Lisa A. Bastian (Apr/May 08)
very likely a "toll road model" will be used to help fund the TTC,
explains Gabby Garcia, Texas Department of Transportation spokesperson,
since state monies are now primarily used to pay for maintenance of
Texas' existing roads. But toll roads are just one of many concerns
fueling mini-firestorms in some Texas communities. Proponents want to
discuss how the TTC will relieve congested highways, create new markets
and jobs, bring economic development to more parts of the state,
develop new cities and industrial parks, etc. Opponents want to discuss
state and national sovereignty, the potential purchase (or
confiscation) of tens of thousands of acres, ties to NAFTA and
immigration, and who benefits financially from construction.
plans are still in flux, Garcia patiently emphasizes, and specific TTC
routes have yet to be determined. However, two routes are now
undergoing environmental studies and, if approved and funded,
construction of them could start "in four to five years."
proposed 600-mile TTC-35 corridor parallels I-35, and would extend from
north of Dallas-Forth Worth to Mexico and possibly the Gulf Coast. The
proposed 650-mile I-69/TTC corridor extends from Texarkana/Shreveport,
around Houston and down to Mexico, possibly by way of the Rio Grande
Valley or Laredo.
"Presently there is no interstate corridor
leading down to Laredo, the biggest land port in Texas, or to the Port
of Brownsville," notes Garcia. She adds that existing routes from those
areas (state and U.S. highways) could be expanded and might include
"some sort of rail component." In sum, while the economies of many
other states have contracted, Texas' economy continues to expand,
strengthen, and make attempts to diversify. Its pro-business regulatory
environment, economic development programs, and educated work force -
especially in the high-tech sector - all combine to provide the Lone
Star State an enviable competitive edge in today's global economy.