Saturday, February 02, 2008

EPA could be an ally against TxDOT and Corridor backers

Corridor foes happy after EPA meeting

Related Link: Texas 391 Commission Alliance

February 2, 2008

Tammy Leytham
Temple Daily Telegram
Copyright 2008

HOLLAND - A group of Bell County elected officials said their voices were heard by the Environmental Protection Agency, which they believe gives them an ally in their fight to stop the Trans-Texas Corridor from cutting through their towns.

The officials are members of the Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission. They met this week with EPA representatives to discuss concerns with the Corridor’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

One potential route of the multi-lane corridor splits four municipalities and four school districts - Little River-Academy, Bartlett, Holland and Rogers.

After months of writing letters and talking with officials from the Texas Department of Transportation about their concerns, the officials finally believe they are being heard.

“We finished this meeting and they left. We all looked at each other and said, ‘we made our point and we are so pleased how they listened to us,’” said Holland Mayor Mae Smith, who serves as president of the commission.

The officials spent more than two hours expressing concerns. And, they made it clear, they are prepared to fight TxDOT in a legal battle if necessary.

Fred Kelly Grant, an attorney who serves as advisor to the commission, told the EPA representatives they should use their powers of persuasion with TxDOT, “so we don’t all end up in court.”

Grant is president of Stewards of the Range, a property rights group that is helping the commission take on TxDOT’s plans for a superhighway.

Mike Janskey of the EPA told members of the commission his agency’s primary responsibility is “reviewing and evaluating studies for every other federal agency.”

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