So Called Squatters Cause For Concern In Potter County

Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas
Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas

Megan Moore
NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - For months, Potter County residents have been flooding the sheriff's office talking about people living in vehicles under an area bridge.

The issue is mainly at US 287 over the Canadian River.

Sheriff Brian Thomas says he worries about something like a gas leak causing an explosion, which could put a hole in the bridge and in turn shut down traffic on that major thoroughfare.

He says the calls about this area came in as soon as he took office in January.  So, "when we found out there was someone living under the bridge, we started checking to see if there's anything we could do at least to get them out from under the bridge."

So, they started with the Texas Department of Transportation, who called the attorney general's office.

TxDOT Spokesman Paul Braun says, "we found out basically that's public land, so as an agency that does not have enforcement authority, there's nothing we can do."

In fact,there is nothing anyone can do.  Sheriff Thomas says, "there's nothing there. There's no law, there's no statute that says you can't live under a bridge, at least out in the county."

So now, the sheriff is turning to the legislature. He says, "I have drafted a letter to Senator Seliger to see if there's anything maybe he could do. We have a hard time believing this is the only bridge in Texas this could affect."

The legislature approved a bill to make the area a state park, but those plans are still at ground zero.

Sheriff Thomas hopes in the mean time between now and when it becomes a park, something can be done.