Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Blacklands Coalition and Cintras Secret Toll Road Documents

Did you see the big news? Perry signs bill requiring vote on toll roads. Well, not exactly. The headline is a little misleading, so don't get too excited. You will not get to vote on all toll roads, just on whether a "free" road can be converted to a toll road. The bill being referred to is the now infamous-to-the-informed (more on that shortly), HB 2702. This bill was passed to fix a bad bill that was passed the session before. The funny part in all of this is the fact that the only people who seem to be happy about this are Mike Krusee, Governor Perry, other politicians, and, of course, those who are going to be involved in building this monstrosity.

Since the last legislative session ended, there have been some interesting developments surrounding the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC), two of which I will highlight here: the creation of the Blacklands Coalition and a ruling by the state's Attorney General on releasing documents pertaining to the TTC.

The main problem is that most Texans aren't informed about the TTC. When a person becomes informed about the TTC--or the more a person is informed about the TTC--the less enthusiastic they are about it. That's where the Blacklands Coalition comes in. Their stated purpose is to “educate, organize and involve landowners and interested Texans about the true impact of the proposed TTC-35 corridor”, or as they like to say:
We believe most Texans do not understand what significant changes have been made to our highway programs by our elected officials. HB 3588, passed several years ago, gave sweeping powers to the Trans Texas Corridor Commission, most of which exceed the wishes of informed Texans.

We believe most Texas do not understand the real impact of the TTC-35 corridor, and when informed would not support such a project. It will not only have a negative effect on Texans in the path of the project, but all Texans, and even other states.

Hmm…didn't I refer to a Thomas Jefferson quote yesterday about education and freedom? I think it went something like this, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Interesting. Our government passes a sweeping and expensive law, and an uninformed/uneducated public has no idea what is happening. As was said earlier, if only Texans knew what was going on, they would be against it.

Staying in the same area of knowledge (or lack of it) and the TTC: On May 31st, the Texas Attorney General's office ruled that TxDOT must release hundreds of pages of the Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA) kept secret in their deal with Cintra-Zachry, a Spanish contractor, to develop the Trans-Texas Corridor TTC-35. But TxDot and Cintra are contesting the ruling. Why are the people of Texas being denied access to information about a multi-billion dollar deal that its government struck to create a 600-mile toll road? Why the secrecy? The first thing you need to remember is who our current leadership in Texas are descended from. That's right, the Bush administration. They do the same thing, except that, as far as I can tell, this has nothing to do with national security. It's more along the lines of Vice President Cheney trying to keep secret who met with him about energy policy, and that secrecy case went all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. I would assume if they don't want it released to the public, then it might be something that would not put them in a very good light. Boy, is that overstating the obvious!

Being informed is a continual process which has been made harder over the last couple of decades with the deterioration of the press and media in this country. Are you for spending billions of dollars to allow a foreign company to build a 600-mile toll road through your state, while keeping information secret which the Attorney General says you have a right to see? I would love to hear the answer.


At 6/25/2005 2:56 PM, Anonymous said...

I found this WWW site searcing for more info on Cintas-Zachry. I was looking for connections to whom was behind the project. Names. Carlyle? Ross Perot? But all I found was unsubstantiated claims that it was all Bush/Perry's fault and therfor must be opposed.
I'm not Dan Rather. Just becasue you write it, doesn't make it true. Who owns Zachry? Part of Lady Bird's estate? I don't know, and apparently, neither do you.

Rich Martin


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