Congressman Blake Farenthold announced Friday that a new agreement had been made between the Texas Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration to move forward with the new Harbor Bridge Project in compliance with state and federal laws.
It was Jan. 25 when Farenthold said the FHWA was attempting to force TxDOT to pay relocation benefits to illegal immigrants who will be displaced by the new Harbor Bridge Project. An agreement between the FHWA and TxDOT back in 2015 allows TxDOT to purchase properties for Hillcrest residents who wish to sell. Tenants, owners and businesses would then be able to participate in the Relocation Program to receive federal assistance moving out of the neighborhood.
Farenthold said the Obama administration and FHWA were trying to make TxDOT pay those benefits not only to landlords who do not actually occupy their property, and therefore have no need to relocate, but also to illegal immigrants. He said that would be in violation of state and federal laws, but on Friday he said with the help of the Trump Transition Team, a new agreement was reached that complies with state and federal laws.
According to TxDOT, under the new agreement, eligible tenants in the Hillcrest neighborhood can decide on whether to participate in the relocation program as of July 1. Also, TxDOT and FHWA agreed that landlords will receive fair market value of their property and specific relocation benefits that include moving personal property and relocation advisory services.
"This is the kind of cooperation states should be seeing with the federal government," Congressman Farenthold said. "I'm happy to have worked with TxDOT and the new Administration to move this forward quickly. This agreement is not only compliant with federal and state laws, but gets the much-needed Harbor Bridge project back on track."
TxDOT said the new Harbor Bridge, when completed, will have the longest cable-stayed span of any bridge in the country. Its six lanes will cross 205 feet above the harbor, providing more than 60 feet of additional clearance above the existing bridge. Construction activities are underway and are scheduled for completion in 2021.