Friday, December 28, 2007

“We need help. Victoria won’t be able to do it alone.”

Victoria leaders unhappy that I-69 may run in northern part of county

December 28, 2007

The Victoria Advocate
Copyright 2007

Northern Victoria County is the state’s preferred route for a proposed super highway called Interstate 69, and local officials are not pleased.

“I just don’t like it at all,” said County Commissioner Kevin Janak, whose precinct covers northwest Victoria County. “It’s practically the largest land grab in history since Interstate 10.”

Mayor Will Armstrong said he’ll be sending letters next week to industrial plant managers and city and county officials throughout the region urging them to oppose the northern route. A route south of Victoria is preferred because it would better serve traffic and cause less disruption, he said.

“We need help,” Armstrong said. “Victoria won’t be able to do it alone.”

That’s why his letter will encourage those with an interest in the project to attend public meetings sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation.

There will be a town hall meeting Jan. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Victoria Community Center and a public hearing on Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at The Victoria College Fine Arts Auditorium.

“It’s really important that people comment,” said District Engineer Lonnie Gregorcyk with the transportation department’s Yoakum District. “Things can change.”

The northern route is listed in the state’s environmental impact study as the preferred route because it can weave through the countryside with the least impact, Gregorcyk said.

Both routes would cross the Guadalupe River, but more floodplain would be affected on the south route. “North of town is the highest, driest piece of dirt,” he said.

The route would cross U.S. 87 roughly eight to 10 miles north of the Rio Grande-Main Street intersection in Victoria.

Armstrong said that route would be costly because of the right of way the state would have to purchase. Victoria is growing in that direction and the highway could divide the city, he said.

The south route would better serve the industrial plants and the ports in Victoria and Calhoun counties, he said. It could also use the existing U.S. 59 right of way, reducing the amount of land the state would have buy.

Janak said there’s no reason for the state to take land from the owners in north Victoria County when the U.S. 59 route is available.

“Grandparents have done without so they could pass property on to their children’s children,”he said. “Now for the state to take it away is dead wrong.”

Building a new highway north of Victoria could pull truck traffic off existing routes. That could devastate truck stop and motel owners who made investments on the current highways, Janak said.

“Instead of buying these people out, they’re going to go and take land away from other families,” he said. “So they’re going to be hurting two groups of people.”

To see a graphic/document: Map of preferred route [PDF]

David Tewes is a reporter for the Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6515 or

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