Thursday, December 14, 2006

“This has nothing to do with Trans-Texas Corridor.”

TxDOT discusses I-35 expansion

December 14, 2006

Gainesville Daily Register
Copyright 2006

The key word is “preliminary,” transportation officials said Wednesday.

Those whom the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) considered “stakeholders” in a plan to expand Interstate 35 through Cooke County to additional lanes were invited to one of two meetings on Wednesday.

At 10 a.m. in the Gainesville Civic Center, TxDOT and consulting firm Carter-Burgess of Fort Worth hosted Gainesville officials including City Manager Mike Land and police Chief Carl Dunlap.

At 2 p.m. at the Valley View City Hall, Mayor Carl Kemplin and Valley View ISD Superintendent Kathy Garrison discussed concerns with TxDOT officials regarding alternative, draft proposals to expand I-35 from the current four lanes.

The meetings precede a public hearing on the widening proposals, which is scheduled from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Gainesville Civic Center, 311 S. Weaver St.

Between now and then, TxDOT engineer Wayne Bell said officials will begin a “feasibility study” and will prepare a rough estimate of property acquisition, construction and other associated costs. Bell said he plans to present the study, with a list of pros and cons to several alternatives, at the public hearing Jan. 16.

Guests at each meeting noted potential incompatibilities with the proposed unofficial plans as TxDOT engineer Danny Brown made notes in red ink on the long, printed satellite view maps of I-35 from the Cooke County line to the Red River.

Carter-Burgess project manger Rodger Clements reviewed TxDOT’s plans to expand the highway, and hosted the meeting.

Plans include not only adding new lanes but straightening the curves and flattening some of the hills — most notably finding ways to cut down on the angle of curvature at the Cooke-Denton county line, near the Elm Fork-Trinity River bridge, and near the Red River.

Clements said the proposals are not yet viewable by the public via a Web site but will be prior to the public hearing.

Two of the proposal maps presented do away with the original I-35 route through southern Cooke County entirely and proposes a six-lane beltline from southern Cooke County — one to the Red River, to run half-a-mile west of Gainesville and Valley View and another to bypass only the southern portion of the county closer to Valley View.

“Doesn’t this cut into Trans-Texas Corridor territory?” Kemplin asked.

“This has nothing to do with Trans-Texas Corridor,” Brown said.

Garrison opposed the western route as it comes close to Valley View ISD’s land and existing football field, and bypasses businesses on the existing I-35.

Other proposals include following the existing route with three lane road with median barrier and 10-feet-wide shoulders, a three-lane road with 12-feet-wide shoulders with median barrier and room for an additional fourth lane on each side.

The two plans which cut through Gainesville and Valley View call for making the service roads on each side of the interstate highway one-way and removing overpasses at Southland Drive in Gainesville and FM 1307 in Valley View.

The Gainesville plan is in conjunction with a removal of the current half-clover interchange at U.S. Highway 82 and I-35 and replacement of a standard on and off ramp system. Work on the interchange is scheduled to begin in 2007.

Bell said the expansion plans have noting to do with Trans-Texas Corridor 35 or plans to run the TTC-35 route up the I-35 corridor.

He said the expansion is necessary. Denton County will see an expansion of I-35 to four lanes each way soon, and the population of Cooke County is expected to grow along with Denton.

“In the meantime we will, of course, continue to maintain I-35,” Bell said.

Reporter Andy Hogue may be contacted at

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