7 Oct 2009, 6:08pm
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Sometimes “no” really does mean “no”

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A few years ago,¬†then Texas¬†transportation czar¬†Ric Williamson shrugged¬†off¬†a citizen revolt against¬†grand plans to build cross-state¬†toll lanes and rail lines along¬†Interstate 35. At the time, tens of thousands of people were showing¬†up at dozens of public hearings to lash out at the planned Trans Texas Corridor’s I-35 leg.

Williamson, who was the¬†Texas Transportation Commission chairman,¬†said public hearings aren’t a vote but rather an effort to find out WHY people oppose or support a proposal and then to address those¬†concerns.

He said:

The purpose of public hearings is not to take a survey. It is not a matter of not having sympathy for those who will have their land lost. Somebody has got to do something about (Interstate) 35. Not 10 years from now and not 25 years from now but right now.

Well, today the Texas Department of Transportation said the best way to address those concerns is to do nothing, at least for now.

“Citizens all along the I-35 corridor did their civic duty by participating in public meetings and hearings, and by voicing their concerns,” TxDOT Director Amadeo Saenz said. “Now it‚Äôs our duty to respond to those concerns¬†— by¬†recommending the No Action Alternative for TTC-35.‚ÄĚ

Transportation Commission member Bill Meadows framed it much more bluntly to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

People don’t want it.¬†They said “Hell no.”

Meanwhile, something still has to be done, commission member Ted Houghton said.

But, he said,¬†“Our future efforts to identify potential solutions will be led by citizens.”

TxDOT will finish widening I-35 to six lanes from San Antonio to Hillsboro and also look to its I-35 Corridor Advisory Committee and four I-35 segment committees for guidance on what to do next. The corridor committee will report to the Transportation Commission on Oct. 29 in Fort Worth.


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