"Speakers criticized TxDOT for keeping the formal public comment period at 10 days, rather than the 60 days usually given for projects."
September 12, 2007
By Stephen Palkot
Fort Bend Herald
Southern Fort Bend County residents angry over the possibility of a toll road in their suburban backyards let their frustrations be known to County Commissioners Court on Tuesday.
Six people used the public comments portion of the regular weekly meeting to voice their opposition to a plan calling for Grand Parkway Segment C to be constructed as a toll road winding from Crabb River Road at U.S. 59 to Highway 288 in Brazoria County.
County Judge Bob Hebert noted at the start of the meeting that Grand Parkway is a state project, giving the Commissioners Court no power to decide on its alignment or funding structure.
Hebert, who in the past has cut off a speaker for discussing non-county matters, said by law the county would have to pay for a portion of the project's right-of-way, and thus he allowed the speakers to proceed.
Commenters identified themselves as residents of Canyon Gate, Bridlewood and Brazos Lakes Estates, and they raised issues including environmental concerns, noise and the loss of the "rural" atmosphere of their neighborhoods.
More than one speaker criticized the Texas Department of Transportation for keeping the formal public comment period at 10 days, rather than the 60 days usually given for projects.
Whether the Commissioners Court truly has no say in the road was debated by one speaker, who criticized what she saw as a 'hands-off' approach to the controversy by the court.
Hebert said he personally opposes the current proposal to construct the segment as a toll road, since the area surrounding the alignment contains little development.
The area will not produce enough traffic to generate revenue to pay for the highway as a toll road in the near future, contends Hebert.
Comments on the project must be made to TxDOT by 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13. Comments may be sent to Grand Parkway Association, Attn: Segment C Comments, 4544 Post Oak Place, #222, Houston TX 77027, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
At an Aug. 30 public hearing some 250 people turned out, and the vast majority of speakers voiced opposition to the idea.
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