioned that would be an option for them but that the Independent Texans Party and the Constitution Party of Texas had similar platforms also strongly stating opposition to the TTC, abusive eminent domain and the Constitutional infringements of private property ownership.”

Cox said the comments by Wolf, Laughlin and Braden are cause for concern.

“There is a disregard that is prevailing — not just in some of the members of the committee, but it is prevalent in so many areas of government,” she said this morning.

For information on attending the advisory committee meeting, contact Cox at 1(940)727-2187 or at

© 2008, The Gainesville Daily Register:
Planning group to discuss second round of demand letters to TxDOT

Polk County Enterprise
Copyright 2008

TRINITY — The Trinity-Neches Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission will meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Trinity City Hall to discuss sending second letters to the Texas Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency demanding a meeting to discuss the impact of the proposed Trans Texas Corridor through the region.

Recording Secretary Connie Fogle said the most recent documents sent to the Federal Highway Administration by TxDOT do not bind the state agency to construction along existing highways. The proposed superhighway would be devastating to school districts in Trinity County.

Groveton ISD would be split in two by the highway, she said. The route also plows through environmentally sensitive areas, she added. The loss of timber acreage along would have a major economic impact on a region that depends on timber and tourism, Fogle said. The timber producers would not be the only ones impacted, though. The latest maps continue to divide grazing areas used by cattle ranchers.

These second letters will demand a meeting with the planning commission within two weeks, Fogle said. The group will decide the location, time, date and agenda for the meeting with TxDOT and the EPA during Wednesday’s meeting.

The planning commission also plans to hold a preparatory meeting workshop prior to the meeting with the two agencies. The planning commission also will have an open forum for members of the public and associate members to discuss their concerns about the Trans-Texas Corridor.

The planning commission sent a letter to Richard Greene, administrator for the EPA’s Region 6 on June 18 that advised him of the creation of the planning commission under Chapter 391 of the Texas Local Government Code. The purpose of the group is to coordinate projects that affect the cities of Groveton, Corrigan and Trinity, especially the I-69 Trans-Texas Corridor.

After the group formed, Groveton ISD, Apple Springs ISD, Corrigan-Camden ISD, Pennington, Trinity Rural Water District and Glendale Water District joined the commission. It now covers 607,233 acres. The EPA letter signed by each of the mayors on the commission states the commission’s belief that draft environmental impact statement for I-69/TTC does not address the issues that will severely impact the area. “The DEIS is grossly inadequate in every criteria of study called for by NEPA,” the EPA letter states.

“We believe the primary reason the study is inadequate is because the agency in charge, the Texas Department of Transportation, has utterly failed to coordinate its ‘study’ with the local governments and the citizens of our community. There have been no meaningful discussions with the local governments in our area with regard to the specifi c impacts on transportation, economic, or social interests of our citizens.”

The letter continues by stating that the interpretation of the National Environmental Policy Act by the courts have made it clear that the impact study is not to be completed based on the preconceived idea that the studied project is to be completed regardless of the adverse effects on the human environment.

The several failures to comply with NEPA are listed in the letter as follows: Coordination with local government is a mandated method for the project planners to gain vital information as to the impact of the project on local government, which bears the burden of providing services to the public, the letter says.

For example, the I-69/TTC DEIS lacks equal consideration of the human and natural environment. Even in its non-specific treatment of the impact, the study weighs these critical impacts differently. Specifically, the study discusses the impact to wildlife, the need to mitigate wildlife corridors, and even the consideration of wildlife bridges and tunnels.

It includes a map of the potential mitigation area for the replacement properties for the protection of species, yet makes no mention of the human impact, such as the redistricting our schools, rerouting our school buses, or ensuring our first responders can reach the life threatening emergencies upon which our citizens depend.

This one-sided analysis points to the very reason Congress directed the agencies to coordinate this study with local governments, which the Texas Department of Transportation has failed to do.

While consideration of the impact to wildlife is being discussed, there is no analysis of the human impact and specifi cally the impact on the timber industry, which is the economic backbone of our community. For example, one logging contractor in our area employs 43 individuals and pays approximately $1.2 million in wages annually. These employees live in our community.

© 2008, The Polk County Enterprise:

August 3, 2008

"RPO’s are being pushed by TxDOT in an attempt to make the public believe that they are the same as the 391 Sub-Regional Planning Commissions."

From July 15 TxDOT Sunset Hearing, public testimony

TxDOT pushes Rural Planning Organizations in contravention of legislation—testimony from Hank Gilbert

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

Hank Gilbert, former Democratic nominee for Agriculture Commissioner, testified about the proposed Rural Planning Organizations (RPO’s). He is especially interested in the RPO’s because of the possibility that the RPO’s are being pushed by TxDOT in an attempt to make the public believe that they are the same as the 391 Sub-Regional Planning Commissions. Gilbert is president of one of these new 391 Commissions, the Piney Woods Sub-Regional Planning Commission.

This is a very important issue. If TxDOT is behind the formation of RPO’s, the RPO’s will be controlled by TxDOT through the regional Councils of Government (COG’s). On the other hand, the 391 Sub-Regional Planning Commissions are formed by the citizens through their local governments, and they have their own powers, given to them by statute.

Gilbert said, “I don’t believe he [Saenz] exactly told the truth a minute ago. Chairman Delisi, she wanted to make this a love fest today and she committed to honesty. But they have already broken that honesty when it was brought up about the RPO’s earlier today. We had a person at that meeting [on RPO’s] who sent me an email of what went on at that meeting on July 10. TxDOT, specifically Amadeo Saenz, addressed this and said they had come up with money at TxDOT to help fund and reimburse the COG’s if they created an RPO.”

Gilbert continued, “What’s important is that TxDOT has promulgated regulations to create RPO’s, which legislation actually failed last session. . . . So TxDOT decided to push the RPO issue forward so when the legislature comes into session they are having the legislation filed to authorize by statute what they have done by regulation. Then, they will pull the COG RPO’s into the Transportation statute and totally control all of the RPO’s. They’ll be nothing but a sounding board instead of a real board.”

Saenz contradicts Gilbert

After Gilbert’s testimony, Saenz then returned to the testimony table. “What Mr. Gilbert just presented is not factual. First of all, for the commissions, we have not adopted or done anything with the RPO’s. This was a conference, there is a mechanism in there that if they would be formed, which is one of the recommendations, then we can use state planning funds from the federal side to be able to cover their planning needs. But we have not taken any action on anything like that.”

Kolkhorst said “I’m not sure I’m for these RPO’s. . . Let’s not move forward on these RPO’s quite yet until we get through this.” Another Sunset Commissioner commented, “They need legislation to do it.” Kolkhorst replied, “I think what Hank [Gilbert] was trying to say is they’re doing it before we get there.”

Gilbert documents his testimony

Gilbert had documentation from the RPO conference including the agenda showing that TxDOT sponsored the meeting, that Saenz was on the agenda to speak about RPO’s, and info from COG’s about their new efforts to form RPO’s with the assistance of TxDOT. The list of attendees listed 45 TxDOT employees out of 200 registered in attendance at the meeting. Gilbert provided copies of his documentation to the Sunset Commissioners—the proof that his information IS “factual.”

TxDOT is already working on a plan to create its own system of RPO’s so that residents will think they are getting their own powerful Sub-Regional Planning Commission that represents them, but they will really be getting an RPO that represents TxDOT.

© 2008, ACRE:

August 2, 2008

South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission Formed

Press Release
South Central Texas Sub Regional Planning Commission (SCTSRPC)
Copyright 2008

St. Hedwig- Representatives of the City of St . Hedwig and Wilson County met July 31, 2008 at the St. Hedwig City Hall for the first meeting of the South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission (SCTSRPC).

The SCTSRPC was formed under the authority of the Texas Local Government Code Chapter 391 which allows counties and cities to “join and cooperate to improve the health, safety and general welfare of their residents”.

Under Chapter 391, state and federal governments must coordinate with local planning commissions concerning “common problems of transportation” before building roads or other transportation facilities through their jurisdictions, including the Trans Texas Corridor. (The local commission is the ninth SRPC to be formed in Texas.) The SCTSRPC also expects the state and federal governments to address a list of concerns ranging from impacts to the local agricultural economy to loss of the county tax base.

Serving on the SCTSRPC Board of Directors are Mayor Mary Jo Dylla, of St. Hedwig, Councilwoman Susann Baker, of St. Hedwig, ViceChairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission and at large member Kathy Palmer, of St. Hedwig, Judge Marvin Quinney, of Wilson County, Commissioner Larry Wiley, of Wilson County. Ralph Gerhardt, of Wilson County is an at-large member of the Commission.

One of the main purposes of the SCTSRPC will be to prevent negative impacts from the Trans Texas Corridor and other transportation projects within their jurisdiction. The Commission will also consider inviting other units of government, such as school boards, water boards, and first responders.

Also at the meeting to assist in the first organization meeting were Dan Byfield, President of the American Land Foundation and Margaret Byfield, Executive Director of Stewards of the Range. Both groups assist and teach landowners and other organizations how to use existing law to protect their priorities, private property, economy and way of life. The Byfields were instrumental in helping start the first Sub-Regional Planning Commission in Bell County as well as others across the State of Texas.

The next meeting of the South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission will be held in St. Hedwig at the St. Hedwig City Hall at 2pm, Tuesday September 23, 2008. The public is invited to attend.

© 2008 City of St. Hedwig:

South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission Holds First Meeting

SCTSRPC - 391 Commission

Next meeting: August 27, 2008 2pm. St. Hedwig City Hall 8/27/08 Agenda

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
© 2008, Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF): www.texasturf.orgJo 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

TxDOT Coordination Letter

© 2008, City of Saint Hedwig, Texas: