Opponents of the controversial Trans-Texas Corridor appear to have won a victory. The Texas Department of Transportation announced it would limit the project to improving existing highways to create the new Interstate 69 rather than the original 1,200-foot-wide project.
Artist's rendering of the initial Trans-Texas Corridor project
Artist's rendering of the initial Trans-Texas Corridor project

After an initial review of a record 28,000 comments, the agency announced that "the new location corridors proposed and presented during the public hearings earlier this year are no longer under consideration."

The Trans-Texas Corridor is Texas Gov. Rick Perry's 50-year plan to build 4,000 miles of toll roads along with rail, utility and pipelines to make Texas the crossroads of North America. His vision is that the Trans-Texas Corridor will crisscross the state with highway and rail connections in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mexico. Plans originally called for dedicated truck lanes, separate passenger vehicle lanes, rail lines, and utility zones. Tolls would have been used to help fund the project.

Instead, the Texas DOT announced it would upgrade other highways, primarily U.S. Highway 59, instead of building a new transportation corridor through the countryside. Only new lanes to the highway would be tolled, according to the plan.

The initial phase likely would involve adding toll lanes to the present lanes of U.S. 59 and building bypasses around many built-up areas. Other corridor components, such as dedicated lanes for trucks or cars, tracks for passenger or freight rail and easements for utilities, could be added later as needed.

The Teamsters Union was one of the critics of the Trans-Texas Corridor that hailed the new development.

"The decision to scale back the Trans-Texas Corridor is a victory for the local citizens and union truck drivers who spoke out against it," said Tyson Johnson, director of the Teamsters National Freight Division and an International Vice President. "The last thing we need in Texas is a NAFTA superhighway that siphons more jobs south of the border."

The i-69 project, nicknamed the NAFTA Superhighway, was initially authorized by Congress in 1998 as a way to ease truck congestion while improving international access for U.S. goods. The idea was for it to stretch from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, going through Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

For more information on the Trans-Texas Corridor, go to www.keeptexasmoving.com.