GeoCarta Has Moved

Aug 23, 2005

Eminent Domain Bill Lies In The Path Of The Trans-Texas Corridor

A section of Senate Bill 7 which was passed by the legislature last week may have a big impact on the Texas Department of transportation (TxDOT) plans for the Trans-Texas Corridor. The bill restricts governmental bodies from using their power of eminent domain to acquire property for the benefit a private party or to create economic development.

The Trans-Texas Corridor is visualized as a network of roads, railway and utility infrastructure criss-crossing the state. The system of roads is designed to accommodate growing trade and traffic on the state's interstate system. TxDot has been negotiating a deal with Cintra-Zachry for the company to build the corridor at its own expense in exchange for a 50-year lease to operate the corridor as a tollway. In addition to tolls, the original plan would allow Cintra-Zachry to develop and build restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and convenience stores along the corridor's route. Nothing in the bill prohibits the developer from building such facilities. However, under the new law, the state could not use it's eminent domain powers to cease private land for Cintra-Zachry to construct such facilities. The only way eminent domain powers could be used for such private enterprises would be with approval of the County Commissioner's Court that they would be located in.

The Trans-Texas Corridor has been a hotly debated topic, especially in central Texas. Opponents contend the system of roads and ancillary facilities is not economically feasible and would unnecessarily harm the environment. So contentious is the issue that last week when rumors surfaced that TxDOT had surveyors out mapping the proposed route the state agency was forced to issued a statement denying it.