Department is moving along full speed ahead
for 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28
in Cedar Hill Organized by Citizens’ Coalitions –
Debra Medina, Other Candidates to Speak
Despite TXDOT’s announcement last year that the Trans Texas Corridor Project was dead, the department is moving along full speed ahead with its plans for the Southeast Loop 9 Project, identified as a feeder road for the TTC.
The Loop 9 Toll Road Project will cut a 16-lane-wide path through Southern Dallas and Northern Ellis counties. This road is one of several projects identified for development by TXDOT by Cintra Zachry, a Spanish-owned company.
More than 1,200 families stand to lose their homes and property if TXDOT officials have their way. Despite TXDOT claims that the toll road project is to provide an “outer” loop around the southern boundary of the D/FW Metroplex, the current alternatives will plow through neighborhoods in Cedar Hill, Glen Heights, Lancaster and Midlothian.
City leaders in all these communities are in support of the project despite the pleas from citizens who stand to lose everything.
The southeast Loop 9 Citizens’ Coalition is comprised of several grassroots community groups whose members believe there are low-cost alternatives to the current Loop 9 alignments that could meet regional transportation needs while preserving the homes, property and financial security of more than 1,000 North Texas families.
The Citizens’ Coalition hosted its first town hall meeting in April 2009. The meeting included representatives from TXDOT, NTCOG, and elected officials from Dallas County and the affected cities. More than 1,000 local citizens attended. Of those in attendance, only 2 indicated that they were in favor of the Loop 9 Project as currently planned.
For the Sunday February 28 event, this time the meeting will focus on updating citizens on what the coalition has done since last April to try and make changes to the current plan, telling them what they can do to join the fight to save their homes, and hearing from candidates for State elected offices who support the group’s position.
Just like the April 2009 event, this Loop 9 Update Town Hall meeting is being organized and paid for by local citizen members of the community groups.
Republican primary candidate for Governor Debra Medina will be the keynote speaker.
Medina has made her position in support of the private property rights of Texas citizens a cornerstone of her campaign. Medina will share the stage with Republican primary candidate for State Senate District 22, Darren Yancey, and Republican primary candidate for State Senate District 2, Sharon Russell.
Both candidates have come out against the Southeast Loop 9 Project in their campaign communications.
Mannix Smith, leader of the Lancaster-based citizens’ group explained, “Our members have been active in communicating with local and state officials, as well as TXDOT and the Texas Transportation Commission members to convince them that other options should be considered before the state spends more than $4 Billion on just 35 miles of roadway. The cost of the planned toll road has ballooned from an estimate of $1 Billion in 2003 to now over $4 Billion according to the TXDOT website.
“Even those citizens not directly affected by this out-dated ill-conceived road project should find these cost estimates unacceptable. The Southeast Loop 9 Toll Road Project is a shining example of why the Legislature’s Sunset Commission recommended the “death penalty” for TXDOT in 2008.
“Despite recent comments by local TXDOT officials that the road is unfunded and does not pose any immediate threat to homes, the department is finalizing the environmental study that will lead to a Record of Decision by the Federal Highway Administration. TXDOT has targeted this action for later this year.
If TXDOT receives the Record of Decision, the route is set in stone and we will face the loss of our homes, our way of life and our financial security. TXDOT representatives told us last fall that they hoped to be acquiring property by the end of 2010.
“This threat to our homes is real and it is now. Many homeowners have already found it impossible to sell their property with the road project looming. And those that do find buyers are selling at a loss. TXDOT has told us in a written response to our questions that they will only offer current market value for property seized for this road.
This will leave hundreds of families upside down in mortgages for homes that have dropped as much as 25% in value since 2007.
“We want our citizens to understand that the demise of TTC did not put an end to the threat to their homes, and that there is still time to make changes to the Loop 9 Plan. If anything is worth fighting for, it is the place you and your family call “Home,” and we are simply not willing to give up.
We will continue to pursue our strategy to make our voices heard, to elect individuals to local and state offices who will champion our cause, and to fight this injustice even in court if we are forced.
Citizens from all affected communities are invited to attend. Community organizers have been distributing flyers, posting signs and sending emails to get the word out to all those who will be adversely affected by the proposed road.
WHO: Debra Medina, Republican Primary candidate for Governor
Darren Yancy, Republican Primary candidate for State Senate District 22
Sharon Russell, Republican Primary candidate for State Senate District 2
WHAT: Town Hall Meeting to update citizens on the status of the Loop 9 Project and to hear from candidates who oppose the current plan.
Enlarged maps showing the proposed Southeast Loop 9 alignments from Midlothian to Seagoville and indicating what properties are in jeopardy will be on display for citizens to view.
Lunch will be available for a donation to the Southeast Loop 9 Citizens’ Coalition.
WHERE: Noble Champions Sport Horses Arena, 1302 S. Duncanville Road, Cedar Hill, TX 75104 (Northeast corner of Duncanville Road and Bear Creek Road)
WHEN: 2:00 p.m., Sunday, February 28, 2010
In addition to the candidates, a citizens’ coalition spokesperson will give an update on the status of TXDOT’s plans for Loop 9, will describe the coalition’s case for studying other options, will report on what the coalition members have done since the April 2009 meeting to make their voices heard and will advise what the groups have planned to continue the fight.
A citizens’ question and answer session will conclude the meeting. Citizen questions and comments will more than likely be passionate and intense as these folks are fighting for their homes, financial security and safety.
WHY: Citizens in the communities in south Dallas County and north Ellis County have come together through grassroots organizing to motivate local and state officials to look at alternatives for the Southeast Loop 9 Project before moving ahead with final approvals. They first appealed to their city governments in 2005 through 2008. The majority of mayors and council members in the affected communities are not supportive of efforts to move the road out of neighborhoods because they view the road as a “golden goose” of property and sales taxes. Efforts to intercede with TXDOT that has planned this road with the usual MO of very little public notice or input have met with statements by department officials that they have not authority to look at alternatives. Addressing their position seeking low-cost, less-destructive options with county and state officials revealed that many view the road as an economic engine but seem to be unaware or unconcerned about the high cost of the current road and its devastating impact on literally thousands of families in Dallas and Ellis Counties.
After giving up on ever getting any help or support from city leaders, the coalition has pursued a strategy over the course of the last year to appeal directly to state elected officials and the Texas Transportation Commissioners to seek help. With no help forthcoming, the groups are hoping to effect change through the electoral process.
James Adams, Mannix Smith and Janie Haga are all members of the Southeast Loop 9 Citizens’ Coalition Leadership Council. All of them have homes that will be adversely affected by the proposed Loop 9 route.
Email address for contacts:
James Adams: email@example.com
Mannix Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org
Janie Haga: email@example.com
The citizens coalition has a website. The address of the website is: www.loop9info.com.