Trans Texas Corridor

Trans Texas Corridor

The Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) is new way to move commuters and
cargo, remove hazardous cargo from city centers, reduce air pollution,
and expand economic opportunity. It is a major project that ensures
needed infrastructure gets built sooner and at less expense to Texas
taxpayers. Like any major infrastructure project, it generates a lot of
questions, and even criticism, that warrant a response. This fact sheet
addresses some of the major concerns and presents the facts about the
Trans Texas Corridor:

  • FACT: Almost half of the Texas population lives along the I35 corridor right now.
  • FACT: The Texas population is expected to double in the next 40 years.
  • FACT: The current Texas transportation infrastructure cannot
    accommodate the expected growth in population and trade--particularly
    along the I35 corridor.
  • FACT: Texas cannot maintain our current transportation
    infrastructure, much less build the new transportation infrastructure
    that will be needed, relying solely on gas tax revenues or financing
    methods of the past.

Addressing the Concerns

Contention: The corridor is too big.
Reality: The corridor will be developed over the
next 50 years as our transportation needs continue to increase. No
segment will be built unless there is a need.
Contention: The corridor costs too much.
Reality: The corridor will be financed by tolls
and will not require additional taxes. Unlike gas taxes which drivers
are forced to pay, whether to pay a toll is a choice that every driver
makes. For those that don't want to pay tolls, the existing interstate
system will continue to be available and maintained toll-free. The
first segment of the corridor will be paid for by $7.2 billion in
private investment and will require no tax dollars up front for
construction.
Contention: The corridor will harm schools and local governments by removing taxable land from the tax roles.
Reality: Under any scenario, the state will need
to purchase land to build more roads over the next 50 years.
Considerably less tax value will be removed by buying undeveloped
agriculture exempt land to build the corridor than expanding our
current system by purchasing the expensive retail and commercial
development adjacent to an existing road. Additionally, state law
requires that any development on corridor land such as a gas station,
utility or railroad is subject to local property taxes, even though it
is on state right-of-way.
Contention: Huge amounts of private land will be
taken by the state through eminent domain for superhighway, train, and
utility rights of way.
Reality: Over the next 50 years, the state,
railroads, and utilities will all need to purchase private land for
expansion. By using the Trans Texas Corridor to combine many of these
rights of way into one corridor, less total land will be needed. The
Corridor will ultimately result in the purchase of less public land
than would otherwise be needed to keep up with growth, and all the
needed land will be purchased during one process, instead of on a
piecemeal basis as we need to build out infrastructure one project at a
time.
Contention: The state will use eminent domain to take private land.
Reality: Under any scenario, the state will need
to purchase land to build more roads over the next 50 years. The 5th
amendment of the U.S. Constitution and state law require the state to
pay fair market value when purchasing private land for public purposes.
If a landowner doesn't believe an offer to purchase is fair, the law
provides they can appeal to special commissioners and even request a
jury trial in district court to decide what is fair.
Several other protections exist in state law to ensure that
landowners are fairly compensated. Landowners may retain the
development rights of any property purchased by the state, and state
law also allows landowners to accept an equity interest in the TTC
rather than a cash payment for their land. Landowners whose land is
severed by the corridor are required to receive damages caused by the
severance including inaccessibility.
Contention: The private companies helping to build the corridor will have the ability to condemn private property.
Reality: This is false. Only the government and common carriers have the power of condemnation.
Contention: The corridor will allow the state to condemn land and build restaurants, hotels, golf courses, and chemical refineries.
Reality: State law only allows the condemnation of
corridor land for transportation purposes. Condemnation for any other
purpose is illegal.
Contention: Roads will be cut off by the corridor making it harder to move around.
Reality: Just as when the interstate system was
built, roads will be connected across the corridor. State law requires
the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to restore any road it
alters to accommodate the construction of the corridor.
Contention: The federal government has agreed to
allow the first segment of the corridor proposal to proceed before
environmental studies are even completed.
Reality: This is false. Not one inch of the
corridor can be built before a full environmental study is completed
and signed off on by the Federal Highway Administration.
Contention: Land will be bisected with as much as
a � mile wide path forcing landowners to drive many miles to reach the
other sides as they will have limited access.
Reality: A fully built out corridor is projected
to be roughly twice the width of the interstate highway system, not � a
mile wide, and most corridor segments will be less than that. As with
other highways, TxDOT will work hard to make sure that the routes for
the corridor are between properties rather than bisecting them. When a
property is bisected, TxDOT will do everything it can to minimize the
impact on the property owner including reconnecting severed roads,
providing crossovers, and constructing limited access roads. Where
appropriate, wildlife and livestock crossings may be included. As
mentioned previously, state law requires that landowners who suffer
inaccessibility because of the corridor be paid cash damages.
Contention: A foreign company will own Texas land if chosen to help build the corridor.
Reality: The land and roadway of the corridor will
be owned by the State of Texas, just as with any other state road. The
rights to build the first segments of the TTC was conducted in an open
bidding process and initialliy won by a consordiou of international and
Texas companies. The state has an obligation to make the best deal it
can for corridor financing regardless of where the bidders are from.
The fact is that private investors are willing to invest billions of
dollars in Texas infrastructure that taxpayers can't afford and that
investment will create thousands of jobs for Texans.
Contention: When acquiring land for the corridor TxDOT will get water and mineral rights.
Reality: When TxDOT purchases or condemns land for
highways it does not buy the mineral rights, only the surface. State
law prohibits the pumping of groundwater on corridor property except
for incidental on-site use. The law also requires TxDOT to notify
groundwater districts and county commissioners' courts if it receives a
proposal involving the transport of water.
Contention: The corridor isn't needed. Rather than build new parallel corridors, we should just expand our existing roads.
Reality: In developed areas the cost of expanding
our interstate system is prohibitive. Just to add one extra lane in
each direction of I-35 would cost billions of tax dollars and decades
of construction. By building a new parallel tolled corridor, we can
build more road, build it in a fraction of the time it would take to
expand I-35, build it for less money, build it with little or no tax
dollars, and allow for new rail and utility lines as our state
continues to grow. The state will continue to make necessary
improvements and expansions to I-35, but we can't count on that aging
highway to meet all of our future needs.
Contention: There is no public input into the corridor process.
Reality: To date there have been over 700 public
meetings on the corridor. Many more will take place over the next
several years. Keep up with the public hearing schedule and other
corridor info at: www.keeptexasmoving.com
Contention: Corridor contracts are negotiated in secret.
Reality: The elements of the proposed corridor
have been made public since its unveiling in 2002. The negotiation
process by nature requires private discussion because proprietary
information must be protected in competitive situations. This is true
in any other public negotiations and certainly in the private sector.
Corridor documents may be viewed on the above website and any finally
negotiated contract is public information by law.
Contention: The Trans Texas Corridor legislation included several new kinds of condemnation authority to take private land.
Reality: The Trans Texas Corridor legislation
contained no new condemnation authority. The same constitutional and
statutory protections control eminent domain law. No property can be
condemned without an order by a state district judge and the owner
being paid fair market value.
Contention: The corridor will be restricted access that won't allow vehicles to get on and off it.
Reality: The private investors in the corridor
want to ensure they are repaid for their investment. The best way to do
this is to make the road as attractive as possible to drivers so that
they will pay to use it. The road must be easily accessible to drivers
and popular destinations or drivers will not use the road, which means
it will tie in to our current infrastructure system at many points. A
transportation system with no access serves no purpose. There must be
access from the corridor to small towns and rural areas.
The frequency and location of entrance and exit ramps will be
determined as a project is being designed. It is impossible to do that
level of design work now because a route hasn't been selected yet.
However, state law requires the corridor to intersect with all
interstate highways, U.S. Highways and state highways. It also requires
the state to work with local officials and study traffic volume,
circuitry of travel for landowners, and access for emergency vehicles
when determining which farm-to-market roads, ranch-to-market roads,
county roads, and city arterials to connect to the corridor.
Contention: A private company will control the toll rates in the corridor and can charge very high tolls to use it.
Reality: Because the corridor will be parallel to
our tax funded roads it must be competitively priced. If toll rates are
set too high, drivers will not use the corridor and will simply use the
free alternative. State law requires TxDOT to approve the methodology
for setting toll rates including toll increases, penalties for
non-payment, and any changes.
Contention: The corridor is just a bigger interstate.
Reality: The corridor plan will allow Texas to
improve the interstate concept with features like separate lanes for
cars and trucks, passenger rail between Texas cities, and 85 mph speed
limits.

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