August 11, 2010

It’s Official – Trans-Texas Corridor 35 is Dead!

American Stewards

100811_CW_TTCDead_MainThe first leg of the NAFTA Superhighway is DEAD, according to the Federal Highway Administration’s Record of Decision (ROD) on the environmental study for the Trans-Texas Corridor - 35.

In June, the Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission formed by five towns, their school districts and a local businessman in Central Texas, sent a petition to the Council of Environmental Quality (Council) concerned that a critical loophole was still open that would allow the Trans-Texas Corridor – 35 to be revived. They asked the Council to step in and require the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) to withdraw the study in its entirety.

Instead of withdrawing the study, the FHA stated eight different times in what otherwise should have been a typical ROD that the TTC 35 project had ended. They even went so far as to state that the environmental study could not be used as a basis for any further study.

Fred Kelly Grant, President of American Stewards who wrote the Petition stated:

“The Federal Highway Administration has pounded the final nail in the coffin of the Trans-Texas Corridor-35. The Agency’s final Record of Decision, issued on July 20, 2010 selected the No Action Alternative, but went further in ordering that “a study area for the TTC-35 Project will not be chosen and the TTC-35 Project is concluded.” Twice, the ROD states that the “project is concluded,” and six times it states that “the project ends.”

“If TXDOT attempted to revive the 35 Corridor project and use the same EIS, this ROD would provide the base for issuance by a United States District Judge of a Declaratory Judgment prohibiting the action,” Grant concluded.

This is an unprecedented action. The $80 billion international superhighway project is dead.

The corridor concept was unveiled by Governor Rick Perry in 2003 as the way to build infrastructure in America. His plan would have confiscated 586,000 private acres in Texas alone and displace over one million people and their families.

The superhighway was to contain four passenger lanes, two truck lanes, high speed rail and freight rail, all charging a hefty toll for the next 50 years that would go to the international contractor Cintra-Zachry. But that’s not all. The right of way was to be a quarter-of-a-mile wide so that land within the corridor could be leased to restaurants, hotels and gas stations. Perry’s plan would take land from Texans and generate revenue for foreign companies.

As grand as Perry’s plan was, it was only the first part of a much larger scheme – the NAFTA Superhighway – an international highway that was to efficiently connect the Chinese-owned ports in Mexico to the Canadian markets, by way of America’s heartland.

The first major security check for cargo coming into America was a “Smart Port” in Kansas City where trucks could drive through without stopping.

Texan’s were outraged, but no one listened until the five towns of Holland, Bartlett, Little River-Academy, Rogers and Buckholts (total population of about 6,500) decided to take matters into their own hands and invoke coordination. Dan Byfield (ASL CEO) and Margaret Byfield (ASL ED) lived less than an hour away and were able to attend every meeting and guide the commission through the process. President Fred Grant attended all the coordination meetings with the agencies and wrote the hard-hitting Petitions filed by the Commission.

The TTC battle is the first time the coordination process was invoked for an issue that didn’t involve federal lands. Texas is 97% privately owned. Still, the coordination requirement in the National Environmental Policy Act and a unique Texas state law brought both federal and state agencies to Holland, Texas to resolve the inconsistencies between the TTC and local policies.

October 2009, the Texas Department of Transportation announced they would be recommending the “no build” alternative. Eastern Central, while happy with the decision, also recognized that there was a serious loophole still open. If the study was approved with the “no build” alternative, the agency could change its mind later and select a new alternative without going through the level of analysis Eastern Central was requiring. (See TTC Petition Filed with CEQ).

In an unprecedented move, they petitioned the CEQ to right the wrong and require that the study be withdrawn so that it could never be used in the future. FHA didn’t withdraw the study, but did one better. They marked it for dead. Never to be revived, referred to, or relied upon again.

There are still three Perry-driven Trans-Texas Corridor plans in the works: I-69, La Entrada, and Ports-to-Plains. Lincoln, Colorado sits in the path of Ports-to-Plains and has taken the lead of the Eastern Central planning commission by beginning the coordination process with the Colorado Department of Transportation on related issues.

Planning Commissions exist on the other two routes in Texas as well. People along these routes throughout the U.S. should take a closer look at the impressive path blazed by Eastern Central. They made coordination work and achieved our greatest victory to date.

The Trans Texas Corridor Stopped Here!
Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission

Mae Smith,
Mayor of Holland
Billy Crow,
Vice President
Mayor of Rogers
Arthur White,
Mayor of Bartlett
Ronnie White,
Mayor of Little River-Academy
Hal Senkel
Mayor of Buckholtz
Ralph Snyder
Holland Businessman
Harold Kurtz
President, Holland ISD
Kerry Owen
Academy ISD
Gary Ktrola
Rogers ISD
Bartlett ISD
Buckhotz ISD
Joan Kurtz, Recording Secretary
Marcia Snyder
Cindy Ross

© 2010 American Stewards:

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