By Terri Hall | July 13, 2011
Governor Rick PerrySen. Robert NicholsSenator Steve Ogden/Photo-Hill Country Times
The people of Texas scored a big victory with the recent repeal of the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) from state statute. Governor Rick Perry even signed it. That ought to give us pause. The TTC is Perry’s legacy building project, one he still defends despite the massive grassroots uprising against it. So why would he sign it?
Because it’s not truly dead. Like the famous line in the film Princess Bride, it’s mostly dead. During the 82nd Texas Legislative Session that ended May 30, the final repeal of the Trans- Texas Corridor made it to the Governor’s desk, but with the passage of several key bills, it essentially revives a Trans-Texas Corridor-style sale of Texas infrastructure through controversial taxpayer subsidized “public private partnerships” (PPPs). Several segments of TTC-69 (most are connections to the Port of Houston) are authorized in SB 1420 and will move forward piece by piece as PPPs or P3s, as these government subsidies are often referred to globally.
Texas politicians on both sides of the aisle have been frustrated since the Trans-Texas Corridor first became one of the most radioactive political hot potatoes across the state (and nation) as to how to convince constituents that the TTC is DEAD. Once Texans were educated about it and became sophisticated in their knowledge of how to identify it and kill it, they were just too smart to believe the TTC was really dead simply because a politician told them so.
The flame started to burn in 2005 when Governor Rick Perry awarded the development rights for the Trans-Texas Corridor-35 (TTC-35) to a Spanish company, Cintra, and would not release the contract to the public. Then the anti-TTC sentiment spread like wildfire after two rounds of public hearings, 54 hearings in a matter of weeks in 2006 for TTC-35 alone and then another 46 hearings again in 2008 for what was once I-69 that morphed into a Trans-Texas Corridor concept of a foreign-owned toll road through mostly rural East Texas, known as TTC-69.
More than 28,000 Texans went on the record opposing that project, even more than the TTC-35 project, and those East Texas lawmakers, including Transportation Commissioner turned Texas Senator Robert Nichols (who was present when the TTC-35 development rights contract was first signed) and Senate Finance Committee Chair Steve Ogden, who carried the original bill to create the TTC, took notice and abject panic set in. That was the most public comment against any road project in the history of Texas. Now the backlash wasn’t isolated to just Central Texas (TTC-35), it was in the hotbed of Republican fundraising country, where property rights are sacred (TTC-69).
The Trans-Texas Corridor as originally envisioned was a 4,000 mile multi-modal network of toll roads (auto and truck lanes), rail lines (freight rail and commuter rail), power transmission lines, pipelines, telecommunications lines, you name it, it was part of the Trans-Texas Corridor, a terrorist’s dream. It was going to be financed, operated, and controlled by a foreign company using public private partnerships in swaths of land 1,200 feet (4 football fields) wide.
Called the biggest land grab in Texas history, it was going to gobble up 580,000 acres of private Texas land (the first corridor alone was to displace 1 million Texans) and hand it over to Cintra or some other global player who would have exclusive rights to determine the route and what hotels, restaurants, and gas stations were along the corridor (a cash cow, and government subsidized and sanctioned monopoly for a HALF CENTURY). The federal government calls the TTC more nebulous sounding names like “High Priority Corridors” or “Corridors of the Future,” and even the NAFTA superhighway. TTC-69 is referred to in congressional documents as High Priority Corridors 18 & 20 and is supposed to start at the southern border of Texas and go all the way to Port Huron, Michigan.
The Trans-Texas Corridor, re-named the “Innovative Connectivity Plan” in 2009, has always been about exploiting landowners and taxpayers to open up new NAFTA trade corridors to facilitate the free flow of goods (mostly cheap goods from China) among nations to benefit global corporations that have transferred American jobs overseas. With WikiLeaks documents confirming our government is indeed pushing for the integration of the United States with Canada and Mexico into a North American Union, these economic and trade connections are vital to the elitist’s globalization plans, and won’t die simply because the TTC statute is now gone from Texas law. In fact, construction of these trade corridors in Texas and across the nation will continue as authorized under federal law resulting from Congress’ transportation reauthorization process beginning with the Intermodal Surface Transportation Act (ISTEA) in 1991 through the SAFETEA-LU legislation in 2005. Texas has seven planned trade corridors entering the state from Mexico, either under construction or proposed, as a result of Congress’ transportation reauthorization process.
Stop the freight train, er…pipeline!
Within days of Perry winning the Texas primary March 2, 2010, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) revealed its intention to extend the SH 130 toll road northward. SH 130 from Georgetown around Austin extending south to San Antonio is the first leg of the Trans-Texas Corridor TTC-35. So as predicted, Perry, bolstered by his re-election, continued his plans to push the TTC piece by piece all the way up to the Red River.
With Winnipeg moving a multi-modal trade corridor southward along I-35, and the expansion of US 281 south of San Antonio underway (which feeds into the I-35 corridor) moving the corridor northward, it proves the TTC’s demise was mere illusion designed to lull Texans back to sleep, while politicians get re-elected and quietly build it, segment by segment under the radar.
When TxDOT announced that TTC-35 was “dead,” it also clearly stated TTC-69, also referred to as I-69 to make it appear more harmless, is still moving forward. In fact, expansion of US 77 is already underway in the Rio Grande Valley as part of the initial leg of what will be known as TTC-69/I-69.
In addition, Ports-to-Plains (to run from the Pacific coast ports of Mexico’sinto the U.S. running through Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana all the way to Alberta, Canada) and La Entrada de Pacifico, two other active TTC corridors, show that nothing has changed there either, except dropping the official connection by name to the Trans-Texas Corridor. La Entrada, to traverse through the Big Bend area, has a disturbing new twist with the resurrection of the idea to cede Big Bend to international interests by deeming it an “international park,” essentially to join it with Mexico’s “Big Bend” on the other side of the U.S. border.
The whole idea is to eventually develop future sea-port connections with Far-East ocean shipping lanes, and to steer federal transportation dollars into several otherwise useful local projects over time, and then incrementally connect the segments into a singular, identifiable system better described as the NAFTA Superhighway Trade Corridor and Toll Road System.
Part of the TTC concept for Ports-to-Plains includes the transport of wind power around the state (per a TxDOT feasibility study in 2007) and an oil sands pipeline. So it’s not a leap to suspect the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline (owned by a Canadian company called TransCanada) heading down from Alberta, Canada to Houston via East Texas right now may well tie into the TTC, or at least the larger picture of trade with China. Either way, several trans-national pipelines are still in the works through Texas that have been fraught with threats of eminent domain and downright bullying – all for oil that won’t likely benefit the U.S. but is touted as bringing new hydrocarbon supply to the U.S.
‘Come and Take it’
Anyone familiar with Texas history knows about the story behind the Gonzales flag emblazoned with a cannon and the words ‘Come and Take It.’ It was the challenge the Texians gave the commander of the Mexican army in 1835 when he sent for the cannon stationed there (in a move to disarm the Texians). They simply replied, ‘Come and take it.’ When the Mexican army came to retrieve the cannon, the Texians put up a fight and the army retreated. It was considered the beginning of the Texas revolution and it fight for independence. The rest is history.
As part of their proud history, Texans can add another ‘Come and Take It’ moment to their epic: the rise of the Trans-Texas Corridor and its subsequent defeat, at least nominally. Texans educated the nation on this coming land-grabbing superhighway tidal wave and generated a Texas-sized revolt against the Trans-Texas Corridor, striking fear in the eyes of any politician associated with it.
Yet, while Texans have a lot to celebrate for driving a stake through the heart of the Trans-Texas Corridor, as it was originally envisioned – it will no longer include the vast pie-in-the-sky “multi-modal” network of rail, telecommunications, power transmission, and pipelines of all sorts in a 1,200 foot wide foreign-controlled right of way – a toned-down version of that plan, however, still creeps its way into existence. These already state-contracted TTC segments continue to be built with supporters like Rick Perry, Robert Nichols and Steve Ogden, or their political heirs, looking to eventually connect these segments of transportation infrastructure to someday complete the Lone Star State’s massive contribution to the NAFTA Superhighway Trade Corridor and Toll Road System. So, all patriotic Americans must stay vigilant to kill this beast, wherever it lurks, whether in Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana or elsewhere around the country.
Texans stand ready!
Terri Hall is the founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF), which defends against eminent domain abuse and promotes non-toll transportation solutions. She’s a home school mother of eight turned citizen activist. Ms. Hall is also a contributor to