Friday, August 11, 2006

"The battle over that corridor is really a time-honored battle between those who have clout and those who don't.”

Super Highway Not So "Super" in East Bexar County


Lauren Jenkins
San Antonio

A proposed super-highway of the future is stirring up bad memories of Texas’ past highway plans. The Texas Department of Transportation is traveling across the state, pushing for support of the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor. The corridor, a toll road, would run somewhere East of San Antonio and would be the first of its kind in the United States.

Thursday night, hundreds of rural Bexar County residents showed up to a public meeting on the TTC to fight the state’s plan to take their land; the very land they use to make a living.

“That's what most people out here do, they work and then they come home and take care of the livestock,” says Linda Green.

Green’s family owns 17 acres in Bexar County and is one of the many families opposed to the potential path of the corridor.

Green attended the meeting tonight and says she can’t help but notice the contrast between the working-class families speaking out against the corridor and the chamber of commerce-types who support it.

“We’re perceived as not having a lot of wealth over here, or political clout,” says Green.

That perception comes by no accident, according to Trinity University urban studies expert, Char Miller.

"All highways, whether they're old interstates or the Trans-Texas Corridor, go through cheap ground or what they conceive as cheap ground,” Miller tells News 4 WOAI. “[That] means those who live on that property tend to get bulldozed out of the way."

San Antonio’s history is rich with examples of just that. Most of the city’s interstates were built right through poor, inner city neighborhoods. The TTC is no different; half of those who live in the Corridor’s study area are minorities and 25% live in poverty.

"What we're seeing playing out in the battle over that corridor is really a time-honored battle between those who have clout and those who don't” says Miller.

Unlike the urban highways, built in the 1950s, the whole purpose of the TTC is to draw traffic away from the cities and into the countryside.

Something people in East Bexar County, like the Greens, do not want.

"We don't want it over here,” she says. “And we just feel like nobody's listening to us."

TX-DOT says the purpose of the meetings, a total of 54 in all, is to give everyone an equal voice. (The process is required by law.)