Highway department moving forward with plans to widen SH 154 south
Barriers expected to cut down on number of crashes that occur when vehicles cross median
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

April 21, 2006 -- Hopkins County continues to be a focal point for transportation improvements, with more than $15 million in highway projects that are nearing completion and still others in various stages of planning.

A recent meeting between U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall and a number of residents along State Highway 154 south addressed the need to widen the road from Shooks Chapel to the Wood County line.

Earnest Teague, Texas Department of Transportation area engineer, said the start of construction is still some time away, and there are some problems to be overcome.

"The biggest problem we have with that project is we have at least 175 property owners, and we are buying right-of-way from all of them," he said. "The right-of-way map has been prepared and the contractor is still surveying individual parcels of land."

Teague said he anticipated the start of negotiations with property owners to come sometime late this year.

Work on an 18-month project to reconstruct State Highway 19 from Interstate 30 to Airport Road is on schedule.

In the near future, traffic will be re-routed from the current detour onto the newly finished traffic lanes. As traffic is again re-routed, work will begin on the construction of the northbound lanes of the highway, which, when complete, will include a center left turn lane and paved shoulders.

The intersections where Main Street and Houston Street cross State Highway 19 are also being redesigned and rebuilt and will incorporate new signal systems.

TxDoT will also be bringing some big city-type of signs along Interstate 30 around Sulphur Springs.

Teague said funding has been received for the placement of two permanent  dynamic message signs, one for each direction, that can carry information regarding accidents or lane closures, construction work, "or Amber Alert-type information," Teague said. 

The signs will not be used for any kind of promotional messages, Teague said.

Work to resurface Interstate 30 between Sulphur Springs and the Franklin County line also continues.

Contractors are making minor repairs to the concrete roadway on Interstate 30 before applying a new asphalt surface on the roadway.

Work also continues on rebuilding the I-30 frontage roads east of Sulphur Springs.

Another interstate project calls for the installation of a steel cable barrier separating the east and westbound lanes of the interstate. Not unlike a single-strand fence, the cable barrier should, according to TxDoT, prevent or cut down on the number of crashes resulting from a vehicle crossing the center median of the highway.

The barrier project is funded with money from safety bonds the state received.

"Our district is placing them through Hunt, Franklin and Hopkins counties," Teague said. "That will go to contract in June and work will start in mid-summer and will take as much as a year to complete."

Property appraisal work on the planned route for the State Highway 11 extension is expected to start in June, Teague said.

"We just recently receive environmental clearance, and if we do not have any requests for public hearings, we can begin property appraisals in June," he said. "Requests for hearings would delay that process."

A project that calls for the $5.8 million reconstruction of a portion of State Highway 11 east from Sulphur Springs is due to go to contract next month.

"That goes from Wal-Mart out just past Martin Springs," Teague said. "We will be rebuilding that. The old road bed is worn out, and we will be rebuilding that and widening it a little bit."

The project will also add curb and gutters along the highway past Rose Hill.

"We will be putting in some turn lanes at major intersections. That's the first of three or four projects," Teague said. "In the meantime, we will be working on the next leg which will get us past Como."

Also on the drawing board at TxDoT is the construction of super rest stops planned for Interstate 30 near Cumby. Also, new landscaping for the Radio Road Overpass is planned for this spring.

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