Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Toll plan is more popular with Tarrant County politicians than the public

In North Richland Hills, Loop 820 hearing draws hundreds


Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Copyright 2008

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — About 350 people signed up to speak Tuesday at a federally required public hearing on the planned expansion of Northeast Loop 820. But first they had to wait.

For the first hour of the hearing at the Richland Hills Church of Christ, officials presented plans to expand the highway from two to five lanes, including two toll lanes, in each direction from Texas 121 through North Richland Hills, Haltom City and north Fort Worth to Interstate 35W.

The second hour was taken up by public officials, including mayors, council members, a Tarrant County judge and a chamber of commerce member — all unanimously agreeing that the expansion plan is the correct way for Northeast Tarrant County to meet future transportation needs.

But the plan didn’t prove as popular with residents.

"Everybody is begging for help," said Pat Coyle of North Richland Hills. "You are going to help us by giving us one free lane."

Each person had three minutes to ask questions or make comments on the plans.

Officials didn’t respond to the public’s comments Tuesday. The Texas Department of Transportation is expected to respond in the project’s environmental impact statement, expected out by the end of the year.

Judith Anderson, a Transportation Department engineer, said the public’s input will be carefully considered during the end-stage design of the project.

Northeast Loop 820 expansion plan Some of the questions asked during Tuesday’s hearing:

Why build two toll lanes for the affluent but only one for regular traffic?

Why is a foreign company being paid to build a Texas road?

Why has it taken so long for the Texas Department of Transportation to put together plans to meet the transportation needs of Northeast Tarrant County?

Didn’t make the public hearing?

It’s not too late to have your say. Written comments may be submitted by mail and must be received on or before July 14 to become part of the official hearing record.

Address: Texas Department of Transportation Fort Worth District Office

2501 SW Loop 820, P.O. Box 6868, Fort Worth, TX 76115


MATT FRAZIER, 817-685-3854

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