DEMANDING ANSWERS: Property owners worried about Toll 49 expansion

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HENDERSON, Texas (KETK)- From New Chapel Hill to Tyler, East Texas residents attended a NET RMA meeting on Tuesday afternoon in Rusk County, hoping to hear answers for the expansion to Toll 49.

However, they were not given any information on where the project stands. With many people outraged about the orange and blue route options being proposed by Net RMA, they were hoping to clear the confusion during the meeting.

The board was not allowed to ask questions or comment on the presentations given because segment six was not on the agenda.

One by one, residents came to the podium to tell the board, “no to the blue and orange routes.”

Among those who spoke to the board was the President of UT Tyler, Dr. Michael Tidwell.

“So, if we’re going to be successful in ensuring the success of our students it will take a strong transportation infrastructure close to campus to make that happen,” said Dr. Tidwell during the board meeting.

During his presentation, Dr. Tidwell highlighted that out of the nearly 10,000 students who attend the university, a third of them come from Dallas and Houston.

He urged for the board to choose a route closer to campus, making it easier for potential students to come to the city.

Another topic discussed was the environmental issues that could affect those near Lake Tyler, prompted by a group of local residents who created the KEEP LOOP OFF LAKE campaign.

“Building in Flood zones is very serious because people who become victims of a flooding incident, they lose it all unless they have flood insurance,” explains Ronnie Warren, a homeowner in Tyler.

Analysis provided by the KEEP LOOP OFF LAKE organization, comparing the six proposed routes.

Warren attended the meeting to discuss his concerns with the two routes possibly running through areas with water, worried about what this could mean when there is heavy rainfall.

While many of those that presented wanted their opportunity to talk with the Board, they just hope members were listening.

“Think of it as a cake, that’s baking in the oven and it’s not done yet, so we don’t have something to present to the board,” says Elizabeth Story when asked why the topic wasn’t an agenda item.

Story is part of the consulting group over the expansion project and says without saying anything, having the board listen means just as much.

“There is someone who likes each route, there is someone who doesn’t like each route. It’s not a vote, but we absolutely want to hear people’s interest,” explains Story.

NET RMA will continue to work and narrow down the six proposed route to three by the end of this year.

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