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February 5, 2013

The Blacklands Turnpike

COMMERCE — The proposed toll road now has a name.

The Blacklands Turnpike is the new name of the proposed privately-owned and built limited access four-lane divided toll road between just west of Greenville and Lavon in Collin County. The road will be built along a portion of the Northeast Texas Rural Rail Transportation District (NETEX) right-of-way.  

Neal Barker, with the Texas Turnpike Corporation, presented his case for the toll road before the Commerce Lions Club on Tuesday.

“Texas is behind the 8-ball in terms of road and water infrastructure,” he said. “Collin, Hunt and Rockwall counties are projected to grow by 74 percent in the next 20 years. And TxDOT estimates more than $300 billion is needed to fix road infrastructure.”

According to Barker, the proposed road will help north Hunt County, including Commerce, significantly.

“This would mean faster commutes into the Metroplex, colleges and job centers,” he said. “This will also mean economic growth for sustained development.”

Barker admitted that although this will help smaller cities grow, there are some who do not want it.

“There are some people who want to keep it that way,” he said.

Brenda Short, a Hunt County resident who opposes the road and helped create the website www.notollroad.com, said citizens should be asking their government to be more efficient instead of looking to private corporations.

“If our government would use the money that they told us they would toward roads and use the money more efficiently,” she said. “Write your representatives.”

Recently the city of Commerce signed a non-binding resolution in support of the toll road. Commerce City Manager Marc Clayton said he believes the road would be advantagous to the city.

“The city supports this road,” he said. “I think it would be a definite benefit to not only the city, but also the university.”

There are six steps in getting a road built in Texas. Currently TTC is in the first stage. But Barker said they are working aggressively to seeing construction begin sometime in 2014 and completed in 2017.

“We think we can get this done in 48 months,” he said. “That’s what we’re shooting for.”

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