Farmers Protest Perry Plan

5-4-05 - AUSTIN (AP) - Rural landowners carried a protest to the State Capitol against Governor Rick Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor.

Farmers and ranchers say the huge highway project will gobble thousands of acres of their property only to make money for private toll road companies.

Republican Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn - one of Perry's potential GOP primary opponents in 2006 - joined in, calling Perry's associates "land-grabbing highway henchmen." She said Perry and the Texas Department of Transportation want to cram toll roads down Texans' throats.

Noting that this year marks the 169th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto in the fight for Texas independence, Strayhorn said, quote, "Thank goodness Sam Houston and his army didn't have to stop and pay tolls on the way to the battle."

A spokesman for Perry said the governor understands the concerns of rural residents. That's why, he said, Perry asked that the Trans-Texas Corridor law include a provision allowing land owners whose property is taken for roads to receive fair market value or another negotiated amount, which could be paid over months or years, depending on the revenue generated by the road.