Opposition to TTC-69 is building
TxDOT still accepting comments on I-69 corridor
By:Frederick Roberts and Billy Dragoo
Waller County News Citizen
WALLER COUNTY - Opponents of the I-69/Trans Texas Corridor have been frantically trying to get an extension of the Aug. 29 deadline for comments on the proposed super highway, and according to the Texas Department of Transportation, comments will continue to be accepted. The Aug. 29 deadline was for comments on the public meetings held July 28 in Hempstead and on other dates in number of counties, according to a TxDOT spokesperson.
According to information provided Wednesday by the TxDOT Public Information Office, comments can be submitted at any time. The TxDot press release said, "First and foremost, TxDOT is encouraging anyone who has public comments on the Interstate 69/Trans-Texas Corridor study to submit those anytime. All comments are valuable to identifying the best transportation solution for the state. Any comment submitted today, tomorrow, or next month is considered equally with comments submitted during the last series of public meetings for the I-69/TTC study.
"TxDOT is required by the Federal Highway Administration to set a deadline for the submission of comments that come in directly as a result of the public meeting. However, comments can still be submitted and will be included and addressed in the final environmental impact statement.
"We understand from Rep. Glenn Hegar that there is some confusion among people in Waller County about the public comment period and we appreciate his bringing this to our attention.
"Public comments can be submitted through the website at www.keeptexasmoving.org; via mail at P.O. Box 14428, Austin, TX 78761; and toll-free at 866-554-6989."
Opposition to the proposed I-69 Trans Texas Corridor, which will divide Waller County in half and disrupt families, properties and the quality of life is gaining momentum.
For more than two months, the Citizens for a Better Waller County group has been addressing the issue and its impact on the community. Evidence of the group's support became more visible on Aug. 24 when more than 500 persons attended the group's meeting at the Waller County Annex in Hempstead, forcing the meeting to be held outside on the grounds.
The purpose of the meeting was to inform the community of the proposed corridor, to muster support for the petition against the corridor and to get citizens to send comments to TxDOT.
The CABWC's effort did not go unnoticed by county officials, who were at the meeting to address the capacity crowd.
Attending the meeting were Commissioners William Eplen and Milton Whiting, along with County Judge Owen Ralston, who all expressed their opposition to the proposed project.
CBWC will hold meetings at 7 p.m. today, Thursday, Sept. 1, and Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Hempstead High School Auditorium. Anyone wanting to learn about the Trans Texas Corridor can attend and can also volunteer to help in the opposition.
Gubernatorial candidate and state Comptroller Carol Keeton Strayhorn and other officials are scheduled to speak at a special rally at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, at the Hempstead High School football stadium.
Waller County and several surrounding counties are in the Texas Study Area for the proposed 1-69/Trans-Texas Corridor.
The I-69/TTC will extend from Texarkana, Texas and southwest of Shreveport, La. to Laredo and the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
Planners say the TTC, the largest engineering project ever proposed for Texas, will allow for much faster and safer transportation of people and goods and will relieve congested roadways.
It will keep hazardous materials out of populated areas and will reduce emmissions and provide a safer, more reliable utility transmission system.
The plans call for a network of corridors up to 1,200 feet wide. The corridor will include separate tollways for passenger vehicles and trucks and includes six rail lines (three in each direction) with two tracks for high speed passenger rail, two for community rail and two for freight. The third component will be a protected network of safe and reliable utility lines for water, petroleum, natural gas, electricity and data.
According to information provided by Citizens for a Better Waller County, the corridor will take about 146 acres of land for every mile of corridor and the state will use "eminent domain to acquire the property."
Information provided by CBWC says the proposed corridor is different from the interstate system of highways. The group said, "The right of way for the TTC will be like putting three interstate roads with right of ways side by side. The TTC will have limited on and off access ramps, only at US Highways and interstates. County roads and farm to market roads will not have access. unpaved roads will be abonded.
It will be designed for long distance traveling and will not be intended to address local traffic needs. It will intentionally bypass urban areas. Motels, gasoline stations and other concessions will be built and operated by the private tollroad operator within the corridor. Motorists will be discouraged from leaving the corridor because they will have to pay a new toll."
The CBWC asks what will the I-69 link do to Waller County? and says, "It will run 35 miles north to south, fracturing the county in two. It will take more than 5,000 acres away from private property owners and put it in the state's hands. It will remove 5,000 acres from county and school tax rolls. It will expose Waller County residents to increased pollution and to hazardous cargoes."
The CBWC in its bi-weekly meeting on August 25 heard comments from the membership and a few persons attending the meetings for the first time. Municipal Judge Rich Carrier, a resident of Hempstead, informed the audience of his participation in the effort to stop the corridor also. He informed them on his meetings with Wharton County officials and what is being done there in opposition of the project.
Attorney Sylvia Cedillo, chair of the group's legal committee, shared a copy of a resolution adopted by the Hempstead Independent School District voicing opposition also.
Carrier and other officials have contacted District 18 State Rep. Glenn Hegar and CBWC encourages citizens to contact Hegar at (800) 621-7980 or email to email@example.com.
Carrier said Wednesday Hegar is concerned about the situation and had asked for a meeting Wednesday afternoon with Carrier and CBWC President Marty Ogg.
Persons interested in working with the various CBWC committees - Research, Legal, Funding, Calendar, Newsletter and Education - can log onto the group's website at wallercountycitizens.org.
Comments should be sent to: Ed Pensock Jr., P.E., Director of Corridor Systems, Texas Department of Transportation, P. O. Box 14428, in Austin, Texas 78761.
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