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TxDOT Road Changes May Threaten Big Live Oak Tree In Rossville

Live Oak at HWY 476 and HWY 2504
Preston Alsept
Live Oak at HWY 476 and HWY 2504

At the intersection of state roads 2504 and 476 — southwest of Somerset — two lanes of 476 straddle a sprawling live oak tree. That’s perceived as a problem by the Texas Department of Transportation, according to spokesperson Laura Lopez.

“We have an intersection improvements project to widen the pavement and add a right turn lane at that intersection,” she said. “There is a tree that is there at the intersection. The plan was to remove the tree, as part of construction.”

Locals, like Irma Sanchez, caught wind of the development and after posting on Facebook, about 15 people showed up on Tuesday morning to tell TXDoT to put the brakes on the project.

“We met this morning at about 6:30. Between 8:30 and 9 the TXDoT vehicles began to show up,” Sanchez said.

TxDOT hadn’t brought any heavy equipment out to push over trees.

“It looks like they were just measuring things this morning,” she said.

Sanchez said the highway intersection is in the unincorporated community of Rossville, southwest of Somerset, and that the tree itself plays a function that’s larger than most inanimate objects do. She’s heard that emergency workers use the tree as a point of reference when heading to emergencies.

“It is definitely the landmark in Rossville,” she said. “They use it as a marker. ‘How far are you from the oak tree?’ It’s been out here forever.”

She said Rossville residents aren’t against change there. They just don’t want change in the form of cutting down the tree.

“We’re certainly not opposed to the turning lanes but there’s got to be a way around that oak tree. There’s land on either side. I’d like to know if they’ve spoken to landowners, about taking land, rather than knocking down this tree,” said Sanchez.

She said the protesters showed up on Tuesday morning to let TxDOT know the tree was important to the community, and to spread the word among locals about what was going on. Laura Lopez says TxDOT heard them loud and clear.

“Removal of the tree will not be happening at this time until we review other options,” Lopez said.

TxDOT says they have no specific timeline for a resolution.

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Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii