Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Letter to Editor: "Remind Krusee that you elected him to be aware of the issues that affect his constituents."

Krusee should protect interests of constituents

Taylor Daily Press Copyright 2005

Editor: Rarely have I heard the words, "I don't know," more often than during the June 27 town hall meeting hosted by the Coupland Civic Organization to discuss proposed rail lines through the Coupland area. The guest speakers, County Commissioner Frankie Limmer and Wendy Reilly and Jason Nelson, chief of staff and legislative aide to Rep. Mike Krusee, were consistently unable - or unwilling, as has been speculated by many in the community - to provide any information about prospective routes or timelines for the proposed rail lines.

For those who are unaware of the situation ..., the Trans-Texas Corridor is a plan established by TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation). They will include road, rail, utility and pipeline routes. Most of these routes will be tolled. Massive amounts of land will be taken from families and farmers across the state and handed over to Cintra, the Spanish development firm that was awarded the first contract to build the Corridor.

Eventually, TxDOT envisions corridors like this stretching across the state, from the Panhandle to the Rio Grande Valley. The first project is slated to run along a line east of I-35. Though we have been reassured that the road route through Williamson County will be SH 130, currently under construction near Hutto and Pflugerville, the thought of the corridors project coming to fruition is a daunting prospect. The United States Supreme Court ruled only last week that it is entirely constitutional for a state or local government to take land from its current owner under eminent domain and give it to another private entity (Kelo vs. New London). ...

One would think that our elected officials would be doing everything in their power to protect their constituents from such a fearsome local and national climate. Unfortunately, they aren't.

If you go to the Texas House of Representatives Web site, you will find that some of the most noteworthy bills authored or coauthored by Rep. Krusee in recent history include HB 2656, which prompted the frenzy over a potential airport that threatened to take land from many residents near FM 1660 outside of Hutto and caused an unusual amount of polarization among the citizens of Taylor. He also worked on HB 1546, which paved the way for HJR 54, a constitutional amendment that will create a rail relocation fund which someday may issue the funds required to sever the Coupland area in two in order to construct an alternate route to a freight line that currently runs through central Austin.

For a full listing of bills authored or coauthored by Rep. Krusee during the 79th Legislative Session, please visit www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlo/reports/author/79R/A3485.HTM.

After sponsoring all of this legislation, one would think that Rep. Krusee would be keeping pretty close tabs on the actions that TxDOT has been taking after being granted so many new powers. Judging by the meeting in Coupland ..., this is not the case either. Staff members from Krusee's office were unsure of where the rail line would go - other than somewhere between two old rail lines located along Mopac Expressway and SH 95 - and unaware of even the most basic timetable for when construction would begin.

At the Coupland meeting, the theme might as well have been uncertainty. Residents were uncertain whether their century-old farms would be seized to make way for someone else's idea of 'progress' in the near future, and guest speakers were unsure of how to answer simple questions about the progress of the projects that may do so. Many of the questions were based directly on the legislation mentioned earlier in this letter.

In conclusion, if you are at all concerned about the future of your town, your home or your family, please contact your state representative. Remind him that you elected him to be aware of the issues that affect his constituents.

Instead of authoring bills that will help facilitate the destruction of this beautiful and historic area and turn "miles and miles of Texas" into miles and miles of asphalt and railroad ties, he should be doing things that benefit the communities he serves.


Margaret Garry , Coupland, Texas

Taylor Daily Press: www.taylordailypress.net