Thursday, June 30, 2005

"Residents fear private land grab"

Corridor has people worried

June 30, 2005

By Margaret Garry
Taylor Daily Press
Copyright 2005

Residents fear private land grab, divided community

Residents in eastern Williamson County expressed their concerns that the Trans-Texas Corridor could divide communities and swallow up private land that has been in families for generations during a public meeting Monday night in Coupland.

More than 125 people attended the meeting on transportation hosted by the Coupland Civic Organization (CCO). County Commissioner Frankie Limmer and Wendy Reilly and Jason Nelson, chief of staff and legislative aide to State Rep. Mike Krusee, answered questions about the proposed routes of the Trans-Texas Corridor road and rail projects that could affect the area.

In addition to active members of the CCO, residents of Taylor, Hutto, Bartlett, Holland and Rogers attended the meeting, including a group representing the Blacklands Coalition, let by Chairman Ralph Snyder.

Residents said they are concerned a new road or rail line will divide the Coupland community, making it difficult for neighbors to interact with one another and causing a major impediment to the community's ability to function. They also expressed concern about the loss of large amounts of private land, some of which has been in families for generations.

Krusee serves as representative to District 52, which includes Taylor, Hutto, Coupland, Round Rock and much of rural eastern Williamson County. He is also chairman of the House Transportation Committee and has authored several bills that helped facilitate the construction of new roads and rail lines through the area.

While his staff members heard a wide range of questions related to transportation and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), there were many they were unable to answer.

Reilly stressed that though Krusee has no say in the final position of any rail or roadway, constituents should contact his office with concerns that can later be passed to TxDOT as decisions are made. Final decisions on construction projects of this nature are the responsibility of the Texas Transportation Commission, she said. Commissioners are appointed by the governor.

She also said that the portion of the corridor designated as a road through Williamson County will be SH 130, which runs from Georgetown to Seguin by way of Hutto, Pflugerville and Manor.

The proposed rail line would be transplanted from Austin, where it currently runs adjacent to Mopac expressway. A movement is underway to ask voters in the City of Austin to close that line to commercial freight in order to open it to the city's new light rail system, she said.

Krusee's staff speculated that a new line would probably run somewhere between the Mopac line and the rail line that currently runs through Coupland and Taylor, though they could provide no concrete information about where the rail line would go or what a specific time line for construction would be.

Coupland residents said they would continue to learn about the process, ask questions and take action to help keep Eastern Williamson County intact.

"This isn't just affecting Coupland," said one visitor from the Blacklands Coalition. "It affects the entire state."

The CCO meets at 7 p.m. the last Monday of each month in the Education Building of St. Peter's Church of Coupland.

A committee has been formed to oppose the construction of roads and rail that would be detrimental to the area.

Those interested in receiving updates about the proposed rail line can contact Susan Garry at to be placed on the CCO's rail issues e-mail list.

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