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TxDOT Confirms TTC is Still Alive: Despite Recent Announcement, Segments of TTC Still Advance Across the State
AUSTIN—TxDOT announced today at a press conference in Austin that in response to citizen comments received during the environmental review of the Trans-Texas Corridor-35, the department has recommended the No Action Alternative on the TTC-35 environmental study to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). TxDOT Commissioner Armando Saenz made it clear that the TTC-35 would not go away overnight and that FHWA will still have to respond to their recommendation which could take up to 45 days.
According to officials, this recommendation by TxDOT will effectively end efforts to develop TTC-35 through the Trans-Texas Corridor concept would have been funded using a type of private toll road arrangement called a Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA). Governor Perry’s TTC would have been funded using this kind of private infrastructure deals which are fraught with problems and often characterized by the same leveraging of debt, conflicts of interest, and reckless shifting of risk that triggered the recent financial crisis.
The TTC-35 would have added a road parallel to I-35 but opposition to the Governor’s plan has been so widespread and heated that TxDOT has declared the entire project dead on a number of occasions including today.
However, as Saenz stated, despite the fact that the department has canceled their CDA with private investor Cintra-Zachry for the TTC-35, they do intend to move forward with CDAs for segments 5 and 6 along I-130 making it clear that Texans are still not safe from bad private toll road deals. When asked where they would get the estimated $1.5 billion needed to do so, Saenz said they were willing to explore all funding options and resources calling into question whether the public is actually safe from bad road privatization deals for good.
“As confirmed today by TxDOT officials the TTC is still alive. Segments 5 and 6 of the original plan continue to advance in the form of Comprehensive Development Agreements or CDAs,” said Melissa Cubria, Advocate for the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG), “To protect the public, Texas and its local governments should avoid privatization of existing roadways, and allow for private deals to construct new roadways only with the strongest protections to ensure transparency, full value for taxpayers, and continued public control of transportation policy.”
“This is not the first time that TxDOT has declared the Trans Texas Corridor dead and it will not be the last. Texas is still not safe from these harmful road privatization deals,” concluded Cubria.
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