Tuesday, July 18, 2006

“It seems to me to be a heavy investment in a losing strategy.”

Frosty reception for proposed corridor

July 18, 2006

Herald-Banner Staff
Copyright 2006

GREENVILLE — Richard Shaw was just one of more than 250 people who attended Monday’s public hearing in Greenville regarding the Trans-Texas Corridor.

Shaw, who lives near Caddo Mills, was also among the 18 people who got up to speak during the session. And, like many of those who did offer public comments, Shaw said he was opposed to the superhighway project.

“Personally, if it comes within five miles of either direction of Caddo Mills, that’s too close,” Shaw said.

The hearing also brought out residents from Rockwall and Collin counties, as well as politicians and protesters who are staging a statewide challenge of the Trans-Texas Corridor.

Bobby Littlefield, area engineer with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Paris District, said he expected there to be opposition to the idea.

“It’s understandable, nobody wants something like this in their back yard,” Littlefield said, although he added the state’s rapidly growing population and need for transportation alternatives dictate something be done soon.

“It’s got to go somewhere,” Littlefield said. “If we’re going to build a relief route, something to relieve that Interstate 35 corridor, it has to go somewhere. We’re trying to select the path of least resistance. We’re trying to find areas where it will have the least impact on the majority of people.”

The current preferred route of the Corridor section referred to as TTC-35, stretching from Oklahoma to Mexico, passes through Caddo Mills and stretches westward across Rockwall County to Lake Lavon.

The majority of the route passes through Rockwall County, with Royse City sitting dead center.

The Trans-Texas Corridor would include separate lanes for passenger vehicles and large trucks, along with freight railways, high-speed commuter railways and infrastructure for utilities, covering a path up to 1,200 feet wide.

Most of those who did speak out Monday objected to the state’s contract with a Spanish company, Cintra, for the construction of the Corridor, or noted how the land obtained for the project would be leased back to the previous owners until such time as the highway would be built.

Others called for a statewide referendum vote on the issue, or feared the project would be a prime target for terrorists.

Mayor Tom Oliver read a letter of support on behalf of the City of Greenville for the Corridor, and encouraged state officials to find a way to provide rail connectivity to Majors Field Municipal Airport.

Lone Oak Mayor Harold Slemmons said he also backing the project.

“It is good idea that will help move a lot of traffic,” Slemmons said.

On the other hand, Guy Anderson, who lives near Merit, said he could not understand why the state was pursuing another highway project.

“It seems to me to be a heavy investment in a losing strategy,” Anderson said.

Representatives were on hand from two opposition groups, CorridorWatch and “Rout Rick’s Route”.

Following the meeting, Guy and June Walker of Royse City and Sue Westin of Farmersville spent time looking over the maps on the wall of the Civic Center which detailed the preferred path and said they did not like what they saw.

The Walkers said they hadn’t even heard about the session until the last minute and came away unimpressed.

Westin said she and her husband bought their property 14 years ago and two years ago hand built a home on the site, which also lies in the proposed path of the Corridor. Now, Westin said, they are faced with the possibility the state would purchase the land and lease it back to them.

“I’m not pleased with it at all,” Westin said. “That’s a crock.”

TxDOT officials at the meeting said the agency would be taking public comment about the project at additional public hearings, on the Internet or in writing, through August 21. A draft proposal is to be presented to the Federal Highway Administration by the end of this year, after which a more detailed plan would be created.

Additional information regarding TTC-35 is available on www.keeptexasmoving.org., or through www.corridorwatch.org.

© 2006 Rockwall County Herald Banner : www.heraldbanner.com