New Snook Highway Stirs Up Controversy

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SNOOK, Texas A woman in Snook says a planned section of FM 60 will run over several Live Oak trees estimated to be around 200 to 300 years old.

Regina McCrudy says her family has owned a patch of land in Snook of FM 60 for nearly 100 years. The Texas Department of Transportation wants to buy about six acres of her land to build the new highway. McCrudy said she's not upset about selling the land, but about the trees that will be cut down.

"Not everything is replaceable. Most importantly, these trees," said McCrudy. "You can't go in and replace these."

McCrudy said the department could move the highway over a few feet and save all of the trees.

Bob Colwell with TxDot said it's not that easy.

"If we could save the trees, we would," said Colwell.

Colwell said the highway will be too big, and simply moving it over a few feet wouldn't solve the problem.

TxDot has hired Board Certified Master Arborist Jeff Lehde to help oversee the project.

"To make sure the trees that we have to cut, that they will be taken down properly. And that the trees that we're going to save will be protected," said Colwell.

Colwell said of the ten trees, they will only need to cut down four.

"Two of them will be off the right of way, so they'll be unaffected. There's four trees that we were going to put a retaining wall or guardrail fence around to protect those, and then there's four trees that we have to remove," said Colwell.

McCrudy said even one tree is too many.

"Not everything is replaceable. Most importantly, the trees here. You can't go in and replace these," said McCrudy.

One of the trees on McCrudy's property was added to the Texas A&M Forest Service Big Tree Registry. It's one of the trees that will be preserved.

McCrudy has until the Spring of this year to sell her land. After that, TxDot officials will seek eminent domain status.

The $10.5 million highway project is expected to start in the Spring, and finish up in the Summer of 2016.