"TxDOT has failed to comply with the federal law and federal implementing regulations."
Related Link: Texas 391 Commission Alliance
May 22, 2008
North Texas E-news
Holland, Texas –The Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission (ECTSRPC) has unanimously approved the first formal demand that development of the Trans-Texas Corridor -35 be stopped and corridor be restudied. On May 13, the ECTSRPC approved a 26-page formal demand that the Texas Department of Transportation conduct a supplemental environmental study.
The ECSTSRPC was formed under Chapter 391 of the Texas Local Government Code, which requires TXDOT and other state agencies "coordinate" their planning and projects with local planning commissions.
In releasing the demand, Mayor Mae Smith of Holland, president of the ECTSRPC, said; "Until we organized this Commission, TxDOT had not discussed with us the damage a 1,200-foot wide superhighway would have on our towns and school districts. During the meetings following our formation, TxDOT admitted they had not studied the local impacts resulting from geographically dividing our emergency services and school districts, disrupting school bus routes and adding utility costs to our citizens."
The formal demand sets forth issues critical to local citizens of the towns of Holland, Bartlett, Little River-Academy, and Rogers and their respective school districts. ECTSRPC member Ralph Snyder pointed out that the current study ignored the economic impact of destroying the highly productive farm ground known as the Blackland Prairie through which the corridor runs. He said, "The current corridor will ruin the rural economy of our area. TxDOT says it plans to study that impact later when they decide on a specific highway route, but that’s too late. No matter where the specific pavement is laid, the Prairie will be destroyed, so they need to study this impact now."
ECTSRPC Treasurer, Mayor Ronnie White of Little-River Academy, explained that the Commission believes "TxDOT should follow their own study and expand the existing Interstate 35 rather than pursue a superhighway that will take 146 acres of land for every mile of highway."
The formal demand points out how the corridor will force school districts to use scarce education funds for re-routing bus lines and dividing award-winning school districts, and how the limited-access superhighway will require at least a doubling of all emergency services – fire, police and medical – in order to serve both sides of the superhighway. ECTSRPC Secretary Arthur White, Mayor of Bartlett, said that the increased local costs " will result in loss of residents, loss of businesses and economic crisis that we may not survive."
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires TxDOT to engage in a thorough "hard look" analysis of the environmental and economic impacts of a proposed highway project like the TTC. The ECTSRPC’s demand alleges that TxDOT has failed to comply with the federal law and federal implementing regulations.
The ECTSRPC has been supported in its Chapter 391 coordination process by Stewards of the Range and American Land Foundation, both having offices in Texas. They are private property protection organizations involved in a national campaign to help local governments exercise their authority.
Stewards President, Fred Kelly Grant, complimented the ESTSRPC on its strong stand on the law, stating, "We believe the Commission makes a reasonable demand that TxDOT start now to prepare a supplemental draft environmental study that includes the economic and environmental harms which the proposed corridor will cause in rural Texas. It is possibly the only way to avoid major lawsuits that could hold up this project for years."
A copy of the Commission’s Formal Request can be found at: http://cts.vresp.com/c/?LibertyMatters/5feb35b5c5/d46d588bd4/2200a0a4ea
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