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

No comments: