Texas farmers and ranchers are hoping that the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) recent announcement to make use of existing roadways in its plan for Interstate 69 is a positive sign when it comes to the ongoing battles with the Trans-Texas Corridor.
“We are glad to see that TxDOT is beginning to listen to what so many members of our organization have said for the past four years,” said Kenneth Dierschke, president of the Texas Farm Bureau.
Some 28,000 Texans—many of whom are members of the state’s largest farm organization—aired grievances during public meetings held at various locations by TxDOT officials along the proposed highway path. Nearly all expressed some concerns over land lost to the multi-lane corridor, diminished access to their properties or property split by the project.
Farm Bureau has actively urged state officials to make use of existing rights-of-way whenever planning roadways to meet the transportation issues of a growing Texas. Despite those urgings, TxDOT plans for the controversial Trans-Texas Corridor have often called for all-new tollway constructions outside existing highway footprints.
On June 11, however, the agency officially announced it would make use of existing highway rights-of-way for the I-69 construction. Newly-constructed lanes will be tolled; however, existing lanes will remain free. Most of that project will follow the path of Highway 59.
“This is a great first step,” Dierschke said of Wednesday’s announcement. “But we must continue to hold TxDOT’s feet to the fire during the next legislative session to ensure they keep these promises.”
Dierschke noted that the proposed I-69 project is only part of the Trans-Texas Corridor plans that have been released by TxDOT. The agency’s announcement this week does not affect the project proposals along Interstate 35, which still has miles of some of the state’s best farm land under consideration as alternative stretches to the expansive highway project.
For more on TxDOT’s announcement and Trans-Texas Corridor plans, visit them online at www.keeptexasmoving.org.