Tuesday, July 12, 2005

TxDOT: " Private developers can't condemn private property for the Trans-Texas Corridor ." (The state will do it for them).

Editorial mistaken

July 12, 2005

Editor, the Advocate:
The Victoria Advocate
Copyright 2005

Other than school finance and our worsening dry spell, the Trans-Texas Corridor is one of the most-discussed topics in the state this summer.

We are appreciative of this ongoing discussion, but public debate always comes with an unfortunate side affect: misinformation.

Your July 6 editorial, "Texas will limit eminent domain," contains a major error of fact. In referring to the corridor, the editorial has this incorrect line: "Its (the Trans-Texas Corridor's) private developers cannot fund and build it without using eminent domain on a scale that greatly - and legitimately - worries many Texans."

As TxDOT has said before, only government has the legal authority to condemn property for transportation right of way. There is no law on the books or to my knowledge even contemplated that would vest any private entity with the power to take land.

We certainly understand that many landowners are concerned about what impact the corridor will have on their property, but we have said since this project was first brought up that we will do everything possible to minimize the purchase of land for right of way.

Value and damage will be determined through the normal appraisal and compensation process, including the right to jury trial.

Beyond that, the last session of the legislature passed House Bill 2702, a measure which contains several new protections for landowners.

These include a requirement that TxDOT would pay damages to a landowner if a portion of their land is made inaccessible by the corridor.

Bottom line: Private developers can't condemn private property for the Trans-Texas Corridor, and any property acquired by the state can only be used for transportation purposes.

MIKE COX, communications manager
Texas Department of Transportation

The Victoria Advocate: www.thevictoriaadvocate.com