STPRA and some of its directors have been actively involved with the development of I-69 as a stand-alone project. One of our directors formed an organization to promote highway improvements on existing rights-of-way and sponsored a key regional meeting which galvanized opposition to a proposed western route of the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC)/I-69. Representatives of STPRA testified at two legislative sessions on behalf of using existing highway alignments for improvements. STPRA representatives have also served on TxDOT’s advisory and segment committees and the I-69 Alliance, a regional organization of community and business leaders from the Rio Grande Valley to the Houston area which was formed to promote the construction of I-69 in a reasonable and cost-effective manner. STPRA has also been involved in providing public input into plans for overpasses in Falfurrias, Premont, and Ben Bolt. We have kept our membership abreast of the status of I-69 and have been involved with ally organizations to educate the public, especially as the projects relate to eminent domain considerations.
We worked with our allies in the past legislative session to help formalize the end of the TTC, re-organize TxDOT through the Sunset Review process, which was not completed the past session, ensure adequate rural representation on the new TxDOT Commission, and reform eminent domain laws.
We joined with the Farm Bureau in supporting passage of $2 billion in bonds for construction of new roads and the prevention of converting existing highways into toll roads. We also followed their scrutiny of proposals in the past session to allow TxDOT to enter into comprehensive development agreements or CDAs.
STPRA generally supports improved highways throughout the South Texas region, but insists that improvements must be made along existing highway rights-of-way. We support limiting both encroachment on private property and the use of eminent domain. STPRA supports SJR 1, a constitutional amendment to provide for the transfer of certain general revenue to the economic stabilization fund, to provide for the transfer of certain general revenue to the state highway fund and the dedication of that revenue, and to authorize the payment of the principal and interest on certain highway improvement bonds from certain general revenue transferred to the state highway fund.
STPRA will continue to monitor planning and development of I-69 and other highways in South Texas through participation in the organizations mentioned above, informing the public, and advocating for private property rights in the process. We understand that many overpass routes and road plans are a public necessity, but we will help make sure that no project is undertaken without thorough public review and input.