Highway project puts business at risk of closing
Rollie Burr’s business, Burr’s Barbecue, was in business for 10 years on Interstate 10 westbound near Doty Road in Vidor before construction started on the roadway.
Now his restaurant is out of business.
“The construction just really destroyed the business,” Burr said. “It took over five years to complete. The feeder road was changed to one-way traffic and people had to drive all the way to (FM) 1442 to turn around.
“They (the Texas Department of Transportation) did not keep us informed. They were hardly no help. They’re not business-friendly.”
He added heavy equipment sometimes blocked the driveway to the restaurant.
Now a longtime business in Orange is facing a similar predicament.
Childs’ Manufacturing and Building Supply, at the intersection of Interstate 10 and 16th Street for the past 44 years will lose their lumber yard when the feeder road construction begins in the Spring of 2013 from Adams Bayou to the state line. The project is scheduled to be completed Spring 2016.
“It completely takes over half of my business and half of my revenue. Say, for instance, a customer needs a 2×4 and we can’t sell it because now we’re just a hardware store. We’ll be Childs’ Building Supplies, what will we have left?” Owner Brad Childs said.
Another concern is a customer can buy their lumber in another store in town, possibly purchase an expensive item such as a power tool, and Childs would miss the sale.
The feeder road when built will carry all the way through the present intersection. There will be a crossing at the railroad tracks on Bob Hall Road.
Childs said he’s for the project and he is just looking to be compensated to relocate intact.
“I’m pro Orange and pro Orange County. But I’d hate to see a 44 year old business close,” he said.
Childs attended an open forum hosted by TxDOT on Jan. 17 at the Orange Public Library Auditorium. They told him they would only pay for the lumber yard and only partially compensate him.
“I’ve poured my life savings into this place. They (TxDOT) say their rights are to pay a partial acquisition for the remainder of the business,” Childs said.
Burr said his experience dealing with TxDOT was the state didn’t compensate businesses anymore affected by highway construction projects.
“It was a bad deal all the way around. We lost thousands of dollars. They also deflated the amount of the property,” Burr said. “We lost money getting out of it. Attorneys told us they didn’t know if it was worth the fight. We just bit the bullet and moved on.”
Childs said he’s still negotiating with TxDOT and reiterated he really wants the project for Orange.
“I don’t want to have to go to court. Back in the old days, you could do things with a hand shake and get it done,” he said.
Marc Shepherd, public information officer with the Beaumont district office of TxDOT, said the Interstate project should improve business and not lead to a loss of it. Those businesses that are affected may have their properties purchased at fair market value.
He added negotiations and the courts determine the outcome for fair market value rates.
“They have to show TxDOT there was a reasonable difficulty (in doing business). There’s lots of recourses geared for the land owner. But we have a stringent process in purchasing,” he said.