Tag Archives: TxDOT

Time is no one’s friend

I have surrendered to the reality that time marches on relentlessly and that I likely will not be around long enough to see a major highway project planned by the Texas transportation department come to its fruition.

If only …

Those of us who live along US Highway 380 gnash our teeth and grumble — sometimes quite loudly — over the traffic (non)flow along the highway at certain times of the day.

It’s impossible. It’s maddening. It’s annoying in the extreme.

The Texas Department of Transportation has a big-league plan ostensibly to solve this problem. It plans to build a series of freeway “loops” around several cities that sit astride US 380. Princeton, where I live, is one of them.

What might stand in the way of TxDOT finishing this project before the end of time? It might be the stubborn resistance of property owners who will have their land claimed under the right of eminent domain. The Constitution’s Fifth Amendment — which has more to say than protecting Americans from self-incrimination –also says that citizens deserve “just compensation” if the government seizes their property.

The state will have to claim a lot of private property if it intends to build those loops.

Too damn often these days, I get caught in the middle of a serious traffic jam, either westbound in the morning or eastbound in the early evening. My late wife used to wonder: Where are all these people going? All I know, I would say, is that they’re all here right now.

The freeway loops are designed to allow through-traffic to venture off of US 380, saving the existing highway for local traffic.

I’ll admit to having high hopes of living long enough to see this project completed. Those hopes now are all but dashed. State traffic planners keep yammering about transferring project money elsewhere … and we have that eminent domain issue lingering over us.

Meanwhile, I’ll just keep gnashing my teeth waiting for the stopped traffic to get moving … anywhere!

Highway crew goes over the line

As a general rule I am not inclined to gripe about the Texas highway department’s construction crews.

I am making an exception based on an experience I had today.

I was returning home from a quick trip to Beaumont, where I paid my respects at the funeral of a dear friend. I was driving north along U.S. Highway 69 through the Piney Woods; I veered onto a toll road and got back onto U.S. 69 south of Greenville.

That’s when it happened. A highway repair crew had stopped traffic because it had become a one-lane right-of-way. I pulled in at the end of a long line of northbound traffic. I could peer toward the head of the line to see the end of the southbound traffic. I noticed the last vehicle.

Our line started to move About a dozen vehicles got through. Then the flagger put the “STOP” sign up. We waited — hold on for this one — for roughly 40 minutes. No one moved through the site. Our line behind me backed up maybe more than a mile. I imagined that the southbound line of vehicles was just as long. Finally, the crew let the southbound vehicles through.

Finally, the end of that flow appeared, and we got through the site. The flagger was waving at us as we drove through. To be brutally candid, I was tempted to give that person the finger … but I didn’t.

I didn’t check my watch, but I am certain I was stopped dead on the highway for an hour.

Holy cow, man! I was beat from the drive from Beaumont. The last thing in this entire world I wanted to do was sit in stopped traffic because a Texas highway department road crew couldn’t manage the flow properly.

There. I’m done. Yes, I feel better now.

Traffic woes to mount

The more I think about the decision to bring a huge new shopping complex to Princeton, Texas, the more I also have to think about one of the consequences of that massive new business endeavor.

Traffic, man!

When I travel through this part of Collin County, I hear a bit of chatter about how Princeton is becoming a city motorists should seek to avoid. Why? Because the traffic along US 380 becomes impossible … and impassable!

Just yesterday, in fact, I was coming home from an outing in Tarrant County. I drove across Fort Worth, along the Sam Rayburn Tollway and then high-tailed it to US 75 northbound. I made the exit onto US 380 in McKinney and started to head east toward the house.

Then I stopped. And waited. And waited some more for the traffic to move. It did. It took a while!

The Princeton City Council has approved a 91-acre parcel to be developed into a major shopping complex on the north side of 380. I favor the decision. I want the business to come to the city I call home. I also wonder about the wisdom of the council’s decision. Why is that? Well, I covered a Farmersville City Council meeting a couple of years ago and watched that council reject an apartment complex because — here it comes — of the traffic problems it would create.

Princeton’s council seemingly doesn’t have such concern, as it approved a mammoth apartment complex a few hundred yards east of where the shopping complex is planned. Work on that project still appears to be far from finished, but when it’s done, it also will spill hundreds of vehicles onto the highway every day.

Maybe I should look at this issue more strategically. Texas transportation planners are hoping to build a freeway bypass around Princeton …. eventually! It is designed to relieve traffic congestion on 380. Last I heard, though, the state is a long way from turning over any dirt on that project.

That work likely will outlive this old geezer’s time on Earth.

Don’t misunderstand me, as I am not going to reverse myself and oppose the business complex. I am a pro-biz guy and the revenue the shopping complex will generate will be very good for this city.

We’d all better prepared ourselves, though, for some major teeth-gnashing as we seek to get home in time for dinner.

Princeton’s evolution continues

My wife and I moved into a city that appeared to be a place without definition, without an identity.

Princeton, Texas, though, was — and is — a city in transition. It is transitioning from a tiny burg that straddles a major U.S. highway into something that is, well, considerably more significant.

The city council’s decision this past week to rezone a 91-acre parcel on the north side of that highway, U.S. 380, to make room for a major shopping complex signals how the city has decided to identify itself.

As a new resident, having lived here for five years, I welcome the change. It provides us with a variety of choices to spend disposable income and to boost the revenue stream for a city that is growing — rapidly, I must say — into municipal adulthood.

The retail complex will comprise 36 outlets. Some of ’em are huge, man. About the only thing missing that would satisfy my taste is a movie theater; but perhaps that also will be on the way … maybe even soon!

I have mentioned already that I do have a concern about the traffic that is bound to be affected dramatically along the aforementioned highway. It’s already become a proverbial “parking lot” during rush-hour in the morning and late evening; westbound traffic comes to a halt in the morning, while eastbound traffic does the same thing in in the evening.

The state wants to divert much of that traffic to bypass lanes that would skirt around the highway. Princeton is one of many communities facing the same traffic woes along 380.

I am going to welcome the new business that is headed our way. It helps turn Princeton into something much more than a community full of new houses with occupants who at this moment have to go somewhere else to invigorate other cities’ economy.

I certainly am hoping Princeton can join the municipal “big leagues” in pretty short order.

City to be remade … totally!

The Princeton (Texas) City Council has delivered a decision that is bound to change the rapidly changing profile of the city even more dramatically than any decision made in many decades.

The council approved a zone change for a 91-acre parcel of land north of U.S. 380 and west of Beauchamp Boulevard that signals the beginning of a new 36-store (for now) shopping complex.

It’s a huge deal, man. I mean, it is — shall we say — really huge!

But with any major piece of economic news such as this, there must be an examination of the concerns it likely will bring. I’ll get to that in a second.

The development will bring major retail outlets such as Market Street, Hobby Lobby, Mashall’s and Lowe’s to Princeton. It also will add a huge number of smaller businesses throughout the complex. Officials expect the complex to generate about 1,500 new jobs, generating about $225 million annually in sales.

Developers plan to begin site preparation this summer. They hope to open some of the outlets by 2026.

Now, what about the downside?

It’s a big concern, man. U.S. 380 already is jampacked with vehicles during morning and late-afternoon rush hours. One must ask: What is the addition of all that traffic going to do to the traffic (non)flow  during those times?

The Texas Department of Transportation is planning to construct a highway bypass around Princeton. When will that occur and when will it be finished? Well, I don’t expect to live long enough to see that massive traffic project completed.

“This is something that will forever change the landscape of our city,” Mayor Brianna Chacon said, according to the Princeton Herald.

Indeed, the city’s municipal landscape already is changing rapidly, with the enormous growth that is occurring here. The population signs noting 17,027 residents living here after the 2020 Census already is grossly out of date. Many experts peg the city’s current population at slightly less than 30,000 residents.

Someone recently posted a social media message noting the pending arrival of these businesses. Then I heard some chatter around town from folks asking, “Where are they going to put all those stores?”

Well … now we know.

County calls out TxDOT

Texas transportation planners apparently believe that what they giveth they can taketh away without being challenged.

Not so fast, according to Collin County’s Commissioners Court.

Commissioners have sent the Texas Transportation Commission a letter requesting the state return $490 million it had set aside for highway improvements that run through the heart of one of Texas’s fastest-growing counties.

Full disclosure: I live in the area affected by this still-growing dispute between the county and the state.

The letter references work planned for U.S. Highway 380 and Texas Spur 399 in McKinney. The 380 project includes a freeway bypass that TxDOT is considering for Princeton, as well as several other communities within the Collin County boundary. TxDOT wants to divert the money for high-occupancy vehicle lanes in Harris County.

Collin County commissioners are having none of it. Nor should they.

TxDOT has gone through a number of public hearings, taking hours upon hours of public comment on the impact of the highway improvements planned for cities such as Princeton, Farmersville, McKinney, Prosper, and Little Elm.

Now it wants to yank a sizable portion of the money it had set aside for that work to build HOV lanes in Houston?

I want to stand with Collin County’s Commissioners Court on this matter. I likely won’t live long enough to see the completion of the massive project being planned for Highway 380, but I damn sure want the state to listen to this elected governing board, which has stated in unambiguous language that it wants the money restored.

“Mobility is part of what drives the strong economic engine of North Texas and specifically Collin County,” commissioners wrote to the Transportation Commission. “A delay on such critical projects can have an impact on state revenues” and would have a negative impact on air pollution associated with traffic congestion in the region, they wrote.

Those of us who live here and who have to tolerate the stand-still traffic patterns along Highway 380 shouldn’t tolerate this takeaway of public money.


Bring on the expansion!

Days like today make me wish for all I’m worth for the Texas highway department to get cracking on the improvements it is planning for a major North Texas highway that leads me to the house.

I spent the bulk of my day at the hospital visiting with my wife as she continues her recovery from brain surgery. I left — wouldn’t you know? — at rush hour for the (supposedly) 15- to 20-minute drive home to Princeton.

Silly me …

I diverted the truck north along the Central Expressway to avoid getting caught in the stopped traffic along Texas Highway 5 near the hospital.

I made the turn at U.S. 380 in McKinney and headed east. So far so good. Then I got to Airport Drive.

Then the traffic came to a screeching stop. No one moved. An endless stream of vehicles with brake lines shining loomed ahead of me. We crept along like the proverbial snail. My 15-minute drive then turned to a 40-minute ordeal.

The Texas Department of Transportation is planning to expand U.S. 380 from four to six lanes. Then it will — eventually! — build a freeway pass around Princeton.

Yes, it was moment like what I experienced today that make me wish for the sight of those ubiquitous orange construction cones.

Bring it on! Sooner rather than later!


Road work does not end

A wacky millionaire in Amarillo, the late Stanley Marsh, was proud of posting signs around the city. One of them said “Road does not end.”

I now live in a community, Princeton in Collin County, Texas, where it can be said with a straight face that “road work does not end.”

We have this highway, U.S. 380, that runs through our city in an east-west direction. Traffic on it stalls westbound in the morning and eastbound in the afternoon as motorist go to work and then return home from work, respectively.

The Texas Department of Transportation and cities along the U.S. 380 route are planning ways that they acknowledge — if you ask them — that their big ideas are going to cause a whole lot of teeth-gnashing for the next several years.

They all want to relieve the traffic pressure on U.S. 380. Princeton City Manager Derek Borg told me recently that sometime in 2024, TxDOT will begin work on widening the highway from four lanes to six. Sheesh! Do I have to tell you about the disruption that will occur along that right-of-way? I won’t bother. I think you get it.

That’s not nearly the end of it.

Sometime soon, TxDOT is going to build freeway passes through communities along U.S. 380. Princeton, Farmersville, McKinney, Prosper, Little Elm and God knows where else will feel the impact of that work.

TxDOT has been gathering information from the communities, assessing the environmental impact of the monumental job. I am not sure when the agency plans to start work. This much I know: When it starts, there will be headaches a-plenty all along the highway.

When will it end? I haven’t a clue. I do believe it will bring significant traffic relief for cities such as Princeton … until the state decides to do even more work on our roadways.

The road work does not end!


City facing plenty of teeth-gnashing

Princeton, Texas, is a community in transition. How do I know that? Because it is moving rapidly from its former status as a tiny burg to a community of considerable consequence.

Part of that transition is going to involve traffic improvements. How does the city improve traffic flow while it is in the middle of rapid-growth mode? By tearing up streets and forcing residents and visitors to the city around construction sites.

In short, we’d all better prepare ourselves for an extended period of teeth-gnashing, grumbling and flashes of anger.

The Texas Department of Transportation is going to tear U.S. Highway 380 up in the next year or so. TxDOT plans to widen the highway that runs east-west through Princeton; it will add a lane in either direction. If I owned a business along the highway I would be, um, upset with the disruption of access to my property.

That’s just one part of what awaits U.S. 380. Later, TxDOT will build a freeway bypass that will take motorists away from the existing highway, clearing it of much of the traffic that slows to a virtual stop at least twice each day.

The city has two major street jobs underway. A significant portion of Myrick Boulevard is being remade. So is Second Avenue. The city has erected detour signs, sending motorists along routes that take them out of their way.

I want to caution everyone about something they know in their hearts, but which they likely forget at times. It is that the construction won’t last forever and that the result of that construction is going to produce better-quality rights-of-way. The streets won’t be as bumpy and pothole marked as they are at the moment.

Our tax dollars are going to be working for us. I’m OK with it.


Wanting traffic relief

I have decided my next crusade is going to involve improving traffic flow along U.S. Highway 380 from Denton through Princeton in Texas.

I am weary to the point of exhaustion over having to deal with the slowdown, outright traffic-flow stoppage and the assorted headaches associated with sharing the highway with others.

The Texas Department of Transportation is planning to build highway bypasses through McKinney, Princeton (where I live with my wife and puppy) and Farmersville.

The work cannot commence a moment too soon, Which means it will be completed not a moment too soon … either.

The idea is to build freeway bypasses around these rapidly growing communities, enabling motorists to scoot past them en route to destinations farther to the east and west.

My patience wears out, I suppose, the older I get. The clock keeps ticking. My patience might have a limit, although I don’t yet know where it is. I hope I have more in the tank than I appear to believe I have at this moment.