Road Warrior

If Ric Williamson is so smart—and he is—why is he letting the Trans-Texas Corridor take a toll on his reputation?

SINCE I STARTED THIS,” Ric Williamson said, referring to his six-year tenure on the Texas Transportation Commission, “I’ve had two heart attacks, and I’m trying to avoid the third one, which the doctors tell me will be fatal.” Imagine yourself as the most hated person in Texas, public enemy number one to a million or more people, the object of vitriol wherever you go, with scarcely a friend in the Legislature, and you will have a pretty good idea of what life is like these days for the man who conceived and executed the most controversial public policy to come out of Austin in my lifetime: the Trans-Texas Corridor.

The Corridor, if anyone needs reminding, is a plan to relieve congestion on major highways—Interstates 10, 35, and 45 and U.S. 59 (soon to become Interstate 69)—by allowing private companies to bid for the right to build and operate toll roads. These routes, which will include rail lines for freight and commuter travel and, possibly, pipelines and electric transmission lines, will cut a wide swath through rural

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