“If the comments are technical in nature, then they have to respond by law... Also state clearly that you are not in favor of the corridor."
March 15, 2008
By ALAN NIESCHWIETZ
Time is almost up for Texas residents who wish to submit a comment on the proposed Trans Texas Corridor, which must be received by the Texas Department of Transportation by Wednesday.
Submissions of comments would have to be made either by mail or online at this point, and can be sent to I-69/TTC, P.O. Box 14428, Austin, TX 78761, or go to keeptexasmoving.com, then click on “question or comment” on the left side of the screen.
Previously, throughout February and March, TxDOT held 47 well-attended hearings at which oral comments from the public were taken into account.
The TTC has been the subject of much controversy because it would involve the state using its eminent domain powers to take as much as 600,000 acres from private property holders to build the road and rail system, which is envisioned by proponents to be one quarter-mile wide and run from the Rio Grande all the way north to the state line.
The method of funding its construction, which would involve a foreign company putting up the funds in exchange for a 50-year lease on the corridor and the right to charge tolls on vehicles traveling on it has also been a subject of concern for many Texans.
The project is in what is being called the Tier One Phase, in which comments directed toward a Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) of the general proposed corridor route are being accepted for study.
Washington County has not been proposed as an area through which the corridor will pass, but TxDOT plans do have it passing through Waller County in the vicinity of Hempstead.
Bob Colwell, TxDOT’s Bryan district media contact, said “we encourage the citizens of Texas to please send us their comments on this. This is a way to continue to have your voice heard.”
He said that “any comment you want to make on the Trans Texas Corridor, whatever it is, will be accepted,” even something as basic and simple as “I hate the TTC will be accepted.”
Colwell said that after the comment period, TxDOT officials “will go through all of the comments and look at narrowing the proposed corridor, or possibly the no-build option.”
Corridor opponents such as Don Garret, president of Citizens for a Better Waller County, agree that it’s very important for people who feel strongly about this to make their voice heard. But Garret is of the opinion that general anti-corridor comments are going to get short shrift.
“They really don’t want to hear about how long you’ve occupied your land or other teary stories,” he said.
Instead, he recommends challenging the corridor by way of pointing out technical points in the DEIS, being sure to clearly say that you are not in favor of the corridor.
“If the comments are technical in nature, then they have to respond by law,” he said, which in addition to possibly having more weight with TxDOT, would be time consuming and drag the process out, hopefully taking some corridor proponents, zeal for the project away in the process.
The DEIS itself is several hundred pages long, but Garret said his organization has done a lot of work going through it, and developed a synopsis of the report and how to cite technical objections to it in comments to TxDOT.
Garret said that information is available on his Web site, wallercountycitizens.org.
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