TxDOT assurances about TTC-69: "Lip service to get people off their backs."
Stick to existing routes, Victoria residents tell TxDOT
April 1, 2006
The message Victoria-area residents had for state highway officials Friday was this: If you build the Trans-Texas Corridor/I-69 through this area, make sure the new roadway follows the route of existing highways.
"They're not making any more wildlands or pasture lands," said Victoria County rancher Bob McCan, to applause.
An estimated 100 attended the meeting at the Victoria County Archives Building to bring together Texas Department of Transportation officials with citizens from Victoria, Jackson and Goliad counties for discussions on the proposed new superhighway.
City Council Member Bill Russell said the Victoria City Council is unanimous on the question of using roadways already in place.
"We would prefer expansion of the existing (highway) routes," Russell said.
Jackson County Commissioner Larry Deyton was another who endorsed the idea of sticking to the current highway routes.
He said TxDOT should stay along Highway 59 "to avoid taking citizens' lands."
Victoria businessman Milton Greeson encouraged TxDOT officials to overlay the new roadway on existing routes "to avoid further land fragmentation and detrimental impacts to our natural resources."
Texas Transportation Commissioner John Johnson said he believed the proposed new transportation corridor would indeed stick to existing routes - because doing so would cut the cost of development.
"I have a high sense of confidence that a lot of this corridor will go over existing developed (highway) facilities," Johnson said.
The possible routes for the new corridor are still being studied. It will take at least another five years to pick the final routes and begin land acquisitions, highway officials said.
Maps distributed at Friday's meeting showed proposed routes for the corridor following U.S. 59, as well as U.S. 77 south of Victoria.
But the maps also showed gray swaths running parallel to 59 and 77 that are also being considered as possible routes for the corridor.
It was those proposed routes that residents spoke out against.
"It's giving us all a lot of angst to see maps with routes moving off existing (highway) corridors," rancher McCan said.
A woman in the crowd called out: "I'm going to lose my home if this (corridor) goes where the gray area is."
Charles Clapsaddle, a Goliad County landowner whose property lies in the middle of a proposed possible corridor route off Highway 59, said he was "skeptical" about TxDot's assurances that existing highway routes are being considered as paths for the new corridor.
"It's lip service to get people off their backs," Clapsaddle said.
The Trans-Texas Corridor is a proposed multi-use, statewide network of transportation routes that will include highways, railways and utility rights of way.
It is proposed to be combined in the Victoria area with a leg of I-69, a proposed trade route between Mexico and Canada.
• Greg Bowen is a reporter for the Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6519 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this story at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.
© 2006 The Victoria Advocate: