Thursday, January 24, 2008

"TxDOT is stuffing this down our throats and I don’t like it."

Over 400 attend TxDOT town hall meeting


By Kristin Edwards and Maegan McGowen
The Huntsville Item
Copyright 2008

More than 400 people from Walker County and surrounding counties attended the Texas Department of Transportation town hall meeting Wednesday night at the Walker Education Center.

According to Bob Colwell, TxDOT public information officer for the Bryan District, the Huntsville meeting was one of 11 town hall meetings scheduled throughout the I-69/Trans-Texas Corridor study area.

Colwell said 25 TxDOT representatives attended to answer questions.

“Tonight is the opportunity for people to ask any questions that they want,” Colwell said. “In the past, TxDOT has gotten knocked for not having open discussions, so that’s what we’re here for.”

After the town hall meeting started, TxDOT representatives announced that the meeting room had been filled to maximum capacity and a number of those left in the center’s atrium would not be able to participate.

For those who could not be seated in the main meeting, TxDOT representatives answered questions in the atrium.

Due to the overcrowding, Colwell said an additional town hall meeting will be planned for the Huntsville area.

“We really got kicked around, and I feel like they should have just canceled this one when they realized there were too many people,” said Rose Mathis, whose family was unable to attend the meeting. “Even if you got up to the door of the meeting, you couldn’t hear anything and you definitely couldn’t get in.”

Mathis said she and her family were neutral about the construction of the I-69/Trans-Texas Corridor and wanted to attend the meeting to gain more information.

“They should have had a bigger facility lined up, because we wanted to be able to hear about these developments and find out what’s going on so we can decide how we feel about it,” she said. “I feel like there’s a lot of work that needs to be done on the roads we already have that TxDOT isn’t doing, but what we’re really opposed to is that they’re not letting everyone hear this meeting tonight.”

Dee Patterson, who was also kept out of the meeting, said the entire meeting and its results were unfavorable.

“I think the meeting should be canceled and rescheduled,” Patterson said. “I’m definitely against the corridor because of higher taxes and because it affects everyone in Walker County and Texas.”

Several people in attendance at the meeting were opposed to the construction of the I-69/Trans-Texas Corridor.

Mark Holmes, a landowner from Grimes County, was distributing anti-TTC stickers at the entrance of the meeting.

“I found out they could take my 10 acres of land in 2004, and I’ve been in this fight ever since,” Holmes said. “This Trans-Texas Corridor is taking so much property, and if they would put it to a vote, it would be silently defeated.”

Inside the meeting, a petition against the construction of the Trans-Texas Corridor was available for people to sign.

“I’m a state property owner, and I’m here because TxDOT is stuffing this down our throats and I don’t like it,” said Pat Muse, one of the attendants who signed the petition. “This construction is not in the best interest of our state, and the people organizing it don’t seem to care.

“I wish we could put this to a vote in the state of Texas, because it would be a big time shut-down in any state.”

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