April 17, 2008

Waller Council forms group to fight TTC

By:Robin McDonald
Waller County News-Citizen
Copyright 2008

WALLER - Waller City Council passed a resolution approving the formation of a Waller County Sub-Regional Planning Commission as a tool to fight the Trans-Texas Corridor proposed Interstate 69.

The Texas Department of Transportation is presently working on the draft Environmental Impact Statement, which will provide information on how the TTC might affect Waller County, among other areas.

In February, the city came out in opposition to the encroachment of the TTC, through the city limits and extra-territorial jurisdiction.

According to the Citizens for a Better Waller County web site, the TTC-69 project is a high priority corridor for the Trans Texas Corridor. It is planned to be approximately 600 miles long, running from the Texas/Mexico border to northeast Texas, roughly following U.S. Highway 59. Waller and Grimes Counties are in the current study area.

With the WCSRPC, Waller can join with other municipality and county planning commissions to request that TxDOT disclose their environmental impact studies on the area. TxDOT is required by law to coordinate with Regional Planning Committees, and may not ignore them, in accordince with the authority granted in Chapter 391 of the Texas Local Government Code.

Members from the Citizens for a Better Waller County were present at the meeting, including President Don Garrett, Vice President Trey Duhon, and directors Bill Herman Michelle Sorenson.

Garrett spoke, and noted that Chapter 391 is a "very important piece of legislation" holding TxDOT accountable, while it attempts to push the corridor, in some cases over 1200 feet wide with few on and off ramps, through rural counties without scrutinizing the environmental impact.

"Having this committee empowers you," Garrett noted, "and they have to coordinate with you.

"This gives notice to TXDOT that if I-69 comes through Waller County, they are put on notice," Garret said, explaining if TXDOT were to ignore the requests of the commission, the city, along with other communities in the area, could file litigation against the Department of Transportation to ensure they comply with the law. Other surrounding counties have done this in the past, after TxDOT ignored their requests.

Council woman Nancy Arnold noted, "This shows that grassroots activities can make an impact."

Councilman Maurice Hart agreed, saying, "We need to have a voice in this. There are no people more qualified to determine what the needs and wants are in Waller County, than the people here in Waller County," he concluded.

Director Troy Duhon said, "it's imperative that we do this sooner rather than later," explaining that Governor Rick Perry, in his zeal to push the TTC through, may try to have a special session and try to change the law so that Chapter 391 no longer exists or wields power through grassroots organizations.

© 2008 Community Newspapers Online: www.hcnonline.com

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