Wednesday, June 3, 1998 
                                    10:00 am 
                  City Council Chambers, Corpus Christi, Texas 
         Pursuant to a notice posted in accordance with Senate Rule  
         11.11, a public hearing of the Senate Committee on  
         Transportation (Interim) was held on Wednesday, June 3, 1998  
         at the City Council Chambers in Corpus Christi, Texas.   
         MEMBERS PRESENT:                        MEMBERS ABSENT: 
         Senator Kenneth Armbrister              Senator Troy Fraser 
         Senator David Cain                      Senator Drew Nixon 
         Senator Mario Gallegos, Jr.             Senator Bill Ratliff 
                                                 Senator Carlos Truan 
         The Chair called the meeting to order at 10:15 am.  The  
         following business was transacted.   
         The following members arrived after the roll was called:   
         Senator Carlos Truan 
         Also in attendance were  the following: 
         Representative Gene Seaman 
         Representative Judy Hawley  
         Representative Jaime Capelo 
         The Chair recognized the Honorable Richard Borchard, County  
         Judge of Nueces County and  Chair of the Hwy. 77/281  
         Coalition.  Judge Borchard's written comments are attached.   
         Judge Borchard voiced his support for the proposed I-69  
         Corridor and for the JFK Causeway project.  Also cited was the  
         hardship experienced  due to the lack of an interstate highway  
         in the area.  Judge Borchard referred to the history of South  
         Texas not getting its fair share of transportation funding.   
         He described how the Hwy. 77/281 Coalition has helped to  
         organize area support for more transportation funding.  
         Questions and comments by the members followed.  
         The Chair recognized the Honorable Representative Gene Seaman  
         to read a letter on behalf of  Senator Truan.  Senator Truan  
         was not able to attend the morning part of the hearing because  
         of a death in the family.  Senator Truan expressed support for  
         the I-69 (NAFTA Highway) and the JFK Causeway projects, as  
         well as the need to work toward a more intermodal  
         transportation infrastructure.  The Port of Corpus Christi is  
         an important element of this goal.  Senator Truan also cited  
         Corpus Christi's partnership with Laredo and the benefits that  
         will be achieved through the partnership relating to  
         itnermodal, international trade.  
         The Chair recognized the Honorable Mayor Lloyd Neal.  Mr. Neal  
         stated two basic problems to be addressed in the future:   
         education and transportation.  The Corpus area has made great  
         gains in education, but has been left out of transportation  
         funding.  The area needs help getting the JFK Causeway   
         project moved to "priority one."  The traffic volume is too  
         low, according to TxDot funding formulas, but he thinks the  
         project rates "priority one" status because of safety  
         considerations alone.  Mr. Neal  suggested that the committee  
         think of a way to educate local officials and the public about  
         project funding, the different pots of money.  Many locals  
         need help understanding how to properly manage projects to an  
         efficient completion.   
         Questions and comments from the members followed.  
         The Chair recognized  Armando Beteta, Consul of Mexico.  Mr  
         Beteta stated that free  trade has been beneficial to Mexico,  
         and actually aided Mexico's 1994 economic recovery.   
         Questions and comments by the members followed.  
         The Chair recognized Mr. Glenn Guillory, Aransas County  
         Commissioner.  Mr Guillory made his statement on behalf of  
         County Judge Toni Harden.  He said their process with TxDot  
         has worked well in general. However, he is concerned about  
         rural areas being "outgunned" in the process by urban  
         lobbyists.  Also, he voiced his concern over the  areas  
         evacuation routes, overweight vehicles, and the problem of  
         having to re-do expensive and time-consuming environmental  
         studies that have "sat on the shelf  too long".   
          Questions and comments by the members followed.  
         The Chair recognized Mr. Joe McComb, Nueces County  
         Commissioner.  Mr. McComb stated that the JFK project needs to  
         move forward even though it doesn't meet TxDot's 12-month  
         traffic standards.  For 4-5 months it does meet them, and  
         those months are in hurricane season Mr. McComb is in the  
         trucking business, and says that before there is any  
         consideration of raising the gas tax, there needs to be  
         assurance that the money goes towards roads instead of other  
         state functions.  Mr. McComb referred to the JFK Causeway and  
         the fact the causeway can be built cheaper if it were built at  
         a lower height than the $37 million plan.  He went on to say  
         that only as an extreme last resort could he support funding  
         the Causeway with tolls.  Tolls only work when there's a free  
         alternative route, and this bridge won't have a real  
         Questions and comments by the members followed.  
         The Chair recognized the Honorable Helen Walker, Victoria  
         County Jude, and I-69 Board member as well as past president  
         of the County Judges and Commissioners Association.  Ms.  
         Walker's written testimony is attached.   
         Questions and comments by the members followed.  
         The Chair recognized the Honorable Gary Middleton, Mayor of  
         Victoria.  On the topic of alternative modes of  
         transportation, Mr. Middleton referred to the fact that  
         Victoria did a transit feasibility study in 1996-97 and  
         decided to go ahead and implement.  However,  now that the  
         city is a direct recipient of federal funds, they are subject  
         to federal rules and they are more arduous than state rules.   
         Mr. Middleton also spoke on railroads in Victoria and noted  
         that of the 64 grade crossings there is only one underpass.   
         Since the UP merger, train traffic has doubled in the area.   
         The trains from the south have to come through Victoria to get  
         to Houston and this has become a problem.  Mr. Middleton also  
         cited the difficulty of adhering to UP/SP requirements  
         relating to openings and closures of grade crossings.        
         Questions and comments by the members followed.  
         The Chair recognized Mr. Muhammad Ulkarim,  Corpus Christi  
         MPO.  Mr. Ulkarim stressed the region is becoming more  
         important and that we must look at short,  medium and  
         long-term planning.  JFK,  
         I-69, and several exchanges are immediate needs.   
         Question and comments by the members followed.  
         The Chair recognized Ms. Lauren Walthour representing Robstown  
         Economic Development Corporation, and the RADC Citizens of  
         Nueces.  Ms Walthour testified to the many trains that pass  
         through Robstown each day with virtually no economic benefit  
         to the area, and she estimates that the numbers will rise soon  
         to one train every thirty to forty minutes.  
         Questions and comments by the members followed.  
         The Chair recognized Mr. Pat Veteto representing the Greater  
         Corpus Christi Business Alliance as well  as Chair of the  
         Transportation Committee.  Mr. Veteto expressed concern  with  
         the diversion of money from Hwy Fund 6 to non-transportation  
         related state functions.  This diversion is harming the state.   
         Questions and comments by the members followed.  
         The Chair recognized Ms. Lisa Cortinas representing the Gulf  
         Coast Regional Planning Commission.  Ms. Cortinas informed the  
         committee Victoria is in the application process for an urban  
         system and at this time  has no public transit.  Ms. Cortinas  
         said their current budget is less than $500k. When asked by  
         Senator Gallegos how much they really needed? she didn't have  
         an exact number but said their fleet needed to be replaced..   
         The Chair recognized Ms. Marie Speer from Corpus Christi.  Ms.  
         Speer stressed the need for investing money to fix the JFK  
         Causeway once and for all instead of the periodic maintenance  
         which is too expensive.   
         The Chair recognized Ms. Mary Beth Nelson from Corpus Christi.   
         Ms. Nelson, expressed her appreciation for the visit by the  
         Committee.  Ms. Nelson also expressed  safety concerns  
         relating to the JFK Causeway and believes  this project should  
         be fast tracked.  She also stressed her opposition to the  
         suggestions made earlier by Mr. Joe McComb regarding the  
         reduction in the bridge height.   
         The Chair recognized Mr. Robert Colmenares with the US  
         Department of  Commerce.  Mr. Colmenares explained he works to  
         promote  minority businesses, and the program is funded  
         through USDOC.  There is a problem with the term "temporary  
         businesses," because TxDot doesn't conduct business with  
         temporary businesses.   
         The Chair recognized Mr. Gary Bushell with the Greater Corpus  
         Christi Business Alliance and the Hwy 77/281.  Mr.  Bushell's  
         written testimony is attached.   
         The Chair recognized Ms. Linda Watson representing the  
         Regional Transit Association. Ms. Watson testified the Corpus  
         Regional Transit Association employs a   cent sales tax.  RTA  
         not only offers bus service but, para-transit, rubber-tire  
         trolley and a ferry.  The fares for these services bring in  
         $1million annually.  
         Questions and comments by the members followed.  
         The Chair recognized Mr. Rick Moldonado, with the Port of  
         Corpus Christi to speak on behalf of Mr. William Dodge.  Mr.  
         Moldonado's written testimony is attached.   
         The Chair recognized Mr. Robert Nichols with the  
         Transportation Commission was in attendance to answer any  
         questions the members my have.   
         There being no further business to come before the committee,  
         at 4:45pm, the chair moved the Interim Committee on  
         Transportation  stand recessed, subject to the call of the  
         Chair.  Their being no objection, the motion carried.  
         Senator Ken Armbrister, Chair                Committee Clerk