Tuesday, January 06, 2009

“I would be cautious to believe anything at this point from TxDOT.”

Not everyone believes Trans Texas Corridor is really dead


By Kevin Reece
KHOU-TV (Houston)
Copyright 2008

WALLER COUNTY -- When we last visited Odis Styers at his Hempstead ranch he sounded resigned to the fact that his life -- and his land -- were about to change. “I hate to say it’s a snowball headed downhill that you can’t stop, but it kind of appears that way,” Styers said.

That speeding snowball was the Trans Texas Corridor. The plan was to build lanes four football fields wide for cars, trucks and trains. The two superhighways were to stretch north to south across Texas.

It was to be built with the help of a Spanish company who would collect tolls in Texas for 50 years.

It would have gone through Styers ranch. He and other opponents were very vocal during a series of public hearings last February. The controversy even made it to YouTube with a video about the proposed "land grab."

TXDOT yielded to that pressure Tuesday and announced it is backing away from the grand plan formed six years ago.

“The Trans Texas Corridor, as it was originally envisioned, is no more,” said TxDOT's Karen Othon.

TxDOT said the project is “clearly not the choice of Texans."

In Waller County, however, they’re not celebrating yet because TxDOT isn’t saying the project is officially dead. Instead, they are saying they now have a new vision for the Trans Texas Corridor.

“I would be cautious to believe anything at this point from TxDOT,” said Trey Duhon III, a community activist.

Duhon and others point out that TxDOT's new vision has only made some of the proposed highways smaller. In fact, we asked if the original proposed corridors are now off the table.

“I cannot say for sure. I cannot say for sure," said Othon. "We’re still in the development stages.”

Governor Rick Perry spoke to us from Iraq Tuesday. "Well, I think the issue at hand here is it will substantially scale down, and the terminology of Trans Texas Corridor will go away.”

“I would be cautiously optimistic," responded Duhon. "I don’t think it’s going to change anything that we’re doing in trying to protect private property rights.”

Property rights they fear may still be at risk by a smaller highway with a different name.

© 2009 KHOU-TV: www.khou.com

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