Washington-Coles residents feel left out of buyout plan

Posted at 5:42 PM, Oct 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-03 18:42:19-04

CORPUS CHRISTI — Several properties on the North side of town were left out of the Hillcrest/Washington-Coles relocation program because they weren't eligible.

The program was put in place because of the new Harbor Bridge construction project. The buyout program was covered by a four-party agreement between the city, Port of Corpus Christi, TXDOT, and the Federal Highway Administration. While TXDOT says the FHWA set the boundaries, people in Washington-Coles want to know why they were left out.

Gwendolyn Coleman is all for building a new Harbor Bridge, but she's concerned about what all the pounding and added traffic is doing to her business.

“You don't have to finish the 3rd grade to know that you're disturbing the earth around here in a large way,” said Coleman.

Coleman has run the Unity Chapel Funeral Home in Washington-Coles for nearly 17 years. The Harbor Bridge construction site is roughly 300 feet away. Coleman says she was led to believe her business would be eligible for a buyout.

“The way we believed it was by the way it was titled,” said Coleman.

The title was ‘Hillcrest/Washington-Coles Relocation Program, but the buyout zone was more Hillcrest than Washington-Coles, even though Washington-Coles is much closer to construction. Coleman wants to know why her neighborhood was left out.

“Why weren't we given the same? That's all we're asking for,” said Coleman. Why didn't you give us some consideration?”

City and county leaders were also shocked when they learned about the oversight.

“It's horrible, I think they should have been included somewhere along the line,” said Nueces County Commissioner Carolyn Vaughn. “If they knew it was going to impact that community, then they should have included it.”

Vaughn represented Hillcrest and Washington-Coles on city council at the time. She's not sure why Washington-Coles wasn't included but sympathizes with the people there.

“They should not have to be right there in that vicinity with all that construction and have their homes shaking,” said Vaughn.

Vaughn says she's not sure what can be done, but she wants to work with the city, TXDOT, and the Port to find a solution for Washington-Coles.

KRIS 6 News contacted the FHWA to find out why most of Washington-Coles was left out of the buyout zone. A spokesperson said they're working on getting us an answer.