April 13, 2005
Grand Parkway update

Anne brings news of the latest development in the quest to build an extension to the Grand Parkway in Spring, whether the residents there want it or not.

Homes in north Harris County could soon be up for sale without their owners consent. That's because the properties may be in the path of the expanded Grand Parkway, Houston's proposed super loop.


"They're ruining the whole landscape of Spring," said Sheryl Badoni, homeowner.

Badoni fears the potential path of the Grand Parkway will take what has been home to her family for seven years. "They're supposed to take our whole property, come right though our house and right through our property," she said.

Badoni and several of her neighbors are upset about the letters from the Harris County Toll Road Authority, requesting permission to survey their property.

"It says they want to conduct a survey for the acquisition of right-of-way and design of the Grand Parkway," Badoni said as she read part of the letter.

But the Grand Parkway Association said the final decision on where the road will go has not been made.

"If I can find a route that doesn't take anybody's home, that doesn't take any wetlands, that's the route I'm going to pick," said Robin Sterry, Grand Parkway Association. "I don't like having impacts if I can avoid them."

"I think we can't believe a word they say," said Badoni.

Badoni said she wouldn't be allowing any surveyors on her property.

The Grand Parkway Association said some subdivisions didn't exist when the project first started. And that's why many homeowners in those areas said they want the Grand Parkway moved a lot farther north, where there are fewer people to impact.

I heard a little about this last night at the Woodland Heights Civic Association meeting, where Robin Holzer of the Citizens' Transportation Coalition gave a presentation. My reaction would be the same as Sheryl Badoni's - I would not let the surveyors on my property. I wonder if the HCTRA can force you to allow it.

Anne also notes an earlier item, which brought up a bill by State Sen. (and HCTRA godfather) Jon Lindsay, which as noted here and here appears to be a way to avoid submitting the Grand Parkway to environmental impact review and public meeting requirements while still allowing the state to ultimately assume its debt. You almost have to admire the gall involved in that.

I should note that the WHCA became something like the 25th civic association to formally sign the CTC's resolution (PDF) on toll road accountability. The goal is a show of support for a couple of bills filed by Rep. Martha Wong (HB2496 and HB2497) which would at least put some limits on the HCTRA. The main issue that's still unaddressed (though HB2496 may get amended to deal with it) is that municipalities have no legal power (Word doc) to veto, alter, or slow down HCTRA projects - this is the first point in the CTC resolution that the WHCA endorsed last night. If you want to see that happen, contact the CTC or write to your elected officials and tell them so. You never know on whose door the next HCTRA surveyor may be knocking.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention earlier that the CTC will be at the City Council meeting next Tuesday, April 19, and they're looking for speakers and supporters to join them. See below the fold for more info.

CTC Folks and Supporters:

It is time to take our message to Houston City Hall on April 19th. Here is a quick summary of the basic details on how to sign up to speak before City Council and give forth our message that citizens deserve more of a voice in toll road projects.

Each Tuesday afternoon, any member of the public can speak before Houston City Council at the weekly "pop off" sessions. I encourage everyone who can to attend the Tuesday, April 19th pop off at 1:30pm. However, with a little coordination and preparation, we can make our voices stronger and better received.

- How to sign up to speak.

Everyone who would like to speak must call the City Secretary at 713 247-1840 to schedule your time at pop-off. She needs to know your name, address, telephone, topic, and number of minutes (1,2 or 3) you request. Please call this week (sooner the better).

Our goal is to be recognized as a group. To help get ourselves into one group, you will need to say "toll road accountability resolution" for your topic, please ask for 1 minute and say that you want to be grouped with others on the same topic (feel free to say this is part of the Citizens Transportation Coalition). I am working with a couple of City Council members to ensure that we will officially recognized by the Mayor. This will increase our notoriety. Note: if you ask for more than one minute, you will go farther down the line and probably not be with everyone else (first all of the 1 minute people speak, than all of the 2 minutes people, and so on).

I recommend that everyone who wants to speak to show up around 1:15pm. We may end up being the first group up, and we need to get our heads together before the session starts.

- What if I just want to attend, but not speak?

Great. The more people in the audience who supports the CTC position the better. While we only need 10 people to speak, having more folks in the audience to show solidarity will greatly add to our punch. We will provide CTC name badges to make sure we look organized and together.

Please drop me an e-mail if you signed up to speak or will attend in the audience.

- What is our message?

Our goal is to convince Mayor White and City Council to support our resolution pressing for toll road accountability and citizen input (i.e. the same resolution that neighborhoods are supporting). This will greatly help in getting legislators from the Houston area to support legislation in Austin.

Even a quick statement by an individual in front of City Council saying: "I am Jane from Timbergrove neighborhood, I deserve a voice, support the resolution, etc" would work well. CTC will put together talking points.

- Will we get press? CTC will put together and send out a press release the day before and call reporters.

Thanks for everyone who plans on participating. See you on the 19th.

Peter Tyler
Advocacy Chair
Citizens Transportation Coalition

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 13, 2005 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

"You never know on whose door the next HCTRA surveyor may be knocking."

There are still plenty of segments left to build in the Grand Parkway project:


And progress on it moves forward:

Posted by: Anne on April 13, 2005 1:43 PM

A good website about the opposition to the Grand Parkway, Segment F-2 in particular, can be found at http://mypeoplepc.com/members/chrisodonnell/unitedtosaveourspring/

Posted by: Connie O. on April 13, 2005 8:38 PM