Toll Roads Will Be Burden

RECEIVED Wed., June 21, 2006

Dear Editor,
   Kimberly Reeves’ article on 290 West highway planning through Oak Hill "‘Y’ Can’t We Be Friends?" [News, June 16] did a fine job of presenting the context of highway planning. We appreciate the Chronicle’s work in showing the complexity of decision-making and the breakthrough recently achieved by Fix290 as we chose collaboration over confrontation in our approach to TxDOT and the CAMPO Board.
   As an insider in Fix290 (chair and spokesperson for the coalition), I see only two omissions that need mention. First is the absence of any reference to the highway’s impact on the Edwards Aquifer. In contrast to the 12-lane highway proposed by TxDOT, the Fix290 concept offers a smaller footprint that will not only reduce the impact on the aquifer, but will also be cheaper and faster to build. Fix290 wants to leave Williamson Creek intact while TxDOT plans to widen and channelize it, in effect turning a natural stream into a grass-filled ditch. Indeed, the issue of environmental damage caused by an over-built highway deserves an article in itself.
   Second is the absence of any mention of the strong support the Fix290 Coalition has received from toll road opponents. One of our sponsoring organizations is Texans Against Tolls, a dedicated group of community activists who do not deserve to be labeled as "hate-mongers." Those who work with Fix290 are motivated by a passion for social justice and a conviction that the Phase Two Toll Roads are not financially viable and will prove to be a long-term public burden.
   Fix290 is gratified by the cordial response from the CAMPO Board after our presentation on June 12. We see doors opening and a real possibility that we may in fact "be friends" as we work toward better solutions for transportation, neighborhoods, and the environment.
Carol Cespedes
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