Senator Glenn Hegar Comments on TxDOT I-69/TTC Announcement
Sunset Advisory Commission Vice-Chair Warns That Many Questions Remain
Katy, Texas - Today, Texas State Senator Glenn Hegar commented on the Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) attempt to quell opposition to the controversial I-69/TTC project by publicly announcing plans to construct most of the route along existing roadways. Hegar said that while the announcement is a welcome one and provides some evidence that the department has finally begun to listen to the voices of local residents, this long saga is by no means over, as many questions regarding key portions of the route remain unanswered.
Hegar said that today's announcement was no doubt spurred by the overwhelming calls for change from the public and the legislature. "The public showed its strong concerns early this year when some 12,000 Texans attended the I-69/TTC hearings and 28,000 comments poured in on the subject. The legislature targeted TxDOT with 23 interim charges and one of its arms, the Sunset Advisory Commission, issued a scathing report that took the department to task for its lack of openness, disjointed planning practices, and refusal to follow the department's core mission of listening to the people they serve- Texas taxpayers," Hegar commented.
"Anyone who has read the Sunset Commission's Report on TxDOT knows that one of the department's biggest shortcomings and the source of many of its problems is the deaf ear it has continually turned to the public and legislature," said Hegar. The Senator further stated, "I greatly appreciate the fact that they are attempting to address this long simmering problem, but it would be shortsighted to look at this announcement as anything more than a foundation for the host of further reforms that must be instituted by the department. Fundamentally, transportation decisions must not be based on politically timed decisions, but instead based on a sound policy of moving Texans and giving Texans true reasons to once again put their trust in the department."
Hegar said that with this announcement, many landowners may take comfort that their land is no longer within the recommended path of the I-69/TTC and thus no longer threatened by eminent domain. The Senator, however, added that caution must be taken before leaping to any premature sighs of relief, because TxDOT cannot guarantee that one hundred percent of I-69/TTC will remain within existing corridor routes. For example, questions remain over whether new routes will be needed to bypass existing cities. Furthermore, all other questions and concerns pertaining to a proposed TTC still exist despite TxDOT's most recent announcement.
Senator Hegar further stated that, "the unfortunate reality of today's public announcement is that it only serves to reaffirm what thousands of Texans had already determined a long time ago: that the construction of an entirely new route is neither economically feasible nor practical. For the good of our State, today must mark a fundamental shift away from the status quo and be the beginning of a new era for TxDOT. Hopefully today is a watershed point whereby the department will truly work with local communities, listen to their ideas, and begin to implement meaningful reforms that provide transparency, accountability, and openness. If today's announcement is anything short of this fundamental shift then it will be an announcement based on political convenience and not a good faith effort to keep Texans moving forward towards a day when TxDOT can once again regain the trust of the public and the Texas legislature."
Senator Hegar is currently serving his first term in the Texas Senate after serving two terms in the House of Representatives. Senator Hegar serves as Vice-Chair of the Sunset Advisory Commission. He is a 6th generation Texan, and earns a living farming rice and corn on land that has been in his family since the mid 1800s. The Hegars reside in Katy, Texas.