Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Injunction Filed to Stop Illegal Toll way

Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas (AQUA) and People for Efficient Transportation (PET) are moving to round two.

Today, AQUA and PET filed an injunction in federal court to hault the state action converting US 281 into an unwanted toll way.
This injunction is the next logical step following a lawsuit filed by AGUA and PET on December 1, 2005 that asserts that an Environmental Impact Statement should have been prepared for the expansion of highways over the recharge zone. In the meantime, TxDOT has been clearing trees and vegetation from the right of way.
Not long ago both groups filed for an environmental impact analysis to be done, but the state and the courts are both dragging their feet. Annalisa Peace says that people are already hearing and seeing the problems with the Tran-Texas Corridor.
“People are already experiencing increased traffic noise levels in their neighborhoods due to the loss of trees in the proposed right of way.” said Annalisa Peace, Vice President of AGUA. “Unless we stop this project soon, irreparable damage will be done to this sensitive area and its residences and businesses.” Documents filed by the Texas Department of Transportation show that residences will experience noise levels from the toll road in excess of federal health standards. At these levels, traffic noise is more than a nuisance, it causes hearing impairment, sleep disturbance, cardiovascular and physiological effects, and mental health effects. Not surprisingly, residential property values plummet.

Unlike most injunctions, AQUA and PET sees actual viable solutions to this problem, and want some time to see an environmental impact study and talk through a better plan.
“TxDOT already has a lower cost and less damaging plan than what they are building, “said Bill Barker, local transportation consultant, “and there are other options that would probably be even cheaper and quicker to build while in the long term helping to preserve the residential character and natural assets of the Hill Country. It doesn’t make sense that a massive, 16-lane toll road is the only feasible alternative.”

"The US 281 project is totally funded by taxpayer dollars, and the charging of an unnecessary toll by TxDOT will only hurt local businesses and residents who have invested in the corridor. This is double taxation and taxation without representation.” said Sal Costello, founder of People for Efficient Transportation Inc. “It is time for people to stand up to the special interests who will profit from these tolls.”


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