Gov. Perry Signs Transportation Bill into Law
Also Announces $20 Million in Funding for Temple Highway Project
Gov. Rick Perry today signed into law the major Transportation Bill of the 79th Texas Legislature, House Bill 2702. The legislation clarifies existing law and offers greater protections for property owners.
He also announced that the state is providing $20 million in funding to complete the Northwest Loop, which will help meet the transportation needs of thousands of families in the Temple area. "These funds will help get traffic moving, and they are just a part of our broader commitment to improving and expanding existing roads," Perry said.
"When I first proposed the Trans Texas Corridor, my goal was to give Texas a world class transportation system that moves people and goods faster and safer, and today Texas is taking a significant step to bring state law into accordance with what my vision for the Trans Texas Corridor has been all along," Perry added. "I am proud to sign HB 2702 into law because it will add greater protections for private property owners, expand Texas' ability to build needed transportation infrastructure and ensure that roads that are toll-free today will remain toll-free in the future."
An essential part of the overall Texas transportation vision is the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC), an innovative plan that allows Texas to leverage the resources of the private sector to build roads, railways and pipelines faster and cheaper using less overall land than traditional methods of expansion. Private investors have already agreed to pay $7.2 billion to build the first segments of the Corridor stretching from San Antonio to Dallas without any upfront costs to taxpayers for construction.
"As the Corridor idea has moved closer to becoming a reality, I have heard the concerns expressed by some Texans about the vagueness in current law governing the Corridor," Perry said. "HB 2702 will provide greater clarity and significant protections for property owners and ensure that they are treated fairly when the state must build new roads."
Under existing law, landowners who participate in the Trans Texas Corridor are already offered either a lump-sum payment for their land or long-term royalty payments similar to those offered in the oil and gas industry. HB 2702 provides additional economic assurances, including:
* Under this bill, if a new road cuts through a landowner's property, the state must offer to purchase a remaining tract of land if it has little or no value to the owner.
* If the property loses value as a result of the TTC, the state must provide fair compensation for the damages, including those caused by inaccessibility problems.
* The Texas Department of Transportation must periodically re-evaluate the need for building each segment of the Corridor to ensure that construction doesn't begin until absolutely necessary.
* When construction begins on a particular segment, the state will only be allowed to use property next to the Corridor for transportation-related facilities and the state is prohibited from condemning land along the TTC.
* The State will be prohibited from extracting groundwater except for incidental on-site use.
* Commercial development in the Corridor will be limited to gas stations and convenience stores, subject to local zoning ordinances and property taxes, to limit the negative impact to local businesses.
* TxDOT will maintain oversight of toll rates so that those who choose to drive on the Corridor can know that they will pay a fair price.
* The bill enacts as law Gov. Perry's position that no tax-funded highways will be converted to toll roads unless approved by local voters.
* TxDOT will have the legal authority to address freight and passenger rail issues, such as relocation projects.
"Today we are not only improving upon the Trans Texas Corridor plan by adding new protections, but by expanding the state's ability to tackle complex transportation problems faster and cheaper," Perry said.