FHWA, TxDOT Reach New Deal to Fund Harbor Bridge

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WASHINGTON, February 3, 2017 | Elizabeth Peace (202.225.7742) | comments

Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) released a statement today in support of the new agreement between the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that complies with federal and state laws. Previously, the FHWA under President Obama had attempted to force TxDOT to pay relocation benefits to illegal aliens in violation of state and federal laws.

“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.”

Background:

In 2015, TxDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) entered into an agreement whereby TxDOT would implement several programs for residents of the Hillcrest neighborhood in Corpus Christi, Texas. Under the Acquisition Program, TxDOT will purchase eligible neighborhood properties whose owners wish to sell. Eligible residents of a purchased property (whether tenants, owners, or businesses) can then participate in the Relocation Program, under which they will receive financial assistance in relocating from the neighborhood. The terms of the programs fall under the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970.

FHWA attempted to force TxDOT to pay housing benefits and relocation costs for those in the country illegally, which is a violation of federal and state law.

Texas state law prohibits TxDOT from making relocation payments to undocumented aliens. Under the Texas Property Code (Title 4, Sec. 21.046), a state agency may pay relocation benefits no greater than what federal relocation law specifies. Federal law (8 U.S. Code § 1611) directs that payments of relocation benefits to undocumented aliens be prohibited.

In January, Congressman Farenthold worked with TxDOT and the Trump Transition Team to resolve the issue. On Feb. 3, under the Trump Administration, FHWA entered into a letter agreement that moves the project forward.

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