David Langford, an activist for the Texas Wildlife Association, is organizing farmers and ranchers whose land could be cut in half or condemned by the Trans-Texas Corridor. An early plan for central Texas showed a corridor passing near the homestead Langford's family settled in 1851. With the state's new "quick claim" ability -- granted under TTC legislation -- his family homestead could be gone in 90 days, he says, transferred to private investors operating the corridor. Though he would be compensated financially, he's still steamed. "I can't believe Rick Perry's grandfather would want his house and ranch taken and turned over to Paris Hilton's family to build a hotel on one of these roads," he says.
Opponents argue the roads may require the seizure of "more than half a million acres of private property." Gov. Rick Perry's "Trans Texas Corridor Fact Sheet" doesn't mention a total -- it gets vague whenever the interesting criticisms come up -- but it does claim that the project "will ultimately result in the purchase [sic] of less public land than would otherwise be needed to keep up with growth, and all the needed land will be purchased during one process, instead of on a piecemeal basis as we need to build out infrastructure one project at a time." Apart from the moral issues involved in taking private property, this runs up against the possibility that a process of "piecemeal" evolution is less likely to grab giant chunks of land that aren't actually "needed."
One thing that isn't clear to me, as a fellow who hasn't lived in Texas for years and hasn't been following this story closely: How much is the state planning to spend on the corridor, and how much is coming from private sources? Perry's factsheet says that "The first segment of the corridor...will require no tax dollars up front for construction while ensuring a $7.2 billion private investment in the corridor." The phrases "first" and "up front" imply that Texas taxpayers will be paying money down the road, but somehow a document that can cite the exact amount a private company will be spending doesn't say how much the state plans to kick in.