By Chris Edwards
WOODVILLE – “It’s a very important thing. People are very much aware of the situation,” Tyler County Judge Milton Powers said as he opened up a public workshop last Tuesday evening in the district courtroom inside of the county courthouse devoted to the planned US 69 corridor expansion project, which is planned to run 25 miles, from the north to south end of the county.
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) district engineer Martin Gonzalez explained the proposed route alignments and spoke about his agency’s two planned public meetings in Tyler County concerning the project, and for public input.
Gonzalez spoke of how TxDOT arrives at its projected path alignments for projects. “We always encourage participation to attend these events,” he said, and added that TxDOT incorporates public comments and concerns into its projections.
“We’re still so early in the process that if somebody asks us if this is going to be [a particular element] we can’t tell them now,” he said. “Our goal is to try to mitigate as much as we can as far as impact is concerned.”
TxDOT spokesperson Sarah Dupre said that all of the projected routes presented are preliminary. “Nothing is in concrete right now, no pun intended,” she said.
Dupre encouraged everyone in attendance to submit comments concerning the project through the TxDOT website, txdot.gov.
Pct. 1 Commissioner Joe Blacksher asked the TxDOT representatives about the projected project timeline, which has a 2030 letting date.
Gonzalez provided a detailed timeline, which included a schedule of environmental studies and hearings leading up to route finalization. Right-of-way acquisition would occur after the environmental studies, he said, and currently, by winter 2024, a route selection should be final, yet is always subject to change.
The proposed route is a 25-mile project, which, according to TxDOT is designed to provide a relief route to support safe and efficient north and southbound movement of people and goods between Colmesneil and Warren.
The proposal calls for a new location roadway with two 12-foot travel lanes in each direction, a northbound 13-foot outside shoulder to be used as a hurricane evacuation lane and a southbound 10-foot outside shoulder. Schematics also show two-lane frontage roads in either direction, which would call for 400 feet of right-of-way width.
One TxDOT-hosted public meeting took place on Tuesday evening in Woodville at Kirby Gym, and a second is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 26 in Warren at the Warren ISD Board Room, located at 375 FM 3290 South, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.