The Ellis County Press
ENNIS – Ellis County residents made their voices heard regarding the Trans-Texas Corridor during a public hearing Monday night at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Ennis.
Every resident who spoke regarding the multi-lane toll-booth super highway was extremely opposed to the corridor.
“We, the people, are the government. It’s time to take back the government and tell them what to do,” said Ennis resident Neil Keas.
“Not let them tell us what to do.”
Originally proposed by
Republican Gov. Rick Perry in 2001 the corridor would eventually include separate toll-lanes for cars, tractor trailers, freight train rails, commuter rails and utility lines from Mexico to Oklahoma.
Many citizens asked why the state did not hold any public hearings before now to determine the corridor’s path.
Bastrop County resident Linda Curtis was fighting the corridor through the “Route Rick’s Route” and Corridor Watch.org coalition.
Curtis said ballot referendums were written in such a way that no voter could understand what they were voting for and because of this, in 2001, voters got tricked into supporting this program.
“This is a very good example of a crooked government,” Pat Costelow of Ennis said.
“They are stealing from us.”
She said she doubted the state would pay a fair-market value price for peoples’ homes which lie in the corridor’s pathway.
An estimated 8,000 acres of family farms, private homes and agricultural land would be destroyed if the corridor is constructed on TxDOT’s proposed route, according to officials and residents.
Bardwell resident Gary Farmer said once these lands were lost, they were gone forever.
Farmers and other attendees said their property taxes would rise dramatically to make up for the tax revenue lost when the mega-toll road project comes through Ellis County.
Scott Morrow, TxDOT assistant engineer for Ellis County, said the recommended corridor was 10 miles wide and once the actual corridor was developed it would be a width of 1,200 feet.
“They don’t know where it will be in this corridor,” he said noting the actual roads could be located anywhere inside the proposed 10-mile stretch.
Morrow said the exact location of the corridor within this proposed area would not be determined until later after more studies were conducted to determine how to avoid cities, home subdivisions and bodies of water.
“You are not going to miss everything,” Morrow said.
“But you don’t want to build through an area with homes.”
State transportation officials said the corridor was needed to relieve Texas’ already congested roads and keep up with the state’s rapid growth.
India Acres resident Denne Sweeney said he does not understand why the state’s current highways could not be expanded to handle the additional traffic.
He said a Texas Department of Transportation official told him it would be too expensive to expand Interstates 35 and 45.
TxDOT’s proposed 600-mile corridor would run parallel to I-35 north from Laredo bypassing San Antonio, Austin and Waco before angling slightly eastward before passing the eastern border of Italy, Ennis’ western border and encircling Palmer.
It would bypass Ferris on the south, going eastward engulfing Trumbull, India, Walnut Springs and Bristol before heading north and curving westward into Oklahoma through either Gainesville or Sherman-Denison.
State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie said he was opposed to the current plan because it would destroy quality farming land, taxing entities would lose thousands acres in tax bases and without exit ramps traffic could not travel through a city’s business district.
The plan would also cut straight through some land Pitts owns between Italy and Ennis.
Hill and Ellis County officials, including Pitts, met to develop an alternative route which they said he hoped TxDOT would consider.
The alternative route would go around Hillsboro to the east and then straight up to Arlington going between I-35 and I-35 West. Once the route would hit State Highway 360 in Arlington it would verve off to each side going on the outside of Dallas and Fort Worth.
Environmental Manager Doug Booher with the Texas Turnpike Authority Division said the state transportation department was required to directly connect to state highways, United States highways and interstate highways.
He also said engineers would look at connecting major county and city roads to the corridor.
Ellis County Commissioner Dennis Robinson, pct. 1, said he was worried this corridor would split the county in two and would not provide an economic benefit to the county.
“If this has to come through Ellis County I hope it goes on an edge of Ellis County,” he said. Citizens have until Aug. 21 to send their comments to TTC-35 P.O. Box 14707 Austin, TX 78761-4707.
For more information on the project the state has developed a website visit www.keep
texasmoving.org or call 1-877-872-6789.