Tag Archives: US 380

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!


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.


Gas prices are cheaper … not yet cheap

As I scan the main drag through Princeton, Texas — the four-lane federal highway U.S. 380 — I see evidence of something I had hoped to see.

It’s the price of gasoline receding. At virtually all the fuel dealerships along the highway, the price of regular unleaded gas is now selling from $2.93 per gallon to $2.99.

Hmm. It’s a far cry from the $4-plus we were paying this past spring and summer, yes? I know that other parts of the country were paying a good bit more than we were in Texas. Their gas prices are coming down, too.

It’s cheaper, for sure. It damn sure isn’t “cheap.” We’ve all become accustomed to a sort of new normal ever since gasoline spiked up in the 1970s in response to the Arab oil embargo. Prior to that we were paying double-digit prices to fuel our vehicles; after that, well, we haven’t seen double digits since.

Now we are going to “salute” gas prices inching below 3 bucks per gallon? I won’t go that far. However, it is a relief and I welcome it.


Hoping to see this project done

My next-door neighbor and I were chatting just a little while ago and he reminded me of something I already knew, which is that the traffic on U.S. 380 just north of where we live is horrendous in the extreme.

We laughed about the impossibility of traveling east on 380 from Princeton to Farmersville at 5 p.m. I drive it a few times each month to cover events in Farmersville for the Farmersville Times and I have to build in extra drive time because of the traffic jam along U.S. 380.

Then the subject turned to what the Texas Department of Transportation has planned to help alleviate that traffic. TxDOT is going to build a series of bypass routes around communities between Denton and Greenville.

It’s a long-term project … to say the bare minimum.

Indeed, I told my neighbor — a much younger man than I am — that I probably won’t live long enough to see it completed.

However, I am going to offer some hope that I can see it occur.

The idea is to build freeway bypasses around communities such as Princeton. Those who want to keep on truckin’ can just stay on the freeway; those who have business to do in Princeton or in any community along the U.S. 380 corridor will be able to exit.

TxDOT has done a good job so far of keeping the communities along the way informed of its plans. It has held town hall meetings, opened itself up to plenty of questions from affected residents and sought to explain its long-term strategy in building the bypasses — which TxDOT doesn’t like to call what it intends for the 60-mile-long corridor.

The traffic only is going to worsen along U.S. 380. Collin County is in major growth mode, as are the communities stretched along the highway corridor.

I suppose I am left, therefore, to use this post to implore TxDOT to get busy building the highway. I want to live long enough to see it finished.


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.


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.

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?

TxDOT takes very long view of highway ‘realignment’

Blogger’s Note: This blog post was published originally on the KETR-FM website.

If you had any thought that the Texas Department of Transportation was going to knock out a planned realignment of U.S. 380 through Collin and Hunt counties just like that, well, you can set that thought aside.

It’s going to take some time. And quite a long time at that, according to TxDOT officials who are concluding a series of public presentations along the route of the proposed realignment.

I attended the presentation at Princeton High School this week. TxDOT’s Ceason Clemens delivered a 24-minute summary of the grand plan. It’s a doozy, I’ll tell you.

Here’s the time line, as explained to me by Michelle Raglon, TxDOT public affairs manager: They won’t start “throwing dirt around” for six to nine years and over time, it’s going to take TxDOT roughly 20 years to finish the job; it might go longer than that, Raglon said.

The bottom line? North Texans are in for a long haul.

Clemens made a couple of points I want to highlight before discussing some of the guts of the proposed realignment.

  • One is that there has been no shortage of public meetings about the plans to reconfigure the U.S. 380 corridor from the Denton-Collin County line to Hunt County, she said. TxDOT has received more than 15,000 public comments over the course of about five years.
  • Another is that this project is not subject to any kind of public vote. TxDOT has received authorization from the Texas Legislature to study the feasibility as well as the environmental impact of the work to be done and it is proceeding with that mandate from state lawmakers.

So, what’s in store for Princeton, where I live and where my wife and plan to live for, shall we say . . . the duration?

TxDOT is planning to spend about $353 million to build a loop north of the existing U.S. 380 thoroughfare. It will displace 19 business, compared to 122 that would have been displaced with another option it considered before settling on the recommended route. The affected area lies between Farm to Market Road 1827 to County Road 559. TxDOT believes this route offers “greater support for future economic growth opportunities.”

The highway department is planning average right-of-way depths of 330 to 350 feet, but there will be “exceptions” made around “major interchanges where more is needed for ramps.”

The renderings presented after revealing TxDOT’s recommendations suggest a major widening of the highway to accommodate what is expected to be tremendous growth over the next several decades. Indeed, I recently spoke with Princeton City Manager Derek Borg, who told me the city’s population – which he estimates today to be around 13,000 residents – will top out at around 110,000 residents in the next, oh, 40 or 50 years.

Thus, the pressure on the highway infrastructure is going to be immense. You know?

There’s much more, of course, to this proposal. TxDOT, for instance, is looking at yet another loop south of the existing U.S. 380 corridor through Farmersville. It will displace far fewer businesses and residences than another alternative considered. The TxDOT recommendation offered for the segment from County Road 559 to the Hunt County line will cost around $404 million.

The Princeton High School meeting drew a substantial crowd of about 250 residence. TxDOT brought a full complement of staffers, engineers, spokespeople – you name ‘em – to the public presentation.

My sense is that the size and scope of what TxDOT is pitching – in conjunction with the North Central Texas Council of Governments – hasn’t sunk in completely with those who will be affected.

It all will, over time, which TxDOT seems – at the moment – to have plenty at the moment as it seeks to explain fully what it intends to do with this highway corridor that courses through North Texas.