State officials said Tuesday they are scrapping the proposed network of tolls roads known as the Trans-Texas Corridor, a massive transportation project that critics called an expensive boondoggle.
"The days of the Trans-Texas Corridor are over, it's finished up," said Gov. Rick Perry, who had proposed the idea as a way to relieve highway congestion in Texas. Speaking on a conference call from Iraq, Perry said, "The name 'Trans-Texas Corridor' is over with."
Karen Collins, of McKinney, who fought against the project with the group Corridor Watch, called the decision "awesome" and "very, very exciting."
She said the Trans-Texas Corridor would not have been an asset to the area.
"I do not see a huge swath of tolls coming up through the center of Texas as a viable transportation improvement," Collins said.
The Texas Department of Transportation said Tuesday the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor is dead in its initial form and that plans for the highway network have been scaled down.
Amadeo Saenz, executive director of TxDOT, unveiled new guidelines Tuesday for developing a network of toll roads, rails and pipelines that have grown ever-more controversial since Perry began promoting the idea in 2002.
Associates of Perry have said in recent weeks the corridor won't take shape as originally envisioned.
Perry said projects such as Interstate 69 -- which would run from northeast Texas to the Rio Grande Valley -- and highways that will run parallel to north-south I-35 will continue, he said. He also said Texas' commitment to building roads is what attracts many companies and their jobs to the state, he said.
"I think the concept of the Trans-Texas Corridor is frankly one that got misunderstood," Perry said.
The governor said it's not a public relations failure on his part or a rejection of his views. He said Texans realize, as he's been pointing out, that there's major congestion along I-35 and other highways. He said Texans want to see their leaders have broad visions and not be "sticking our heads in the sand."
"I'm not afraid of taking on big and tough issues," Perry said.
Saenz said Texans have spoken and that transportation officials are listening. He said major corridor projects will now comprise several small segments closer to 600 feet wide and will no longer be called the Trans-Texas Corridor.
"Citizens across the state have had good ideas about how Texas roads can better serve Texas communities," said Saenz. "I believe this transformed vision for the TTC and other major corridor development goes a long way toward addressing the concerns we've heard over the past several years."
Original plans called for corridors up to 1,200 feet to allow for several modes of transportation and utility transmission facilities.
On Tuesday, Perry, who is in Iraq with the Department of Defense visiting Texas soldiers, commented on the change of scope.
"I've told people, 'If you have ideas ... that haven't been vetted or thought about yet ... that allow us to move our products and our people expeditiously and safely, boy, we are open to them and want to hear them,'" Perry said.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments said it remains committed to building the so-called Regional Outer Loop around the Metroplex. The eastern portion of the Regional Outer Loop through Ellis, Dallas, Kaufman, Rockwall and Collin counties would have been part of the Trans-Texas Corridor.
"The first portion of that to go to construction is the southeast corner, which is Loop 9, and we think that will go into construction in about a year," said the council's director of transporation, Michael Morris.
To read more on the TTC visit www.txdot.gov.