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TxDOT squashes Victoria effort for two-way frontage roads

By Melissa Crowe
June 12, 2014 at 1:12 a.m.
Updated June 13, 2014 at 1:13 a.m.


IF YOU GO

Texas Transportation Plan 2040

• WHAT: Stakeholder workshop

• WHEN: 9:30-11:30 a.m. July 17

• WHERE: 700 Main Center, Room 204, Victoria

• WHAT: Open house

• WHEN: 5:30-7:30 p.m. July 17

• WHERE: 700 Main Center, Room 204, Victoria

The Texas Department of Transportation put the brakes on a proposed change to the future Interstate 69 corridor in Victoria.

Area business owners were rooting for TxDOT to change the flow of traffic on frontage roads, which are currently under construction, to two-way. Without two-way traffic or an overpass, customers could end up traveling an almost 8-mile loop to access some businesses along U.S. Highway 59.

However, TxDOT officials point to the state roadway design manual: Any frontage road constructed as part of the state highway system will be designed and constructed for one-way traffic.

Since the announcement that frontage road traffic along that corridor would be one-way, at least one business has announced it is holding a $2.5 million construction plan, and more business owners are coming forward, concerned the change in access could be disastrous.

John New, owner of New Distributing, called the state's plan "misguided."

"They're doing something halfway and not realizing the ramifications to businesses," he said.

The construction of 3.4 miles of frontage road is estimated to cost $15.75 million, funded as part of the $2.9 billion in Proposition 14 bonds issued in 2008.

TxDOT cannot agree to the construction of two-way frontage roads, Ted Houghton Jr., chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission, said in a letter addressed to County Judge Don Pozzi.

Pozzi said the state's stance is "pretty clear."

"As far as any possibility of making it two-way, that's pretty well dead," Pozzi said.

TxDOT's policy is to eliminate all existing two-way frontage roads on the state's highways as the roads are reconstructed or rehabilitated.

"As we move to eliminate all existing two-way frontage roads to greatly improve the safety of the state highway system, it is not reasonable for us to consider creating unnecessary safety risks on other highways by adding two-way frontage roads to them," Houghton wrote in the letter.

Given the risk and reality of head-on collisions, research and experience reveals that two-way frontage roads are more dangerous and deadly than those with one-way traffic, Houghton wrote in the letter.

The transportation chairman said he believes other options exist to provide access to properties along the new frontage road, but business owners and the county judge are less optimistic.

"My recollection is the several times we've discussed this, the options we talked about were crossovers and overpasses, and those things fell on deaf ears, so I don't know what they're talking about," Pozzi said.

Terry Hlavinka, vice president of Hlavinka Equipment Co., said he doesn't see any options that will satisfy businesses on that 3.4-mile stretch.

"Somebody would have to open up a big, fat checkbook to solve that problem, and I don't know where that money's going to come from," Hlavinka said.

The group is not giving up, he said.

Still, New is hopeful the state will elaborate on options.

"The overpass is the solution, and I hope there's enough wisdom to see that needs to get done," New said. "I just hope they have the wisdom to get that overpass built in a reasonable period of time."

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