Public Opinion: TTC-35 is DOA in Navarro County
Trans-Texas Corridor not popular here
July 21, 2006
By Bob Belcher
Corsicana Daily Sun
If public opinion means anything, a Justice of the Peace would have pronounced the Trans-Texas Corridor project dead on arrival in Navarro County.
“A 184 billion dollar boondoggle” and “a bunch of baloney” were just two of the opinions shared at Thursday’s public hearing held in Corsicana.
About 200 people attended a public hearing Thursday at Drane Intermediate School’s auditorium, held by the Texas Department of Transportation as part of its requirements to get public input on the recommended route for the Trans-Texas Corridor project that would combine highway, rail and utility transportation from Mexico to Oklahoma.
What officials presented as the “preferred corridor” cuts a path across the western part of Navarro County, then runs north through Ellis County, looping east around Dallas and terminating near the Oklahoma border near Gainesville.
While some of those who spoke out against the project Thursday were not from Navarro County, everyone who did speak out was opposed to construction of the highway project, which could be as much as a quarter-mile wide and disrupt existing roads, farms and homesteads.
Proponents of the corridor say that even expanding existing roadways won’t accommodate the increase in highway and rail traffic that Texas is expected to see over the next 50 years, necessitating the construction of the super highway. The project calls for separate highways for passenger cars and trucks, rail lines for both freight and passenger service, and a right-of-way for utility use, which could include pipelines, electric transmission lines and communications.
Those opposed to the Trans-Texas Corridor at Thursday’s public hearing spoke out against what they called “back room politics” and economic impact on the agricultural landscape of western Navarro County.
“This project offers no economic development opportunities for us,” Navarro County commissioner John Paul Ross said. “The commissioner’s court voted to oppose this project in 2005 and we are still opposed to it.”
“The corridor would stop economic development,” added Navarro County judge Alan Bristol.
Navarro County resident Rick Saunders told TxDOT officials that the slide show they presented prior to the public comment was lacking in several areas.
“What it failed to show us were the families and businesses that will be displaced by the project, or the homesteads that have been in some families for a hundred years,” Saunders said.
“It will affect a lot of families and farmers,” Carlos Gonzalez of Corsicana said. “Some of these people, farming is all that they know.”
Many of the comments about the proposed corridor were directed toward a Spanish company, Cintra Zachry, and its involvement in the development of the corridor project. Cintra Zachry is partnering with TxDOT for the initial design, construction and financing of the Trans-Texas Corridor. TxDOT maintains that there will be no foreign ownership of land or improvements, saying that the company’s role will be to “finance, design, build, maintain, operate and collect a portion of tolls for a period of time,” according to information provided at the hearing.
“Who thinks that a Spanish company is going to come here to make a donation?” local attorney Glenn Sodd asked. “This is all a bunch of baloney. When you put that sign up with that blue line on it, you just lowered the value of property,” Sodd said of the map displayed with the proposed corridor shown in blue.
The Corsicana public hearing was one of 54 being held across the state. Public comments on the proposed corridor project can be filed through Aug. 21. The proposal then goes to the Federal Highway Administration for their review.
Should the project gain federal approval, environmental studies on a final, detailed route for the highway will begin, possibly as soon as late 2006, according to TxDOT officials.
Bob Belcher may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2006 Corsicana Daily Sun: