Tag Archives: US 380

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!

Where is the end to this monstrosity?

Five years of residence in the rapidly growing city of Princeton, Texas, affords me the right to ask out loud … when and where will there be an end to the eyesore along US Highway 380 that just annoys the daylights out of me?

I refer to the “luxury” apartment complex that sits fallow along the south side of the highway. There has been virtually no sign of human life at the partially built project for a year. It was supposed to spring to life about, oh, a year ago. It didn’t happen.

The city manager who oversaw the permit process, Derek Borg, is gone. He’s been replaced by Mike Mashburn. I asked Mayor Brianna Chacon for some information on the project and she referred me to “legal counsel,” who she said is handling all matters, answering all questions¬†related to this boondoggle.

I have no inside info to share. I have no inside knowledge of what’s going on and who’s talking to whom. I have no way of pushing this project along. All I have is this forum that I am using on occasion to bitch out loud about a project that is looking more and more like a major municipal embarrassment.

A boondoggle in the making?

My chronic nosiness sometimes gets the better of me, particularly when I see large public projects seemingly abandoned.

I am referring in this instance to what I have been calling a “boondoggle in the making” around the corner and down the street from my Princeton, Texas, home.

I reached out to someone in authority at City Hall the other day to ask about the status of the “apartment monstrosity” under construction on the south side of US 380 just east of Walmart. The answer I got? “It’s being handled by ‘legal.'”

Hmm. OK. I asked a follow-up question: Does that mean the project is stalled? No answer has been forthcoming.

Now, I spent more than 36 years as a reporter and editor for two reputable newspapers in Texas and one in Oregon. My job was to sniff out problems when I suspected they were occurring. My gut — in addition to my trick knee — are telling me the city has a problem on its hands.

Princeton City Council approved a massive construction project to build a massive complex of “luxury apartments” on US 380. Site preparation was completed and several structures emerged right away. Work crews installed dry wall on several of the structures.

Then, about a year ago, work stopped at the site. A dispute between the developer and the general contractor led to some sort of work stoppage. The then-city manager told me at the time that they were working it out and that work would resume shortly.

Well, “shortly” never arrived, or so I understand. I haven’t seen any sign of human life on the construction site in weeks. The gates are closed and padlocked. The weather has at times been cold and damp, perhaps damaging the unprotected structures.

I am believing in my bones that the city has a problem in the form of an unfinished apartment complex that is looking more each day like a gigantic eyesore.

Cryptic answers about “legal” counsel answering questions gives me reason — I believe — to be deeply concerned about the future of this blight on our rapidly growing community.

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.

Signs of life at project …

I am happy to report that I see signs of life stirring at the site of a massive apartment complex construction project here in little ol’ Princeton, Texas.

The project got stalled when the general contractor and the developer got into some kind of snit. The contractor either walked off the job or was fired. I don’t know which thing occurred. Work has been shut down since April.

However, if you drive by the site on U.S. Highway 380 just east of Wal-Mart you see (a) an open gate, (b) stacks of newly placed building materials and (c) pickup trucks with hard-hatted men walking around.

That tells me they have a new general contractor.¬† At least that’s what my City Hall snitch has told me.

I am glad the work will continue. Perhaps they’ll get it done soon, get the site cleaned up and made presentable.

They had me worried … but just a little.

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.


Princeton is growing up

I want to share a bit of intel on the city my wife and I now call home: Princeton, Texas, is beginning to show some signs of municipal maturity.

It is growing up before our eyes.

How do I know that? I am seeing “Open” signs on windows of newly built businesses along U.S. Highway 380. A donut shop chain store is opening. So is a pizza joint a bit west on the highway. The city recently welcomed a new coffee shop. A major chain motor fuel station/store is under construction at the U.S. 380-Monte Carlo Boulevard intersection. Strip malls are being completed.

Roadwork is proceeding along several thoroughfares, with more work planned along U.S. 380.

Is this the beginning of the final phase of Princeton’s upbringing? Hardly. I hear talk of a new major grocery store on the way. We still need a movie theater and more eateries, allowing us to stay closer to home.

The maturation will take time. I can wait.


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!