I seldom mount a soapbox, but this just makes my soul sick.
If you are a citizen of Texas, and appreciate all that is wild and wonderful about the Big Bend area, then please, please help me in protesting this atrocious proposal. Write a letter, send an email, post a blog, and know that your two cents is worth more than gold for this effort.
Fran and her husband live in Alpine, and are very active in the preservation of the natural resources in the Big Bend area. I have her personal mailing address if anyone is interested in contacting her about how you can help or get involved on a larger scale.
It's a lot to read, but it is so important. Thank you all for your help!
March 6, 2007
Today, I write urging you to attend the TX DOT public meeting in Alpine, March 13, 2007 at Alpine High School from 6-8 p.m. As it undertakes a feasibility study, TX DOT is asking for your comments, concerns on the proposed highway called La Entrada al Pacifico proposed to run between Midland/Odessa and Presidio, and running through Marfa, Alpine, Ft. Stockton, and McCamey.
I am enclosing a fact/ issue sheet for your consideration. Just a few weeks ago, the United States and Mexico reached agreement providing for on-site inspection by U. S. inspectors of the Mexican long-haul trucks. Following that announcement, the U. S. Department of Transportation announced a pilot program allowing 100 Mexican trucking firms to enter the United States using any highway to go anyplace in the United States. This is set to start in 60 days. I assume there are some constraints on the process. I think, but am not sure, that they will be allowed to carry freight back to Mexico. My information came from the USDOT website and from an Associated Press story of February 23, 2007. What we should keep in mind is that the trucks in whatever numbers will be coming. The question is what route they will take.
Since the trucks will go anywhere they want, the La Entrada route may be promoted but not necessarily used as proposed. But regardless, the Marfa /Alpine downtown segments are vulnerable! We believe that the Feasibility Study now underway should include alternatives routes and railroad transport options. We hope that people will come out and express their concerns, ask questions and say what they want to have included in the study. If you can not come, please write to
Peggy Thurin, P. E.
Texas Department of Transportation
17111Preston Road, Suite 200
Dallas, Texas 75248-1232
Or e-mail your comments to TPP_LEAP@dot.state.tx.us
But we need a good turnout to demonstrate to TX DOT that we care about the future of our cities.
Thank you for any consideration you may give my request.
TXDOT PUBLIC MEETING
MARCH 13, 2007; ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL 6-8 P.M.
on the loop road just east of 5th St.
LA ENTRADA AL PACIFICO
THIS PROPOSED TRADE CORRIDOR WILL AFFECT ALL OF US.
PLEASE ATTEND AND LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD.
FACT: MOTRAN (Midland and Odessa Transportation Alliance), working closely with TXDOT for over 10 years, has been promoting a truck route carrying Asian goods to the northern and eastern United States from the Mexican west coast port of Topolobampo. The intended route will run through the Sierra Madres to Chihuahua City to Ojinaga/Presidio through Marfa and Alpine to Ft. Stockton and to Odessa/Midland. Currently Presidio truck numbers are 49/day (17,885/yr.). Projections for 2010 show 55/day (182,500/yr), for 2015 965/day (352,225?yr), and for 2020 1,455/day (531,075/yr.). The last projection is close to the 600,000/yr trucks now crossing between El Paso and Juarez.
The port and the routes across Mexico are not yet completed. Traffic has also been low because Mexican trucks previously could not travel more than 20 miles north of the border. This restriction has been lifted by agreement reached on February 22, 2007 between Mexico and the U.S. for truck inspection. In 60 days a pilot project will be in place in which 100 Mexican trucking firms may enter the United States and a 100 US trucking firms may enter Mexico. Critics are concerned about possible substandard trucks with unqualified drivers traveling our roadways. We can anticipate a dramatic increase in truck traffic over a short time period. TXDOT is already upgrading highways on the US side of this route; and is holding meetings regarding feasibility and planning for the future.
A railroad line runs from Presidio, through Alpine and on to Ft Stockton that is capable of carrying goods, included loaded truck trailers. Major portions of the track would need to be upgraded to allow faster travel. TXDOT has not allocated adequate resources for this rail line.
ISSUES RAISED BY LA ENTRADA
Comments for Marfa, Alpine and Ft Davis residents
ISSUE: Impact on communities. The traffic generated will have a destructive effect on the quality of life and economic bases for Alpine, Marfa and Ft. Davis. The economy and social life of these communities is based upon tourism, art, education and scientific inquiry. Scenery is our business. (over)
Businesses along the routes in the downtowns will suffer from congestion and limited access to their businesses; tourists will be disgusted to have fled urban traffic only to meet it in Big Bend small towns. Businesses in newly energized Marfa will discover they made a mistake in locating in there; small businesses in Alpine will be driven out. We are not communities of large chains. Years of hard work and investment, of owners� savings will have gone for naught. If trucks choose to take the route through Ft. Davis, chaos could result. Safety is a major issue both in towns and on the highways. Highways bearing truck traffic quickly are worn and hazardous.
ISSUE: Optional routes and bypasses. Plans must provide for a direct path from Presidio to IH 10 so that heavy truck traffic has an option to bypass these communities entirely. This could be accomplished, in part, by upgrading Highway 90, located on ample right of way, from West of Marfa to Van Horn where the interstate connects east-, northeast-, and west-bound traffic.
Bypasses around individual cities are more problematic. They are not on the planning table now, are not funded and their physical feasibility is dubious. TXDOT�s policy is not to build bypasses until the need is demonstrated. By then it is too late. And even if bypasses were being planned, land acquisition could lead to lawsuits which would take years to resolve.
ISSUE: Health, safety and environmental protection. For our communities the issue is not just economic; it�s a matter of health and safety and environmental protection. Truck traffic is faster than tourist traffic, creating a greater road hazard. Trucks burning even �clean� diesel fuel generate fine particulate matter which will travel at least a mile, affecting the health of citizens working in the area and children attending school. Idling engines will become common as traffic backs up. Big Bend residents recently learned that smog damaging air quality is coming to us from refineries in urban areas to the East; the truck traffic would just add to that burden.
ISSUE: Rail Alternatives. While some work is being done on the Texas Pacifico Transportation (formerly called the South Orient before the leasing to Mexican interests), this alternative is not receiving adequate attention or funding from TXDOT. Truck trailers can be loaded onto trains for transit across the state. This option requires facilities for loading and unloading the trailers, and, in order to be a viable alternative, track must be improved to carry the load and the volume at greater speeds than rails are currently rated to handle. As fuel costs rise, this option will become more attractive. It can save fuel, protect the environment, make it safer for area citizens, and expedite movement of goods to processing facilities or markets.
ISSUE: Truck and Driver Safety Standards. With the agreement to allow Mexican trucks to travel more than 20 miles in from the border, concern regarding the trucks and their drivers is amplified. Our communities so near the border must be assured of a thorough inspection program, one guaranteeing that the vehicles from Mexico meet the safety standards US trucks must meet and that drivers are subject to comparable employment and licensing standards.