Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

March 27, 2013

TxDOT unveils bypass maps

Relief route would aid traffic in town, not without its opponents

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — For three decades, the holy grail for Corsicana has been a loop around the city to relieve congestion on Seventh Avenue, or Highway 31 through the city.

Now, the public will get a chance to finally have its say when view the detailed maps for the highway relief route, or loop around Corsicana, that’s been proposed by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Cook Center on the Navarro College Corsicana campus.

In addition to finally get a peek at the maps, the public will be invited to ask questions of the engineers, and make their comments to help ensure the project is doing what the public would like.

The goal of the project is to move traffic off of Highway 31 as it goes through Corsicana. Highway 31 through Corsicana is also known as Seventh Avenue, and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to the east of Business 45.

The first part of the project is expected to cost about $50 million. It will include two lanes that go from around Pactiv on the east side, looping south around the city to rejoin Highway 31 at the TxDOT area offices, west of the Walmart.

Ultimately, the project could feature a four-lane freeway with frontage roads, with wide shoulders and overpasses as it crosses major highways, including Interstate 45, and U.S. 287.

“We are looking at putting the project out for bids in August or September of 2014,” said Area Engineer Darwin Myers. Construction could begin around January of 2015, with a projected time frame of 18 to 20 months. That could mean a completion date of summer or fall 2016, he said.

Supporters of the project have offered to deed over land to allow the project to go forward, helping pay the local portion of the costs. Opponents of the project are concerned that the loop will draw business away from the city’s center.

Athens has a loop, but it hasn’t seen an appreciable decline in its downtown business, according to Corsicana City Manager Connie Standridge.

“It will make it easier to come downtown and get where you need to be,” she said. “It will take the majority of the truck traffic off of Seventh Avenue and make it more desirable to come downtown.

“Most people who are coming to the Collin Street Bakery, for example, and intend to stop at the bakery do so intentionally. I don’t believe they get a lot of impulse stops. I can guarantee you the big 18-wheelers don’t stop.”

Both the Corsicana city council and the Navarro County commissioners court have voted to approve the construction of the loop.

“In all the time we’ve been working on a relief route, this is the first time we’ve had funding for it,” Myers said.

In July, the TxDOT commission approved $41 million for the bypass. The local office will provide $5.3 million for the project, and the city and county were supposed to come up with a matching $3.7 million. However, donations of property and the plugging of wells in the right of way are expected to make up the local matching share.

“There’s a lot of property owners who have an interest in the value of improvement in their property by having this go through,” County Judge H.M. Davenport Jr. said. “Commercial value. You can sell it by the foot instead of by the acre.”

People who can’t attend the meeting are still urged to submit their comments for official TxDOT responses by mailing them to Michael A. Renfrow, P.E., TxDOT Dallas District APD, 4777 East Highway 80, Mesquite, TX. 75150. Copies of the maps can also be viewed at the local TxDOT offices, 100 SW County Road 1000, Corsicana, Texas, 75110; or the district offices in Mesquite.

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com