Austin, TX – Today, State Representative John Zerwas applauded the Transportation Commission on its formal adoption of statutory principles to help address public concern over of the direction of state transportation policy.
The Transportation Commission today adopted a minute order reaffirming five statutory requirements and issuing two new protections for future transportation infrastructure development.
Rep. Zerwas stated “Transportation infrastructure is critical to the future growth of Texas.” He continued: “I am working to ensure that the state’s transportation needs are met responsibly and with respect for private property rights. While the latest action by the Commission is a step in the right direction, we still have work ahead to ensure property rights are preserved.”
The minute order adopted today by the Transportation Commission is a response to a February 4 letter from the Texas Conservative Coalition (TCC), the conservative caucus of the Texas Legislature. Rep. Zerwas, along with thirty-three of his colleagues in the State House, signed the letter asking for adherence to existing transportation safeguards. Based on the TCC letter, the Transportation Commission has formally agreed to adhere to the following 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 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.
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.
Rep. Zerwas stated, “It was time that the Transportation Commission clearly and decisively responded to Texans’ concerns regarding state transportation policy.” He concluded: “But even with today’s recommitment to sound principles, I will remain vigilant in the important challenge of creating a transportation policy that meets the needs of the people of Texas and respects private property rights. I thank Chairwoman Delisi and the Commission for the progress made and look forward to the work ahead to find the best solutions for Waller, Wharton, and Fort Bend Counties.”
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