Proposed TxDOT Project Raises Concerns Among Residents
DONNA – A proposed route by the Texas Department of Transportation to make the highway a reality will cause people to possibly lose their homes or property.
On Thursday evening, the agency narrowed down their proposed path from three to one in a public meeting.
The planned highway will start near Expressway 83 or I-2 and Val Verde Road in Donna and connect north of Edinburg to 69-C, also known as US 281.
“They can offer whatever money they want to. It’ don’t make up for losing land to where you can’t make income on that land anymore,” says resident Josh Fike.
Josh and Daniel Fike say they aren’t giving up their land without a fight. They say they began fighting TxDOT’s SH68 plan since the beginning in 2014.
They tell CHANNEL 5 NEWS their 1800-acre land isn’t only home, it’s their livelihood. The property’s been in the family since the 40s.
The proposed highway will make things difficult, Daniel says.
“Out headquarters is going to be on the west side of it, and right east of it is going to be the highway and most of our land is on the east side of our headquarters,” he explains. “If they don’t give us an overpass, we are going to have to go half a mile or a mile in either direction before we can even get a tractor around.”
The Fike’s say it will also create a safety hazard for themselves and their employees. They tell us the two homes on their property will also be lost.
TxDOT Public Information Officer Octavio Saenz says as the Valley grows, so does the need for more roads.
“Registered vehicles in the state of Texas in this area are reaching way over 1 million,” he explains. “That’s not including the vehicles that come from Mexico. So congestion, traffic is going to be on the rise. It is on the rise.”
Saenz says SH 68 will provide an important exit from the Valley in case of emergencies. He says it will sit almost directly in the middle of US 281 and US 77.
He says the agency decided upon this route after four years of research.
Saenz adds unfortunately, 102 properties will have to be bought by TxDOT to make the project a reality.
“We get a private independent individual who assesses what the property is worth. Then from there we begin negotiations,” he says.
He says TxDOT can also help property owners find a new home after they purchase their land.
Saenz says if all goes according to plan, development of SH 68 will start in 2020.
The Fike’s say they will fight to keep their families land until the end.
TxDOT says the first phase of the project is estimated to cost $55 million.
Count on us to continue tracking the State Highway 68 project.