"Following a request from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison..."
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March 25, 2008
By MATTHEW STOFF
The Nacodoches Daily Sentinel
Following a request from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, The Texas Department of Transportation announced Monday a 30-day extension on the deadline to submit public comments about the controversial Trans Texas Corridor project.
Gabriela Garcia, TxDOT's public information officer, said by telephone that the public will have until April 18 to send the state agency comments about the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the massive document that outlines possible routes for the proposed 10-lane superhighway.
"We were wanting to make sure that the public had more opportunity to comment on the document, and we also had received a request from Senator Hutchison to do so," Garcia said.
Sen. Hutchison spoke against the TTC last week in Nacogdoches and told an audience that she had requested a 45-day extension for public comments.
"I am very much against the concept of the Trans-Texas Corridor," Hutchison said.
Substantive comments on the DEIS, will be addressed when TxDOT releases the Final Environmental Impact Statement, which will be evaluated by the Federal Highway Administration later this year. Release of the FEIS may be delayed if there are a large number of additional comments, Garcia said.
The Federal Highway Administration will decide which plan — including the use of existing highways like U.S. Hwy 59 — TxDOT should pursue, or it may rule that TxDOT should halt the project completely.
TxDOT officials say they have received more than 14,000 comments on the DEIS. More than 700 Nacogdoches-area citizens attended a public hearing at The Fredonia in February, mostly to voice their opposition to the highway project on a variety of grounds.
Garcia said that the public has already had months to comment, but that the additional time can still yield helpful feedback.
"Any time there is more public involvement in any process, the more we're going to get back," Garcia said.
Comments on the draft environmental impact statement may be submitted online at http://ttc.keeptexasmoving.com/comments_questions/comments_i69.aspx or by mail to I-69. TTC P.O. Box 14228 Austin, TX, 78761.
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