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April 24, 2014

Joining forces to improve transportation

GREENVILLE — Business and government leaders from across Northeast Texas gathered in Greenville Wednesday to discuss plans for the future of Interstate 30.

The Tex-21 I-30 Corridor Task Force is asking the Texas Department of Transportation to conduct a “corridor study” for the interstate, to determine what it would take to widen the highway to six lanes divided and add increased frontage roads along the corridor, which stretches between the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and Central Arkansas.

Chris Brown, the executive director of the Ark-Tex Council of Governments, told the group that there is a need to begin urging state and government leaders to address the situation now.

“What we don’t want is for I-30 to become another I-35 before we can do anything about it,” Brown said.

Wednesday’s meeting included officials from Greenville, Commerce, Caddo Mills, Rockwall, Sulphur Springs and from Mount Vernon, Rowlett and Garland.

Hunt County Judge John Horn noted how improving Interstate 30 was necessary “to improve not only our economic prowess, but the prowess of our neighbors to the east.”

Brown had served as Hopkins County Judge until stepping down in October 2013 to take the Ark-Tex Council of Governments position. He has since moved from Sulphur Springs to Texarkana and said during the past for months he has often driven 100 miles a day along the interstate.

“I have seen four different wrecks which have shut down I-30,” Brown said, explaining that motorists will learn to find other routes to reach their destinations to the west or to the east, even if it takes them out of their way.

“That’s what is detrimental for us, to allow that to keep happening,” Brown said.

Brown said there is a need to form a Regional Planning Organization (RPO) for the area along the interstate between Hunt County and Texarkana, which will join with similar groups which already represent transportation planning efforts throughout the corridor in communicating with government leaders to provide adequate funding.

“We’ve got to get the message out and that is what it takes,” Brown said.

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