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Posts published in “Day: April 23, 2015”

TxDOT displays plans for widening FM 2100

NEWPORT – About 800 of the over 27,000 people living in the Crosby area attended an April 16 public meeting about the proposed widening of FM 2100 from FM 1960 to South Diamondhead Blvd.

The proposed is a $79.3 M. cost of construction to begin this Summer and last 3.5 years to make the current two opposing lanes into two travel lanes in both directions with a raised median and two five foot sidewalks on both sides throughout the eight miles in Crosby and Huffman School Districts.

According to Texas Department of Transportation, TXDoT, the proposed improvements would need 107 acres of additional right-of-way, including right of way for storm water detention pond construction. Six residences, eight commercial structures and two churches would be potentially be displaced as a result of the proposed project.

During the meetings many would make comments such as; “Why are they doing this?” “What took so long for them to get started?” and “I was told there was no way they were ever going to be able to widen this, what happened?”

A series of fatal accidents, planned development north of Humble, planned development near Mont Belvieu, planned development near the Baytown area, the coming of the Grand Parkway, plans for the Houston Ship Channel to become a significant port to service the Panama Canal begin to answer the first and third questions. The second has much to do with $79.3 M. while billions of roadway dollars construction is ongoing in the west side of the county. Although oil prices took a slide, demand for homes has not abated.

Another factor is that local Republicans have heard the call from business throughout Texas for better ways to get where business and employees need to go.

“I have been working for over a year with TxDOT toward solutions for FM 2100 and have had conversations with the H-GAC to move the project higher on its priority list,” Representative Wayne Smith said. “I am very proud of the support and participation by Commissioner Morman as that support has been monumental to help us move forward on this shared goal for the benefit of our local community and citizens.”

TXDoT says, “The purpose of the proposed project is to reduce congestion and enhance safety by accomodating traffic volmes, which are expected to increase by approximately 57% on this section of FM 2100 in the next 20 years. The project would increase capacity on main lanes and enhance mobility to accomodate local and regional population growth, and decrease the risk of crashes caused by cross-over traffic.”

TXDoT is still taking comments until April 30 and will post them on their website. Write to them at TXDOT Houston Office, 7600 Washington Ave., Houston, Texas 77007 or e-mail hou-piowebmail@txdot.gov and the project website is http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/get-involved/about/hearings-meetings/houston/041615.html.

County Attorney appeals court rulings in Waste Pits Case

Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan today appealed trial court rulings in the case involving the contamination of the San Jacinto River.

County Attorney Ryan filed a Notice of Appeal in the case of Harris County and the State of Texas v. International Paper.

The case involves the contamination of the river by International Paper’s predecessor Champion Paper in the 1960s, when Champion’s Pasadena Mill disposed of dioxin-laced paper mill waste in pits dug on the river bank. The waste leaked into the river for more than four decades, where it has contaminated the water, the sediment and the fish.

The case was tried in October 2014, with a group of companies settling with Harris County and the State for $29.2 million before the jury returned its verdict.

The County is appealing on the grounds that the jury was not permitted to hear key evidence from experts and witnesses who live and work near the river. The trial court excluded reports from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Department of State Health Services about International Paper’s pollution of the San Jacinto River and endangerment of the people of Harris County with dioxin exposure. Harris County is also appealing the trial court’s instructions to the jury that took many of the factual issues out of the jury’s hands.

“Because of the numerous rulings at trial, Harris County did not get to present its case to the jury,” County Attorney Ryan said. “We respectfully disagree with those rulings, and will be appealing on behalf of the people of Harris County.”

Among other findings, the court ruled as a matter of law that once the waste was pumped into the pits, it was no longer Champion’s waste despite the fact that the company hired to dispose of the waste also disclaimed ownership of the waste as well. The court also held the jury could not hear evidence that Champion had done the same with another site in Texas.

“Under that theory, any polluter could escape punishment by giving waste away, and they would no longer be responsible for it,” Ryan said.

On April 6 the trial court overruled Harris County’s Motion for New Trial, clearing the way for the appeal.

Vince Ryan will ask the Harris County Commissioners Court to use the funds from the $29.2 million settlement for environmental projects that will benefit the people of Harris County who were most affected by the contamination.