Resting In Peace

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 5:06pm

Texas DOT decides against plan to exhume graves that lay four inches into right-of-way.

With family around her at her family cemetery plot, Mary Garrett says a crushing weight is now off her shoulders.

"This has been a long ordeal for me," said Garrett.

After months of waiting and praying, she says the Texas Department of Transportation has made the right decision.

They won't force her to move her children's graves.

"I'm just so happy, ecstatic, just jumpin' for joy," said Garrett.

Since April, TxDOT has said Garrett's 10-year-old son Michael and 7-year-old daughter Constance, who drowned together in 1996, had to be exhumed and moved by just four inches.

Their graves are on state property and a planned I-35 expansion left no options.

Of the three counties the Waco TxDOT district covers, they said there were six cemeteries alongside I-35 they thought could pose a problem.

TxDOT says they designed the expansion to not bother any of them.

The difference at Temple Garden of Memories was the graves were already in the TxDOT right-of-way.

Since August the cemetery and TxDOT were at a standstill.

Garrett wouldn't give permission to move her children.

TxDOT said legal action against the cemetery was next.

After media coverage, TxDOT met with the cemetery's owners on a new plan.

The owners agreed.

As of last week, the new plan to protect Mary's children from upcoming expansion construction is to put a concrete cover on the 4-inches the graves encroach on the TxDOT right-of-way.

It will go down and around the caskets, giving plenty of protection against the heavy machinery digging in the area.

"Their engineers are confident that they can come up with a design that will work," said Jodi Wheatley with TxDOT.

TxDOT says it's glad it came to this.

"We regret that this has come up and we regret that it was a problem to begin with and that it's caused any distress to the family," said Wheatley.

For Mary, she says it gives her faith in the world.

"There's still some good people out there, with good hearts," said Garrett.

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