Tag Archives: highway construction

Be patient, Amarillo neighbors

If our plans work out as we hope, my wife and I won’t be living in the Texas Panhandle when they remove the final construction cone or barrel from the myriad road and highway projects underway in Amarillo.

We will have relocated to North Texas, where we’re quite certain we’ll get to witness even more such construction.

I watched my friend Sonja Gross — Texas Department of Transportation public information officer for its Amarillo Division — offer some sound advice on a TV news broadcast to Amarillo residents.

Be patient, she said. The payoff will occur when the road work is done and we can all get around more easily.

TxDOT is in the midst of some major highway infrastructure makeovers.

Interstate 40 between Helium Road and Grand Street in Amarillo is undergoing a major renovation and expansion; Hollywood Road south of the city is being redone; TxDOT has built that direct-access exit from I-40 to the Canyon E-Way, but it’s not yet open for traffic; crews are tearing I-27 apart south of the interchange; crews are building a new bridge across I-40 at Bell Street.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much orange in my entire life.

I’ll agree with those who gripe about the road work that it is a pain in the posterior at times. It occasionally is difficult to navigate through the city. I get their frustration, as I feel it at times myself — although I occasionally get angry at myself for letting my frustration get the better of me. I figure that if being delayed a few minutes is my greatest worry, then I’m doing all right, compared to the troubles that so many others have to endure.

Amarillo, though, is going through a serious renovation at many levels. TxDOT’s work on the highways suggests that the state has committed considerable amounts of public money to this region in an effort to improve our infrastructure. How can we complain about that?

Indeed, as state Sen. Kel Seliger said this week at a Rotary Club of Amarillo meeting, Texas remains a “commodity” state that relies on good roads to get commodities, such as cattle and corn, from “their source to their destination.”

Those roads and highways don’t achieve excellence all by themselves. Human beings need to tear them up, put them back together and then ensure that they’re renovated properly — and safely.

I endorse Sonja Gross’s plea to our fellow Amarillo travelers. Our patience might be tested on occasion, but there will be a reward when they remove those cones and barrels.


NM knows how to build highways

Albuquerque, N.M., along with the New Mexico Department of Transportation, ought to market themselves as the highway interchange construction champions of the nation.

They know how to do it.

Albuquerque is home to what the locals call the Big I, which is shorthand for the Interstate 40/25 interchange in the middle of the city. The state rebuilt the Big I over the course of many years. My wife and I drove through it a couple of times when it was under reconstruction. The experience was harrowing to say the least.

It’s done now and the Big I actually is a thing of beauty, if you consider highway projects to be works of art.


The link here really doesn’t do the Big I justice. Suffice to say, though, that NMDOT has done a fabulous job of creating a piece of civil engineering that is quite pleasing to the eye.

The landscaping is quite spectacular, featuring native flora — desert cactus and other plants that require little irrigation. One overpass on I-40, just a big west of the Big I, actually has multi-colored indirect lighting that glows at night.

I bring all this up because the major interchange in Amarillo, where we live, is far less appealing aesthetically than the one in Albuquerque. I’ve heard complaints from Amarillo residents over many years who say, in effect, that the I-40/27 interchange — which also was rebuilt some years ago — as in “eyesore” to motorists passing through the city.

One friend, a local lawyer, once griped to me about the terrible impression the Amarillo interchange leaves on motorists who may never come back through the city again.

I happen to agree with him.

Albuquerque has done it the right way.

Other cities should take note and follow the Albuquerque’s lead.