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Letter Perfect

Beautious Big Bend is being battered right and left lately with bad, bad, bad policy.

Patterson has pretty much ruined any chance of a reasonable solution to the Christmas Mountains fiasco. (Forcing a buy-back and redonation of the preserve doesn't count as reasonable in my book.)

Chertoff and Homeland Security are anxious to start digging the Berlin Border Wall across this remote landscape.

And (to top it off) Benders also have a non-sensical trade corridor known as La Entrada to contend with. But thanks to some great agitators and resisters and do-gooders we have the opportunity to do something here in SA to help.

While letter-writing may not sound like much, it is the very least you could do (meaning: do this much, minimum).

Should you opt for more active resistance, I'm sure any number of folk would be willing to help find a trucking firm for you to splay out in front of... The campaign will be at Ruta next week.


[BELOW IS THE FULL PRESS RELEASE]

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 (LEAP) truck corridor away 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” will take place at the following locations:
San Antonio     
Ruta Maya on the Riverwalk - 107 E. Martin St.
Austin               
Jo’s Coffee - 1300 S. Congress
Jo’s Coffee - 242 West 2nd St.
Denton       
Jupiter House Coffee - 106 N. Locust Street
Alpine       
La Trattoria - 901 E. Holland Ave.
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.
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.

Posted by Greg Harman on 1/16/2008
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