Project to widen road could claim land

HOUSTON Some know about the plan and some don't. It is still in its developmental stage, but already some in the area are worried about what it could ultimately become.

Right now the stretch of Texas Parkway, also known as FM 2234 or McHard Road, is just two lanes -- one in each direction. The Texas Department of Transportation has plans to widen the six mile stretch of road to double its size, creating two lanes in each direction from Cartright to FM 521.

"To reduce congestion," explained Karen Othon with TxDOT. "Right now it's a heavily travelled roadway, and also to increase safety."

That would require 40 acres of land, displacing several homes and businesses.

Barber shop owner Rosalind Davis said, "That may just wipe this center out completely."

Davis just opened her barber shop on McHard two years ago. She hadn't heard a thing about the project. After learning about the facts as they stand now. She worries about her future.

"That'll put me out of business," she said.

There are also edges of several subdivisions backing up to McHard. Folks have lived here for years.

"We just remodeled," said homeowner Manuel Anguino. "I wouldn't want them to take it."

Anguino says he's willing to sell some of his backyard to the state. He sees expansion of the road as a good thing which could reduce traffic congestion on this busy road. But he worries about the traffic which could come barreling through into his yard, striking his young children. He says he'd only agree to road widening if it includes some sort of wall that keeps drivers from off his property if they lose control.

"We'll work with them as long as they put a wall up," Anguino said. "Otherwise, we don't want nothing to do with it."

There's a big public hearing on this expansion project Wednesday, March 24 at Willowridge High School at 16301 Chimney Rock. An open house is scheduled from 6-7pm, followed by a formal hearing at 7pm and then a public comment period. TxDOT will have people there to talk about land acquisition procedures and the benefits and programs available for displaced property owners.

The project is expected to cost about $28 million. Right now, funding is an issue.

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