Monday, February 25, 2008

"I can't believe the present governor is doing this and there'll be a revolt if it goes through."

Residents raise questions about I-69, Trans Texas Corridor

Public meeting held in Kingsville

Georgia Wingate Thompson
The Kingsville Journal
Copyright 2008

Texas Department of Transportation officials said that about 70 people showed up at this area's public hearing on the Tier One draft of an environmental impact for the long awaited Interstate 69.

Prior to the public hearing people attending the event at the King Ranch Museum were able to view numerous large maps, fact sheets and discuss issues with TxDOT officials before viewing a video. There were also numerous handouts available for participants to take home and digest at their leisure.

People learned that plans are no longer just for I-69, but includes a Trans Texas Corridor (TTC), which is a 4,000 mile multi-modal transportation system with specific lanes for cars, trucks, freight and passenger rail lines and space for future utility use to improve international, interstate and intrastate movement of people, travel and goods.

According to maps provided by TxDOT, the recommended preferred corridor for the I-69/TTC is not down U.S. Highway 77 or U.S. Highway 281 as had been rumored and envisioned by many, but rather a new route that would skirt Corpus Christi and closely follow the path of Highway 44 west, coming closer the cities of Alice and Freer and ending in Laredo.

Maps showed that much of the land surrounding U.S. 77 and portions of U.S. 281 is owned by the King Ranch and has National Historic Register designation, which precludes development of the full I-69/TTC concept. Improvements to these roads would have to be confined to existing rights of way.

U.S. 77 and U.S. 281 are being considered as routes to be upgraded and if the Federal Highway Administration approves the Tier One study they will also be studied in the upcoming Tier Two final environmental impact statement narrowing the study area.

Area residents expressed concerns about long-term rumors regarding the possibility of I-69 running down U.S. 77 and how it would affect wildlife, estuaries, Riviera and Ricardo, while others wanted to know if the highway were a done deal and all stated the need for more information on the project.

But a major concern was how the project would be funded. According to the information provided by TxDOT there will be a contract, called a comprehensive development agreement, which allows the state to hire a private firm to plan, design, construct, finance, maintain and operate the I-69/TTC.

"Why the money from a foreign country to fund this when we should use good ol' USA dollars," Hoot Gibson said. "Keep it in the United States. Why send everything overseas? Call me an isolationist, but that is what I am."

Judy Chandler of Riviera said that like Hoot she'd rather see the money remain in the United States than in Spain.

"Why can't the state fund this?" Stanley Woefel said. "It dang sure ought to be profitable for the state to do this and this is not good for a foreign country to do this. I can't believe the present governor is doing this and there'll be a revolt if it goes through."

This was one of 46 public hearings across the study region. The remaining public hearings in this general area will be conducted Feb. 21, Alice, Alice High School Auditorium; Freer, Feb. 20, Freer Civic Center and Refugio, Feb. 25, Refugio County Community Center. Information and maps may be accessed by visiting

Written comments must be received by March 18 in order to be included in the final environmental impact statement and should be mailed to 1-69/TTC, P.O. Box 14428, Austin, Texas 78761 or by going through the TTC Web site,

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