By BRAD KELLAR
A big crowd filled the Fletcher Warren Civic Center in Greenville Thursday night, for the latest public meeting concerning plans to address future transportation issues along the Blacklands Corridor between Greenville and the Dallas area.
The meeting was hosted by the Regional Transportation Council of the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG). Officials with the agency briefed the audience, some of whom came from as far away as Garland and even Arkansas, on the status of a feasibility study, designed to evaluate what the region needs now and will need during the next 20 years, to handle the growing transportation and traffic levels projected for the area.
But NCTCOG Transportation Director Michael Morris stressed what Hunt County does not need is a toll road.
“I believe the region needs a freeway or toll road from the President George Bush Turnpike to the Regional Loop,” Morris said, in reference to plans for the proposed roadway also known as the Collin County Outer Loop.
“From that facility east, you do need transportation, you are missing a section,” Morris said. “You need a non-toll facility to Greenville.”
The agency presented a list of potential recommendations which are under consideration, including improvements at bottlenecks along Interstate 30, and/or an expansive widening of the interstate throughout the region, which would include freeway lanes, tolled express lanes and the construction of continuous frontage roads.
“We’re not yet at a route alignment,” Morris said concerning the options offered during the meeting. “We’re just trying to find what combination of transportation needs are there.”
The preliminary analysis had revealed the Northeast Texas Rural Rail Transportation District (NETEX) right-of-way through Caddo Mills, Josephine and Nevada would not be suitable for the construction of a proposed new roadway.
The Public Werks company had proposed building a toll road between Greenville and Lavon in Collin County, to help ease traffic congestion in the future. The idea had drawn considerable opposition from residents who lived along the NETEX right of way.
Tom Shelton, Senior Program Manager, stressed that the proposed toll road was not in the current plans.
“Neither them or us are considering that any longer,” Shelton said.
Following additional study, the agency may determine that a toll road is needed somewhere in the western end of the corridor. If so, Shelton said the NCTCOG may contact Public Werks.
“Again, that will only occur if that is our recommended action,” Shelton said.
Shelton said another public meeting may be scheduled in Greenville this summer.