Will a six-lane Interstate 30 eventually get to Sulphur Springs?
What’s the status of state road work in Hopkins County?
These issues and more were discussed part of the Northeast Texas Rural Transportation Summit. Texas Department of Transportation staff from the Paris and Atlanta district offices gave presentations about updates on construction work in their areas. Noel Paramananthum, Paris District Engineer. Mike Anderson, Atlanta District Engineer, along with staff from their agencies, were at the summit.
First to speak was Dan Perry, Paris District director of planning, who focused on possible future expansion of I-30.
“I know it takes a long time for projects to get from planning to reality,” he said. “We’re midstream in much of this.”
He started with addressing some Dallas-area projects that will affect northeast Texas before moving up the I-30 corridor eastward. The big one, he was, was widening Interstate 635, the LBJ Freeway, from U.S. 75, the North Central Expressway, to Interstate 30 on the east side of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
He said the expansion would widen the freeway to five lanes in both directions plus create continuous frontage roads. He said it would help semi traffic go through Dallas more easily and to points in East and Northeast Texas. This project will start work next year.
The next project Perry discussed was frontage roads on Interstate 30 where it crosses Lake Ray Hubbard at Rockwall. He said this project was further out. Planning will be completed in 2020.
“After that it will take about a year to get utilities moved, and the project let,” Brown said.
Getting closer to Hopkins County, Perry then discussed Interstate 30 plans locally.
“Ultimately, the long-term solution is to discuss how to make this six-lane all the way through,” Perry said. “The medium-term is about pinch points at bridges and intersections to make that happen.”
He also said that long-term planning included raising the elevation of all bridge crossings to more than 18 feet.
He then transitioned to short-term projects, starting with FM 2642 in Royce City.
“That’s the first of those pinch points. We’re reconstructing that bridge to make it a little taller and a little wider so it can handle six lanes,” Perry said.
Next step is schematic planning from there east to FM 513 through Hunt County, Perry said. This planning is also fully funded, Perry said. After that, the next step would be taking bids for widening the interstate in Hunt County, along with replacing bridges as necessary.
Brown next got to Hopkins County. He mentioned two issues that have been sore spots with many local residents.
The biggest issue, he said, was the intersection of I-30 with State Highway 154, Broadway Street. He said TxDOT had heard complaints about rough bridge approaches. The other is the exits from I-30 at State Highway 19. He said that these projects had not yet gotten funding, but remained on the Paris District’s radar.
“Long-term, the issue is pushing six lanes all the way through Hopkins County,” Perry said.
Linda Harper Brown, a transportation consultant with Dean International, also addressed this in an earlier presentation. She said communities on the route needed a sustained focus.
"If is easy to be distracted by other issues. That is where a coalition like TEX-21, Transportation Excellence in the 21st Century, can help," she said.
Perry then discussed some non-interstate work in the district.
Perry promised more safety upgrades on State Highway 19 north of Sulphur Springs. He said bidding for left-turn lanes in Birthright would be opened in February, 2019. After that, he said TxDOT was looking at adding passing lanes on alternate sides of the highway all the way from Loop 301 to the Highway 24 intersection in Delta County.
In Lamar County, he said the big issue was the widening of U.S. 82 to both the east and the west of Paris. After that is upgrading U.S. 271 to the southeast of Paris.
“With all of this, Paris will be kind of unique in our area in having five four-lane corridors in and out,” Perry said. Because of this, he said TxDOT was looking at upgrades to Loop 286.
Finally, he said that improvements to State Highway 37 were the main project in Franklin County.
He said that a realignment of State Highway 276 in the Quinlan area was scheduled to be bid out in 2020. State Highway 24 in Commerce may have either an overpass or roundabout in downtown Commerce to ease traffic flow there.
Deanne Simmons, the Atlanta District planner, then gave updates on several projects in her district. She said the biggest one was that work on U.S. 259 near and at the Red River were almost done. After that, she said work on U.S. 271 near Mount Pleasant in Titus County was continuing. In the longer term, she said her district was looking at hiring a consultant for the highway north from Mount Pleasant to Titus County. She said that bridge replacements planning on the highway were being constructed to accommodate four-lane divided highway with a left-turn lane. She said the highway itself would be first upgraded to a “super two” with alternating passing lanes, with the ultimate goal being the wider five-lane.
She then covered plans for widening U.S. 82 in the corner of Northeast Texas, and widening it from four to six lanes inside Texarkana.
She finished by covering the Interstate 69 corridor in the Atlanta District, which is being identified as I-369 in the district. She said public response wants TxDOT to upgrade the existing U.S. 59 to an interstate and not build a new road.