FM 756 expansion project will displace multiple Smith County residents

TxDOT says project is necessary to improve safety and mobility
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Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 6:49 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2021 at 7:43 PM CDT
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SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - Plans to expand an East Texas road are moving forward, with environmental clearance expected this fall.

The plan is to expand FM 756 in Smith County from Jeff Davis Drive southward to FM 344. According to TxDOT’s Draft Environmental Assessment, the purpose of the project is to improve mobility and safety. But those efforts come at a price to the people who live on and near the road. As it stands, the proposed project will result in 30 residential and three commercial displacements, and two “other” displacements.

Map from TxDOT showing the road expansion project.
Map from TxDOT showing the road expansion project.(Blake Holland/KLTV)

“This house has a lot of memories in it,” said Robin Enneking, one of the residents who will be displaced. She said she’s lived in her house for almost 10 years, and it’s also home to her 86-year-old mother.

“This was my first property that I’ve purchased on my own as a single person,” Enneking said. “And with my limited income and everything just feels like it’s going to be very hard for me to find something this nice.”

Her search for another home comes as a result of eminent domain: the government’s right to take private property for public use while compensating the property owner. In this case, it’s the expansion of FM 756, which TxDOT says is necessary to improve safety and mobility.

“Previously I was under the understanding that they might negotiate the right of way,” Enneking said. “So that didn’t impact my property at all. But now, I was surprised to find out when I researched on my own I pulled it up on the computer and I didn’t have any notice before that it was actually going to take the southwest corner of my property, which is just basically six feet of my garage and my driveway.”

An interactive map from TxDOT shows a deviation from the original road near Robin’s house, something considered necessary to straighten out a dangerous curve. The map shows only a corner of Robin’s house is actually impacted, but TxDOT must take the entire house.

“And I’ve since learned that they can only pay you for what they use or what they’re going to take and your entire house,” Enneking said.

With right of way acquisition scheduled for this winter, Enneking is forced to make big decisions very soon.

“And right now there’s no place for me to go. I mean, apparently there’s not very many houses similar to this one in my price range,” she said.

And while Robin doesn’t believe anything she says will actually change the project plans, she’s asking for empathy.

“How would they feel if it was their home being taken over for six feet of their garage and demolished, and just bulldozed down? How would they feel, you know, think of all the memories there, kids being there and their families. It’s just, just heartbreaking.”

In addition to payment, TxDOT also provides landowners with relocation assistance.

No official word on when construction will actually begin. We’ve requested an interview with TxDOT about the project.

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