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:

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