Thursday, July 20, 2006

“This will pave over my ancestors' legacy.”

Area residents critical of TTC plan

Jul 20, 2006

Jeff Blackmon
Editor & Publisher
The Cameron Herald
Copyright 2006

It could be a long road trip for Texas Department of Transportation officials presenting plans to Texans about the Trans Texas Corridor toll project.

The TTC-35 promotional tour hit Cameron Tuesday night, with nearly 150 attending. Around 20 speakers spoke in the meeting, going on public record, and all but one of those speakers were not in favor of the ambitious project that could cut through thousands of acres of blackland farms.

“It's a bad idea,” Cynthia Miller, one of those speakers, said in the public hearing. “It will bury and destroy acres and acres of farmland.

“I'd like for us to look to the future and consider other options.”

The presentation before the hearing detailed the TTC-35 project, and how it would be constructed over a 50-year period of time. The project includes plenty of lanes for truck traffic and could even include a light rail system. There are also 13 alternate options to the project, including one option where the project would not be built. The project is billed as helping cut down on traffic fatalities and as a solution to thinning congested traffic on I-35.

Option 5 is the route TxDOT is recommending be taken for the toll road, which just misses Milam County but does go through Falls, Bastrop, Caldwell, McLennan and Bell counties.

TxDOT also detailed its Design Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) which has yet to be finalized. That could happen after all the public hearings held regarding TTC-35.

Concerned citizens also criticized the project's use of Cintra Zachry, a corporation out of Spain to build the project. Others voiced concern over losing valuable family land passed down from generation to generation.

“This will pave over my ancestors' legacy,” Cameron resident Emily Stanislaw said.

Others said they were concerned that EMS vehicles couldn't reach wrecks or fires in time once the corridor is built since exit ramps won't be available at every nearby town.

“It's a quandry for EMS workers,” Coleman Berry said.

Other statements were given concerning the environmental impact and ecosystem that will be trampled along with taking money away from small towns since the tollway will have its own gas stations and eateries and could prevent drivers from stopping in small towns.

The meeting was attended by plenty of area political figures including State Representative Dan Gattis, Pat Berryman with State Senator Steve Ogden's office as well as Democratic candidates Jim Stauber, Fred Head, Mary Beth Harrell and Diane Henson.

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