Tuesday, October 7, 2014

No Toll

I have a growing concern about the integrity of this Texas Turnpike Corporation and head mouthpiece Neal Barker, who I swear is the doppelganger of Andrew McCarthy from Pretty in Pink.


When I met him at the Garland Tea Party meeting last month, he was keen to meet with anyone who wanted to go over the toll road so he could allay any fears.  However actions speak louder than words, and those enthusiastic welcomes do not seem to be the case.

I am growing concerned because I am hearing of secretive activity taking place and homeowners being lied to about it. At the Garland Tea Party meeting, one gentleman whose property will be directly affected by the proposed route, and let us not have any notion that a route has not been secretly proposed and supported by this group, asked Mr. Barker why there were surveyors on the selected land, and Mr. Barker said to his knowledge, nobody was out there doing anything.  I believe that was a lie.  Unfortunately for Mr. Barker, there were several eye-witnesses as well as markers left where they were surveying.  So tell me Mr. Barker McCarthy, why would anyone, even if it wasn't your employer, be spending money to send employees into the fields of an area that was allegedly not finalized yet?

So too, I'm concerned because these 'small meetings' have not taken place as promised and Mr. Barker seems quite apprehensive, if not unwilling, to meet up. Oh he shows up for the large meetings and all as those are an unavoidable irritant, but what about a small get-together with the actual homeowners in the area we all know the route is planned for?  That hasn't happened.

Interesting enough, since I've written to Mr. Barker several times he has yet to confirm anything concrete, rather providing ambiguous details of when he might be in Wylie next.  Our meeting today was to be fit in between other meetings in Wylie which were recently canceled.  Do you think I received the common courtesy of an email stating he would have to reschedule? Not on your life.

Could it be that the Texas Turnpike Corporation is actually resistant to meet one on one with those who oppose the action because it might be an all too painful reminder of the tragedy they intend to force upon Wylie landowners as well as the landowners of other communities?

Equest is a prime example. Sadly, their property is to be bisected in Wylie and the new land they just purchased in Dallas County has three proposed routes skewering it according to the map.  What about those handicapped people and veterans Equest serves? The work they do on that property is amazing and without any compunction whatsoever, the route has been planned to plow right through the area, rip-roaring trucks and all.

Photo courtesy of Equest

Oh, and Mr. Barker is wrong when he claims there has been a lot of information spread about this since its inception.  Meetings and information were focused on Greenville to Lavon by way of Highway 78 initially, because that was to be the first phase to be completed.  For Mr. Barker to state publicly that a lot of information has been out there and then verbally slap Equest for not knowing about it, is an outright lie.  The Equest land was never part of those initial proposed plans for it to go through the railroad right of way along Highway 78.
However very recently, the feasibility study shifted the location.  Yes, recently, and from the maps I looked at over the past two years, I would venture to say last spring as the feasibility study was expanded to include a whole lot of land around Wylie, and then narrowed again and pushed southeast to what we see today.

I would also venture to guess the shift occurred as Public Werks/Texas Turnpike Corporation was met with opposition by Mayor Eric Hogue of Wylie and Mayor Mike Felix of Sachse as well as Collin County Commissioner Cheryl Williams who did not want an abundance of trucks being dumped onto Highway 78, causing a traffic nightmare and offering no tangible benefit to either Wylie or Sachse. Plus there is that nasty business of a potential land grab by the toll road group at reduced prices and the rush to be grandfathered in for eminent domain.

As opposition grew, the Blacklands Corridor Feasibility Study area narrowed and moved further and further southeast and into the ETJ (extra territorial jurisdiction) areas the communities being touched by this.  I suppose conveniently they felt nobody would complain about some rural land being taken, but little did they know that Equest had just purchased a massive track of land for their Worldwide Headquarters.

Now, the proposed route looks nothing at all like that original route first proposed two years ago. From all the hullabaloo, it is clear that nobody wants the dastardly thing. Nobody.  The City of Rockwall has voted against it and this minutes link is a must read for a lot of additional information. City of Lavon has voted against it though their EDC was in support of it previously.  The City of Wylie has voted unanimously against it last night, saying no to building a toll road through both the City and the ETJ.

We are reminded that we need our commissioners on board with this fight as well and to be honest, this is one of the few times I have appreciated the stance our Collin County Commissioner Cheryl Williams has taken on any issue.  She was against it even as far back as early 2013.  Oh but if you are looking to the top leadership in Texas to help stop this, don't bother voting for Wendy Davis for Governor who has voted in support of tolling since she was first elected in 2009.

What is most astounding are claims by Mr. Barker that the Texas Turnpike Corporation did not put the pedal to the metal on getting grandfathered in prior to the change in Texas law on privately held toll roads.  Their articles of incorporation make for some interesting reading, particularly since Hunt county is  not even listed, nor are the Cities of Wylie, Lavon, Sachse or Rowlett for terminal points.  Make no mistake, within 3 days of the Act of May 27th, 1991, the Texas Turnpike Corporation hauled ass down to the court to file their articles of incorporation. Dirty, by any definition.

Their MOU Memorandum of Understanding provides additional details on their plans to mow over privately owned property as well as details on how they were grandfathered in.

Another issue at hand is that artificially inflated statistics are being touted by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, NCTXCOG.  Keep in mind that the NCTXCOG is not an official governmental entity, merely they are a group formed with Agenda 21 concepts of mass transit, biking to work, tolling the bejezus out of people to force them to use mass-transit to save that tranquil air quality, and pushing people to live in massively overpopulated urban high rises. Agenda 21ers want you to give up your land to the land fairies so you can share your wealth, land, and resources with the rest of the world in a sort of mystical Kumbaya dreamland of equality.  By the way, they want you to hand over your American Exceptionalism badge as well.

If I had to guess, I believe the Texas Turnpike Corporation is desperately attempting to look for routes to go around those areas that are complaining the most.  Imagine how bad they will look by skewering the beloved Equest.  I suspect this is one reason their recent meetings were 'postponed'.  They obviously are regrouping.  But make no mistake, by gosh, by golly, they seem to want to put that toll road through, no matter what.