Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Trans-Texas Corridor

In perusing my 'Comments', I notice that I seem to have forgotten to opine about one of my pet peeves: The Trans-Texas Corridor.

Goodness, I'll just have to remedy that.

For the official TxDOT site, go here.

For the opposing viewpoint, go here, here, here, and here.

So, what is the Trans-Texas Corridor, and why does the LawDog have such a case of the hips about it?

In mush-mouth language, the Trans-Texas Corridor is: "a multi-use, statewide network of transportation routes in Texas that will incorporate existing and new highways, railways and utility right-of-ways, each route including: 1)separate lanes for passenger vehicles and large trucks;
2) freight railways;
3) high-speed commuter railways; and
4) infrastructure for utilities including water lines, oil and gas pipelines, and transmission lines for electricity, broadband and other telecommunications services ."

Let me break that down for y'all:

The State of Texas plans to spend the next fifty years putting in a four thousand-mile uber-toll-road/railway line, along an easement that will be 1,200 feet from side-to-side. 584 thousand acres will be used. Something over 9000 square miles.

We will now pause for a moment to allow that idea to percolate.

"But, LawDog," I hear you say, "Isn't 90+% of the land in Texas privately owned?"

Well, let us check with Coby Chase, TxDOT Legislative Affairs Director:

"The number of courts authorized to hear eminent domain cases should be expanded"

He goes further to state that Eminent Domain cases related to the Trans-Texas Corridor should be "...made more efficient"

Yes, Texas Department of Transportation is expecting such a large number of eminent domain cases from the TTC, that they're lobbying the Texas State Legislature to not only increase the number of courts allowed to hear eminent domain cases, but to make the process more efficient.

Show of paws: How many folks think the 'efficient' part is going to benefit TxDOT, rather than the folks whose land is gettin grabbed?

Yeah, me too.

There are questions regarding the Spain-based corporation that has been given the contract for the first section of the TTC -- seems to be some rumours concerning the legality/ethicality/morality of some of their toll-road operations.

Fun stuff.

As usual, peruse the links above and come to your own conclusions.

LawDog

6 comments:

markm said...

I might see the utility of such a corridor from Baltimore through NYC to Boston, if they'd acquired the right of way before there were a dozen million dollar homes every mile, but why in heck would Texas need it? Eminent domain might not be the worst problem here. Think about the taxes the rest of you will have to pay.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my thorns and berries. The roadbuilding machine here would positively howl like a pack of mecha-wolves if they had a chance at doing something like that. It's far worse than what we're up against.

All I can say is bklokjgq the lot of them. Better yet, ship 'em to Somalia where they can play in the sand all they want.

- NF

Anonymous said...

Armed robbery writ large.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't be needed if Texas didn't grow any larger in either population or business activity.

Drive I-35 from Laredo to Dallas, and I'd bet you'll holler for more lanes. Same for I-10 east from Houston.

A 1,200-foot ROW sounds like a lot, but what's the present ROW width of an Interstate?

From past (anecdotal) experience of eminent domain cases in Texas, the landowner who goes to a jury tends to get tomorrow's prices, today. And the money is tax-free.

I spent some years in the dam/reservoir bidness. Eminent domain takings do indeed result in heartbreak, no doubt. But not always...

Without eminent domain, there'd be no water, oil or gas pipelines across the state, and no highways without a lot of 90-degree corners. Well, okay, land sales might occur, but the pricing would be outrageous.

I'm less negative about the transportation corridor concept than I am about how it's to be done. "No man's property is safe when the Legislature is in session." I think our interpretation of the Texas Constitution is in error. The Lege meets 140 days every two years; it should be for two days every 140 years.

Art

Anonymous said...

You know, I have absolutely no problem with eminent domain when used for public works projects (as opposed to private business for tax purposes). That said, there is one thing that I take huge issue with, and it is this. If the government wants to take someone's land against their will, they should be forced to pay 2x the appraised value for the land and all improvements on the land. At least if someone's land is taken, they should make out quite well for it, instead of getting 1/2 the value of the land alone.

That said, that 2x value should be 2x the highest appraised value for the property and all improvements over the last 10 years (incase the value just recently tanked).

catfish said...

Hi, I'm from the government. I'm here to help.