Mayors Demand Trans Texas Corridor DEIS be Withdrawn
CONTACT: Mae Smith, President 254-657-2460
Holland, Texas ---Five mayors in Central Texas have filed a petition with Federal Highway Administration demanding that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement filed by the Texas Department of Transportation on the I-35 and I-69 Trans-Texas Corridors be withdrawn.
“We know that the governor and TxDOT are playing a political shell game by asking for a “No Action” option on the Trans-Texas Corridor,” explained Mayor Mae Smith, president of the Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission. “If the FHA issues a ‘no action’ record of decision on the environmental study as requested by TxDOT, the study remains available to use in the future should the governor change his mind and decide to build the TTC,” Smith added.
For two and a half years, five mayors and their respective school districts fought against the governor and his transportation department through their ECTSRPC to prevent them from building a 1,200 foot-wide toll road through their commission’s jurisdiction in Eastern Bell and Western Milam counties.
This is our third petition with the Federal Highway Administration showing all the flaws of TxDOT’s environmental study,” stated Ralph Snyder, a Holland businessman and member of the planning commission. “Since TxDOT announced they have formally withdrawn the TTC from consideration, there is no viable project legally before the FHA and they simply must withdraw it from consideration,” Snyder said.
Technically, an environmental study can be reused unless it is completely withdrawn from consideration and discarded by the lead agency, which is the Federal highway Administration. In 2009, the Texas legislature rejected the governor’s and TxDOT’s plans to fund the TTC and before the primary elections, TxDOT announced the TTC was “dead.”
However, on February 1, 2010, during a joint hearing of the Senate and house Transportation Committees, Amadeo Saenz, executive director of TxDOT, was asked by Senator John Carona “If TxDOT changed its mind tomorrow and decided to build the Trans-Texas Corridor, does it have the statutory authority to do so?” Saenz answered “Yes.”
“As much work we’ve put in on this issue, we do not want to leave any stone unturned,” said Mayor Ronnie White of Little River-Academy, who also serves as a board member of the ECTSRPC.
The ECTSRPC was formed under Section 391 of the Local Government Code that forced TxDOT to coordinate their plans with the five cities that all said “no Trans-Texas Corridor shall be built through our jurisdiction.” A copy of the “Petition to Withdraw the DEIS can be obtained at www.stewards.us.