Saturday, February 02, 2008

Citizens for a Better Waller County request another hearing

Officials call for 2nd TTC meeting

February 2, 2008

Brenham Banner-Press
Copyright 2008

Waller County officials are calling for the Texas Department of Transportation to hold another public meeting in their county on a proposed “superhighway,” after a Jan. 22 meeting was so packed that some people couldn’t squeeze into the meeting hall.

TxDOT held a public meeting in Hempstead to gather public input on the Trans Texas Corridor’s proposed I-69 leg which could bring it through Waller and Austin counties, and small portion of Washington County.

More than 800 people surged into the Knights of Columbus Hall in Hempstead. Officials said the hall is located on a narrow, dead end road that was choked with vehicles that had no place to park.

Police were forced to block off access to Mack Washington Street, resulting in some attendees having to park and walk over a quarter mile. Many others went home, unable to find parking on the rain saturated shoulders of FM 1488.

Among those witnessing the crowded conditions was state Sen. Glenn Hegar, whose district includes Washington, Austin and Waller counties.

“I was coming back through Hempstead from Brenham that evening after attending a chamber banquet and I personally realized the overcrowding and the inability of citizens to attend the meeting at the KC Hall,” Hegar said.

Hegar was among those calling on TxDOT to hold an additional “town hall” meeting, along with state Rep. John Zerwas and Waller County Judge Owen Ralston. They were urged to seek an additional hearing by Citizens for a Better Waller County.

All three officials submitted written requests to TxDOT.

In addition, officials also requested that one of the two environmental public meetings on the project scheduled for Feb. 27 be rescheduled to accommodate citizens who many not be able to attend either one.

Both are scheduled on the same day but in different locations.

Gov. Rick Perry first proposed the TTC six years ago. If completed as much as 50 years from now, it would roughly parallel interstate highways with up to a quarter-mile-wide stretch of toll roads, rail lines, pipelines and utility lines. Cost of the project has been estimated at approaching $200 billion, and at 4,000 miles or so it would be the biggest construction project ever in Texas.

Thousands of people have turned out for a series of public meetings, including a large crowd last Monday in Bellville.

The Texas Transportation Commission’s plan outlines 4,000 miles of superhighway corridors that crisscross the state. Four of those corridors have been identified as “priority corridors” to be constructed first, including the I-69 portion.

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