May 17, 2007
Today we succeeded in amending the state transportation bill (SB 792) to protect historic South Texas ranches from being broken up or seized by eminent domain. SB 792 establishes a statewide moratorium on the development and operation of toll roads for two years. It would exempt certain projects in certain areas of the state and create a committee to study the policy implications of toll road transportation funding.
South Texas landowners will be protected from their property being condemned for proposed routes of the I-69 project. The Texas Department of Transportation has two built in routes along Highways 281 and 77. Buying rights of way and easement along the existing infrastructure just makes sense.
The amendment will ensure that if I-69 is built the portion that is South of the San Antonio River will be required to be built adjacent to existing highway corridors along State Highway 77 and State Highway 281. An alternative route that is not along the existing right of way would run through new, undeveloped land and divide many active farms and ranches.
Countless South Texans still live and work their family land. The state needs to respect property rights and not abuse eminent domain. Some of these historic farms and ranches have been in families for generations. They remain an important part of our collective cultural heritage.
The Monitor has more on our successful little amendment.