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Stories Added - February 10, 2008 - February 17, 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
I-69/TTC hearing draws 150 attendees, most opposed
Polk County Enterprise - February 2008
LIVINGSTON — The Texas Department of Transportation saw one of its smallest crowds yet in a hearing over the proposed Interstate 69/Trans-Texas Corridor (I-69/TTC) project, which drew 150 people to Livingston High School Feb. 6.
Seven people spoke against the project during the public comment portion of the meeting, all suggesting the agency take the “no action” option during the Tier One environmental study on the project.
The Tier 1 study now underway only seeks to identify an overall route for the I-69/TTC highway which spans from Texarkana in the northeast to Laredo on the Mexican border.
The recommended preferred corridor currently shows TTC/I-69 moving south from the Lufkin-Nacogdoches area and branching off near Corrigan with the main route moving west down U.S. 287 to Groveton and a secondary route continuing down the existing U.S. 59 route to Houston.
The main lanes of I-69/TTC will include separate lanes for passenger vehicles, freight truck traffic as well as freight rail and passenger trains.
Objections raised at the Livingstin hearing centered around private property rights and destruction of environmentally sensitive timber and wildlife habitat.
Livingston Realtor Beth Hancock said she has seen eminent domain proceedings that equal or fall far below market value for the property owner.
“You can protest the offer, but its a lengthy and expensive procedure,” Hancock said. “While the process is under way, they will bulldoze your house.”
Livingston resident Rita Bloodworth added her concern that the proposal would make Livingston a virtual ghost town. “The (U.S. 59) Bypass changed Livingston forever. Businesses left downtown and moved out to the bypass. But the mom and pop businesses won’t be able to relocate on the Trans-Texas Corridor and the bypass will be little more than a pigtrail.”
Carol Parrish told TxDOT officials that her family has engaged in timber and ranching efforts on their property for four generations.
“We have been involved in a lot of litigation to hold on to what we have,” Parrish said.
Parrish also questioned the choice of the route that takes in East Texas forests “instead of West Texas where there is nothing.”
TxDOT officials noted that local governments would not be asked to fund any of the right-of-way or construction costs. Although it will be built in phases, the TTC plan calls for up to 10 highway lanes, including six dedicated to passenger vehicles and four for trucks; six rail lines; and a corridor to carry utility lines.
Written comments can be submitted to TxDOT until March 19. Comments can be made online at www.keeptexasmoving.com or by mail to I-69/TTC, P.O. Box 14428, Austin, Texas 78761.