Save Barton Creek Association, Fix 290, Save Oak Hill, South Windmill Run Neighborhood Association, Clean Water Action, and resident landowners represent the plaintiffs in a new lawsuit filed against the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Capitol Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) in relation to the Oak Hill Parkway construction project planned at the “Y” in Oak Hill. Together, these groups have filed ‘Pro Se’, or without a lawyer.
The plaintiffs do not wish to stop this project altogether, instead they are urging TxDOT to improve the project and avoid both litigation and delays caused by construction. The planned excavation for the highway will encounter caves due to the project’s location on the karstic Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer, and this will cause project delays as well as environmental destruction. For years, the community in Oak Hill has requested a grade level parkway that would be quicker, less expensive, and less destructive to build than the proposed elevated and excavated highway project.
Fix 290 formed in 2006 as a coalition of several “associations, business, and concerned citizens” who opposed TxDOT’s plans for “an elevated tolled expressway through the heart of the Oak Hill community” and sought an alternative. This new lawsuit describes how Fix290 members consistently advocated for a ground level parkway since that time, which they say TxDOT never seriously considered.
Plaintiff Save Oak Hill “formed to gather data related to the natural, cultural, and historic resources in Oak Hill.” This organization documented the locations, species, and natural history of heritage trees in the area and commissioned a historic preservation survey to identify important community landmarks.
The suit lists several flaws with TxDOTs environmental review process. This is consistent with an analysis undertaken by a national expert lawyer that SBCA commissioned earlier this year. The attorney contended that TxDOT did not adequately account for significant alterations in the project plans, including the change from a toll road to non-toll road in their modeling and design.
Following the EIS issued in December 2018, TxDOT has continued to make changes to the project design, such as changing the number of lanes, flood risk modeling, and location of a shared-use path. “To say the Oak Hill Parkway has changed is an understatement,” says Carol Cespedes from Fix 290. To address their concerns, the groups seek a mandatory court supervised mediation and settlement with TxDOT for revisions to speed up the project and lessen impacts.
“We are asking TxDOT to sit down with us and work together to implement a project design that meets the needs of the Oak Hill community and protects our environment,” says Angela Richter, Executive Director of Save Barton Creek Association.