Public meeting about State Highway 68 set for Tuesday

Local News
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Plans to build a new highway through the mid-Valley have many rural residents concerned about losing their land. (CBS 4 News)

Plans to build a new highway through the mid-Valley have many rural residents concerned about losing their land.

Laurie and Enrique Ruiz have spent the past 30 years living in rural Edinburg. They’re concerned State Highway 68 could cut through the 10-acre property they own.

“This is our land. This is our home. We built the house ourselves. It was field of lettuce when we bought it,” said Laurie Ruiz, 56, a graphic designer. “We raised our son here and it was our thought that this would also be our retirement.”

The Ruiz family home is located near one of five proposed routes for the highway.

“All those things that we considered when we built our home are now all of a sudden in jeopardy because if this highway goes through, they’re going to be taking quite a bit of land from us,” said Enrique Ruiz, 60, an artist.

State Highway 68 would connect Expressway 83 near Donna to U.S. 281 in Edinburg. The new highway would reduce congestion on the Expressway 83/U.S. 281 interchange.

The Texas Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting about the project Tuesday night.

What: Public scoping meeting for State Highway 68
When: 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15
Where: Donna North High School cafeteria, 7250 N. Val Verde Road, Donna
Why: The Texas Department of Transportation is soliciting public input on State Highway 68.

From the Department of Transportation:

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will hold a Public Scoping Meeting for State Highway 68 (SH 68) to allow the public an opportunity to comment on the proposed project’s purpose and need, draft coordination plan and other relevant project information.
The purpose of the project is to improve north/south mobility, increase travel capacity for local and regional traffic and provide an alternate north-south evacuation route during emergency events. The project need is a lack of sufficient north/south mobility corridors for local and regional traffic and for additional emergency evacuation routes, which are the result of historical and continuing population and traffic growth in the region.
The public and anyone interested in the project are invited to attend the public meeting. The meeting will be in an open house format with no formal presentation, so attendees can come and go at their convenience. Attendees will have the opportunity to view project maps and schematics of the proposed alternatives, visit with team members, ask questions and share their comments on the project.
All comments must be received or postmarked by Thursday, April 14, 2016 for inclusion in the public meeting summary using one of the following methods:
Complete a written comment card or make a verbal comment to a court reporter at the meeting.
Submit your written comments via email or mail to TxDOT by March 14, 2016:
TxDOT Pharr District Office
SH 68 Project
600 W. IH-2
Pharr, TX 78577
The environmental review, consultation and other actions required by applicable federal environmental laws for this project are being, or have been, carried out by TxDOT pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 327 and a Memorandum of Understanding dated Dec. 16, 2014, and executed by FHWA and TxDOT.
Spanish-speaking team members and Spanish translation services will be available at the meeting to assist with translation needs. Persons with special communication and/or accommodation needs who are interested in attending the meeting are asked to contact the TxDOT Pharr District Office at (956) 702-6161, at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting.

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