Letter Writing and the next round of TxDot public meetings

Hey Y’all,
    We just got word that the next round of TXDOT La Entrada public meetings will be on these dates in February: Tu 19th in Alpine, Weds 20th in Presidio, Mon 25 Midland, Tu 26 in Ft. Stockton. They’ve put all the “alternative” routes on one map, but it isn’t on the TXDOT website as of Friday evening. It’ll probably be up in the coming week.
    Here’s a press release about our Letter Writing Parties that will occur on Saturday January 26th, and some posters too. Feel free to pass on the press release to any media outlets that should have it, especially in Austin and San Antonio. (Please let me know who it went to!) Also pass it on to friends across Texas who might be interested in writing letters.
    TXDOT is still looking at alternatives so the more we can highlight sending La Entrada through El Paso before the meetings above the better.  Also, on Monday both the Brewster County Judge and the director of the Rio Grande Council of Governments expressed support for the El Paso option.
    Anyone who wants to host a party should contact me and I’ll send you our email packet with sample letters and information flyers. (Small affairs count too!) If there’s already a party in your town see about volunteering, too.
    As you may have noticed we don’t have a high-dollar PR firm promoting the parties, so any help at all in getting the word out makes a huge difference.
Pete Smyke
Here’s the text of the release; the attachment has a map and contact info as well:

On Saturday, January 26th, from 1-3 pm, Texans will gather at several locations across the state to write letters to TXDOT asking them to divert the La Entrada al Pacifico truck corridoraway from its planned route through the Big Bend. This event is being sponsored by the Reviva! Collective and Big Bend Letters, two Alpine groups fighting the LEAP corridor.

“Letter-Writing Parties” 1-08-ltr-party-release.doc will take place at the following locations:

Alpine La Trattoria – 901 E. Holland Ave.

Austin Jo’s Coffee – 1300 S. Congress

Jo’s Coffee – 242 West 2nd St.

Denton Jupiter House Coffee – 106 N. Locust Street

Ft. Davis Twin Souls Coffee House – 209 N. State St.

Marathon Eve’s Garden Bed & Breakfast – Ave. C & N. 3rd

Marfa Marfa Coffee & Wine – 103 Highland Ave.

San Antonio Ruta Maya on the Riverwalk – 107 E. Martin St.

Terlingua Family Crisis Center of the Big Bend – “Next to the Porch in the Ghost Town”

Big Bend communities have worked hard to develop their region’s tourism and retirement relocation economy, based on clean air, small town charm, breathtaking vistas, and a lack of traffic, congestion, and pollution. Many residents feel that a truck route through their small towns will destroy this economy, to say nothing of the region’s traditional ways of life and unique and fragile ecosystems.

Information about La Entrada Al Pacifico will be available at the parties, or folks can visit www.stopthetrucks.org , or www.revivacollective.org . Both sites examine the numerous issues surrounding the placement of a truck route through one of Texas’ most wild and unique regions, and contain sample letters and contact information for state and federal elected officials and TXDOT.

Folks who are interested in hosting a letter-writing party on January 26th can contact bigbendletters@yahoo.com .

The Texas portion of the La Entrada Al Pacifico trade corridor was officially designated by the legislature in 1997 as following US 67 from Presidio, through Marfa and Alpine to Ft. Stockton, and from there via US 385 and I-20 to Midland. This route was named a Federal High Priority Trade Corridor in 2005. (Texas H. B. 2115, the LEAP authorizing legislation, literally suspended the Texas constitution to avoid having the bill read on the Texas House and Senate floor; it passed on the local and consent calendar.)

While the originating traffic for this route was to have come from Topolobampo, Mexico on the Gulf of Baja, the difficulty of crossing the Sierra Madre Occidental (including Copper Canyon) indicates that Chihuahua City will likely be the starting point for most trucks following this route into the United States.

The Letter-Writing Parties seek to point out to TXDOT Executive Director Amadeo Saenz that the current LEAP plan is projected to traverse heavily mountainous terrain on two lane roads through Mexico and the Big Bend. However, trucks traveling from Chihuahua City through El Paso to Midland have four-lane highways the entire way, and existing railroads on this route can create even greater efficiencies (and reduce pollution) handling bulk shipments.

Additionally, the six-lane Tornillo-Guadalupe Bridge, scheduled for completion in 2010, will bypass El Paso to the east and provide swifter access to I-10 (and I-20) through a state of the art Immigration and Customs facility.

El Paso (and Juarez) officials have embraced cross-border trade as an integral part of their area’s economic model and are actively seeking and planning for increased traffic, in marked contrast to the Big Bend’s relatively limited trade infrastructure

TXDOT is currently conducting a feasability study of the LEAP truck route based on the corridor described in H. B. 2115. At the study’s first public meeting in March of 2007 in Alpine, nearly four hundred Big Bend residents attended, with a show of hands revealing that everyone except one person opposed the LEAP corridor.

A second public meeting will be held soon to discuss alternatives TXDOT has identified to the original LEAP plan. (These alternatives will be posted on that agency’s website before the second meeting.)

The Reviva! Collective and Big Bend Letters encourage Texans and folks everywhere to communicate with TXDOT soon regarding the La Entrada Al Pacifico trade corridor at tpp_txdot-leap@dot.state.tx.us (note underscore after “tpp”) or 1-800/517-4652, or better yet join us on January 26th at any of the locations listed above.

Letters written at the January 26th events will be gathered by the Reviva! Collective and presented to TXDOT officials at the next public meeting of the La Entrada Al Pacifico feasability study.


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