Tag Archives: TxDOT

What happened to speed issue on 380?

Mike Robertson’s name came to my mind today while waiting for Princeton’s mayor, Brianna Chacon, to cut a ribbon and officially open the city’s municipal government complex.

Who is Mike Robertson? He once served on the Princeton City Council and once told me he wanted the Texas Department of Transportation to slow the traffic along U.S. 380 to mph from both ends of the highway route through the city.

Then he decided against seeking re-election to the City Council. He was gone from City Hall.

My concern rests now with the issue he raised. I visited with Robertson a little more than a year ago for a story I wrote for KETR-FM public radio at Texas A&M-Commerce. Robertson spoke of the varying posted speed limits along U.S. 380, how motorists could drive 55 mph as they drove past Princeton High School, but then have to slow to 45 mph as they moved into the middle of the city.

Robertson said he intended to lobby TxDOT — which manages the highway — to reduce the speed limit to 40 mph along U.S. 380’s entire right-of-way through Princeton. I presume he would have allowed the city to post 35 mph limits in front of the high school during certain times of the day, when students are going to school and going home from school.

Robertson’s time on the council has ended. I believe, though, that the issue — and the concerns — he raised are as legit now as they were when he first raised them.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Roadwork does not end

Every return to Amarillo brings new discoveries for us, such as our most recent venture to the city we called home for more than two decades.

The latest discovery deals with road construction. Suffice to say, the slogan that the late Stanley Marsh 3 was fond of displaying — “Road Does Not End” — needs a slight change … to “roadwork does not end.”

Wow! The Loop 335 extension along Helium Road is a monstrous project that to my eyes looks to be years from completion. Same for the work that the Texas Department of Transportation is doing along the southwestern quadrant between Soncy Road and Georgia Street.

Oh, and how about Interstates 40 and 27? I’ll say that our return enabled us to haul our fifth wheel safely and without a hint of peril along I-40, as most of the work along its easternmost lanes is largely complete.

We didn’t around too much of the city during our most recent visit. We trekked to Canyon a couple of times and spent a glorious autumn day hiking in Palo Duro Canyon. Getting from our RV park to those locations proved to be, um, a bit of a nerve-tester as we wound our way through the roadwork.

I want to offer a bit of friendly counsel to our many friends who must endure this seeming madness. Be patient. Please. Do not let your frustrations boil over.

I remember when this work was in the discussion stage. The state and the city haggled and dickered over what to do, when to do it and laid out the best-laid plans possible for a massive job.

That job is now underway. May it continue apace. Just remember, that the “roadwork actually does end.” Eventually.

Until next time …

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Freeway work nearing end?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

AMARILLO, Texas — I’ll be brief.

We returned to our former city of residence and discovered something as we zoomed westbound along Interstate 40: The Texas Department of Texas construction crews are making visible progress in getting the job completed.

Finally!

My goodness it seems as if the I-40 work has gone on forever and ever (amen!). 

I am beginning to believe, even in light of the uncertainty of so many things in life these days, that TxDOT has turned the corner on this massive lane-expansion project.

I happen to know for a fact that my former neighbors are anxious for an end to this highway madness.

Seeking a slowdown

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Princeton City Councilman Mike Robertson wants to slow ‘em down along U.S. Highway 380. He professes patience as he works with his City Council colleagues and the Texas Department of Transportation.

However, given his own experience as the victim of a serious auto accident while he was living in Irving, it appears that his patience might have its limits.

Robertson is proposing to TxDOT to slow traffic to 40 mph along the entire highway thoroughfare as it bisects the city. The speed limits now vary, from 55 to 45 mph. Robertson says that’s too fast, given the incredible growth and the associated increase in traffic volume.

“When the speed limit is 60,” he said, “you have little chance of getting through a wreck without injury.”

TxDOT must perform traffic studies before it decides whether to adjust the speed limits along any major thoroughfare. The city already has installed a new traffic signal at the intersection of 380 and Princeton Meadows near the city’s western boundary. Another signal is planned for the site next to the new municipal complex under construction closer to the eastern boundary along 380.

Once that project is complete, Robertson said, TxDOT will be able to conduct the requisite traffic studies to help the agency make its speed determination.

Robertson said he doesn’t drive much these days, as he works from home running a continuing education program for chiropractors; he no longer is a practicing chiropractor.

“The frequency and the number of speed-related accidents along the highway” are a great concern for the councilman. He said the Princeton Police Department responds daily to wrecks along the highway and expresses great concern about what the anticipated future growth of the city will do to the traffic volume.

Help is on the way, though, in the form of new thoroughfare construction planned for Princeton and for communities along the Highway 380 corridor. Robertson noted that TxDOT wants to build a 380 bypass that will divert through traffic to a thoroughfare north of the current highway. “The bypass eventually will relieve a lot of the traffic congestion,” Robertson said.

Moreover, the city plans to turn Myrick Avenue south of the highway into a second major east-west right-of-way.

All of that will take time. Perhaps lots of time. It’s the period between now and then that concerns Robertson, which is why he wants TxDOT to make a decision sooner rather than later on the speed limit along Highway 380. “We might get to drop the speed,” he said, “but maybe not as much as I would like.”

Traffic remains a concern along U.S. 380 through many North and Northeast Texas communities. Farmersville, for example, recently received a request for a zone change to build an apartment complex near the U.S. 380 corridor. The Farmersville City Council denied the zone change request sought by the apartment developer, citing the “density” of the housing and the potential traffic congestion that it could produce along the rapidly developing thoroughfare.

Indeed, Collin College recently opened its Farmersville campus, which was one of the possible hazards cited by the council in denying the zone change request.

Princeton, meanwhile, continues to grow at a rapid pace. Its main thoroughfare, U.S. 380, continues to have varying speed limits along its route through the city. City Councilman Robertson intends to keep up the push to slow that traffic down to what he believes is a more reasonable and consistent speed.

NOTE: This blog post was published originally on KETR.org.

An actual loop coming?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

AMARILLO, Texas — We returned to a city we once called home and made a wonderful discovery.

As we hauled our fifth wheel toward the RV park where we usually stay when we visit, we came across a massive right of way under construction west of Soncy Road. It goes north-south parallel to Soncy.

I knew it was coming. I knew about plans to build this roadway. I still was struck by the scope of the construction work.

The Texas Department of Transportation is extending what is known around here as Loop 335. It’s a loop in name only. It is no such thing as a loop the way other cities have built them. The intent of highway loops is to allow traffic to speed around cities, allowing motorists to avoid congestion.

That isn’t the case with Loop 335’s western-most portion, the part that runs from Interstate 40 south to Hollywood Road. The commercial develop along the existing leg of the loop has turned Soncy into just another uber-busy street.  I drove it hundreds of times while we lived in Amarillo. I got stuck in traffic countless times over the years.

I want the loop extension to succeed. I am proud of many aspects of Amarillo, its economic development and its infrastructure. What has always puzzled me is why TxDOT built Loop 335 and then allowed it become just another busy street along its western-most corridor.

It’s not a loop now. It will become one eventually when they finish the work and then connect the western corridor with the newly finished and improved southern corridor.

Go slower out there!

BLOGGER’S NOTE — This blog was posted initially on KETR-FM’s website, KETR.org. 

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Princeton City Councilman Mike Robertson is a man after my own heart … speedwise.

He wants to slow motorists down as they travel along U.S. Highway 380, at least while they’re traveling within the city limits.

Robertson is pitching a notion to slow motorists down to 40 mph within the city limits. Currently, the limits vary, from 45, to 50 to 60 mph.

The Princeton Herald is covering this story and it quoted Robertson, thusly: “It doesn’t make any sense to keep such a high speed limit through town.” Yeah. Do you think?

Indeed, U.S. 380 often is clogged with stop-and-go traffic during much of the day. It’s a busy thoroughfare that coarses through the fast-growing community.

The city, though, has limited options. It cannot act on its own because U.S. 380 is maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation, according to the Princeton Herald, which reported: “The city does not have the authority to reduce the speed, however, it has taken measures to slow down traffic within city limits with one new stoplight and they are working on installing a second light.”

Indeed, the addition of signals comports with what City Manager Derek Borg told me about a year ago as we discussed the traffic issues along U.S. 380. Borg is acutely aware of the traffic snarls that occur along the highway and thinks the increased traffic signals, among other things, will help motorists seeking to enter the highway from side streets.

I believe Councilman Robertson is onto something. In fact, when I see the Herald each week, I look at the police blotter section on Page 2 … and what do I see? I often see several instances of “major auto accidents” along U.S. 380. The blotter entry doesn’t designate whether they are speed-related. My strong hunch is that, well, many of them are related to motorists traveling too rapidly along a busy thoroughfare choked with other motor vehicles.

The Herald reports that TxDOT is “receptive” to the idea of slowing vehicles down, but notes any action might require some time for a change to be made official.

Whatever you do, don’t drag your feet, TxDOT. I am one motorist and Princeton resident who backs a councilman’s request to slow the traffic down.

They’re actually building a loop around Amarillo! Woo hoo!

AMARILLO, Texas — This one got past me, which is no surprise, given that I now live about 375 miles east-southeast of here.

We returned to the city we called home for more than two decades and I discovered that the Texas Department of Transportation has been working on rebuilding Loop 335 around the western edge of the city.

The RV park into which we pulled our fifth wheel sits just a bit north of where the work is ongoing. One of the managers there told me that it’s “going to get crazy around here” for a lot of years into the future as TxDOT seeks to remedy what it should have done years ago when it build Loop 335 … which in reality isn’t a loop at all.

As if the years-long widening of Interstate 40 hasn’t created enough hassle and headache for motorists.

I have lamented before on High Plains Blogger that Amarillo’s loop — such as it is — doesn’t resemble a real loop, such as the one that encircles Lubbock, about 120 miles south of Amarillo. However, as one observer told me years ago, it certainly helped when Loop 289 got the go-ahead to circle Lubbock, the governor at the time, Preston Smith, was, um, a native of Lubbock. Hey, it helps to know people in high places.

Loop 335 has become a bottleneck along Soncy Road from Interstate 40 to Hollywood Road.

TxDOT finally got off the dime and started building an extension of the loop west of Soncy. From what I have understood all along, TxDOT is going to created a limited access loop that allows traffic to flow easily. They’ve nearly completed an improvement to Loop 335 along its route along the southern edge of the city.

What has always struck as odd, weird and frankly beyond rational explanation is why they built the thoroughfare to encircle Amarillo without thinking of it as a “loop” that functions the way roadways of this nature usually do. Loop 289 is designed to allow traffic to bypass Lubbock central areas. The aim is to lessen traffic to the extent it is possible.

I can’t help but wonder if the state had done the right way when it first built Loop 335, it might cost the state a good bit less than what it is spending now all these decades later. Just sayin’, man.

The length of time it takes to finish Loop 335 along Helium Road in Amarillo remains a mystery to me. We’ll be back many times in the months and perhaps even years to come. I suspect we’ll see more progress develop with each visit.

Oh, and highway crews still have that monstrosity along I-40 to complete.

I’ll keep our many friends here in our thoughts and prayers.

Needing some answers about all this highway work

Photo by Michael O’Keefe/First Response Photography.

My wife and I moved to Collin County a year ago, then relocated within the county from Fairview to Princeton.

We’ve learned a good bit about Princeton since we planted our roots deeply into a subdivision under construction just south of U.S. 380. One of the things we learned is that the community is in a major growth mode.

How do we know? The highway is under reconstruction and I am getting the word from some of my snitches that it ain’t going to stop any time soon.

They built a median along the highway to curb the number of crashes that were occurring, or so I have been told. The raised concrete median aims to keep people in their own lane.

I am now in search of some answers about the highway makeover and what it means to residents who live here. I am hearing some grumbling about folks who are upset about all the construction; they are frustrated by the constant heavy east-west traffic along U.S. 380; I am hearing about residents griping about the inability to enter the highway from side streets … meaning they want more stop lights.

I have developed a couple of sources at the Texas Department of Transportation, the state agency that is rebuilding the highway. The Princeton city manager has told me that as soon as the median is finished through the length of the city that TxDOT will commence work adding a lane on each side of the highway; they will turn it from a four-lane to a six-lane thoroughfare.

My wife and I figure we bought our house at just the right time. The city is small at the moment; it won’t stay that way for very long. We are reckoning that our real estate investment will pay off handsomely … whenever we no longer are living in the house.

However, the traffic does present some immediate concern. The snoopy part of my emotional makeup compels me to ask around.

I need to know what in the world is going to happen with this highway work. When will it end? And to what end is this work going to finish?

Will this highway work ever end … ever?

AMARILLO, Texas — OK, we haven’t been away all that long from the city we called home for more than two decades.

However, upon our return for a brief visit, my wife and I had hoped to see some tangible progress in the seemingly interminable construction that is ongoing along Interstate 40.

Silly us.

I am acutely aware that civil engineers can see progress. I don’t want to speak ill of the hardworking construction crews, particularly as they toil in 100-degree and the incessant wind that rips across the Panhandle; so I won’t speak ill of them.

Our drive along I-40 from near Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport, though, was fraught with discomfort as we pulled our fifth wheel RV westward toward the RV park where we will spend the next couple of nights.

These heavy-duty jobs send my mind into flights of fantasy. I keep trying to picture in my mind’s eye what the finished interstate highway will look like once it’s done. I had hoped to get a clear vision of what awaits when we arrived in Amarillo. Sadly, I am not there … yet!

Hey, maybe I need to see some renderings. Or some detailed plans.

We’ll depart Amarillo soon for points north and west. We don’t know when we’ll return. I fully expect, though, to hear plenty of griping and moaning from our former neighbors here as they seek to weave their way through the construction barrels along the narrowed construction lanes.

I’ve preached patience before about these projects. The payoff will be a highway that presumably will be safer, roomier and more conducive to safe highway travel.

I’m just waiting — with my own brand of patience — to see greater steps toward its conclusion.

Loop 335 to take center stage yet again

Take a gander at this picture, notably the sign identifying Helium Road. It’s in far west Amarillo, Texas. It runs north-south west of Soncy Road.

Eventually, Helium Road is going to become a very important thoroughfare for the region, just as Soncy Road was supposed to be when it was built so many years ago.

The Texas Department of Transportation recently had one of those ceremonial groundbreaking events signifying the eventual start of construction along Helium Road. TxDOT is going to turn Helium into a newly relocated Loop 335, which circles Amarillo.

Loop 335’s western section now runs along Soncy Road. It has been a serious puzzle to me for years. When TxDOT built Soncy, it did not create a thoroughfare that allows motorists to use the loop as it should have been used: as a way to bypass city traffic.

Soncy Road has become, well, just another busy street. Starting at Interstate 40 and heading south, traffic often slows to a crawl with motorists pulling in and out of strip malls, business malls, a couple of major automobile dealerships, restaurants and a newly developed residential complex.

Loop 335 does not exist as a loop the way, for example, Loop 289 exists in Lubbock. Loop 289 is a raised highway that circles Lubbock; there is limited access on and off the loop. It functions as a bypass highway.

Loop 335 as it has been allowed to develop has turned into something quite different at least along that westernmost quadrant.

Well, Helium Road is about to be torn to pieces. TxDOT will extend the loop past Soncy and run it along Helium. There will be serious disruption along Helium. Indeed, there exists an RV park where my wife and I often stay when we return to Amarillo in our fifth wheel; the RV park sits right on Helium Road, just north of I-40.

So, I’ve got a bit of skin in that particular game.

I don’t know when the work will begin. Nor do I know how long it will take. I am quite certain that Amarillo motorists who have grown weary of the incessant interstate highway construction on I-40 and I-27 will be gnashing their teeth once the work starts on the “new” Loop 335.

My best advice? It’s not much but it’s the best I can do.

Be, um, very patient.