Here is the full press release issued Thursday afternoon by State Representative Wayne Christian:
Today State Representative Wayne Christian (R-Center), President of the Texas Conservative Coalition (TCC), announces an agreement on vital issues regarding the Trans-Texas Corridor.
The Transportation Commission adopted a minute order today reaffirming five statutory requirements proposed by the members of the TCC and issuing two new protections for future transportation infrastructure development.
The minute order is a response to a February 4 letter from the Texas Conservative Coalition (TCC), the conservative caucus of the Texas Legislature. Rep. Christian, along with thirty-three of his colleagues in the State House, signed it and asked for adherence to existing transportation safeguards. Based on the TCC letter, the Transportation Commission has formally agreed to follow these statutory requirements:
- The state will retain ownership of its state highways and will not transfer this ownership to private developers.
- All contracts entered into by the Department of Transportation (the Department) will contain provisions that allow the state to buy back any facilities that have been leased to a private developer.
- The Department will only approve initial rates for toll projects in a public meeting and in coordination with local metropolitan planning organizations.
- Tolling will only be imposed on new capacity, and the amount of non-tolled lanes on existing roads will not be reduced.
- No contract entered into by the Department will include any limitations or prohibitions on improvements needed to existing or future highways.
- Prohibition on non-compete clauses with state contracts and financing
The Transportation Commission minute order also issues the following property rights safeguards:
- The Department will utilize existing rights of way and easements when possible so that private property is not taken when it is not needed.
- Transportation projects will be planned, subject to environmental regulations, so that existing property is not split into separate tracts.
"Given the intensity of public opposition to some elements of state transportation policy, TCC members urged the Texas Transportation Commission to make a course correction, and the agency responded," said Christian. "We appreciate the Transportation Commission's openness, and for providing clarity in the critical area of transportation."
Last month, Amadeo Saenz, Executive Director of the Texas Department of Transportation, called Rep. Christian to discuss the TCC members' concerns regarding TXDOT's transportation policies. Additionally, Rep. Christian met in Austin last Thursday with Governor Rick Perry and top TXDOT officials where they agreed that the commission would address the concerns of the coalition at today's Transportation Commission meeting.
"During our meeting last week, I was pleased that the Governor and TXDOT leadership agreed to begin the reversal of the Trans-Texas Corridor and return to the I-69 project, which is an expansion of existing US 59," explained Christian. "While it may take a while to remove the name from TXDOT literature, I am proud to say that we have put the first nails in the coffin of the Trans-Texas Corridor in East Texas! I thank the Governor and his TXDOT leadership for listening to the citizens of Texas. I also thank the hundreds of citizens in my district and across Texas for standing up and proving our American system still works when people speak out."