TxDOTgets mixed reaction on possible outer route project - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/1/09

TxDOT gets mixed reaction on possible outer route project

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By Katie Bauer  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A project that could be 30 years in the making got its start on Tuesday night when the Texas Department of Transportation held a public meeting to consider the feasibility study for the Lubbock outer route.

The purpose of the study is to determine a preferred alternative for an outer route around a growing city.  Options for the route include US 84 northwest of Lubbock to US 84 southeast of Lubbock. Nearly 100 people came to learn more about the possible project and it's already stirring up emotions.

Mike Harkey is a farmer in Shallowater and the idea of a possible outer route concerns him. "The fact that if this outer loop goes through from the start there in Shallowater is probably going to put me out of my home," he said.   

Harkey made a point to go to the Texas Department of Transportation public meeting on Tuesday to voice these concerns. "I was wanting to leave it to my kids and if they want to farm someday, if this goes up and down that part of the road, every piece of land I have is up and down that road and it will basically put me out of business if they cut my farms up," said Harkey.   

"It's kind of hard to answer people's questions tonight (Tuesday) because we don't know where anything is going we don't really know what's going in, but that's what the study is for," said Steve Warren with TxDOT. 

Warren says although this project is two to three decades away, it's important to start planning now. "We are really just taking the first baby steps in saying what do we need to build in the next 30 years to handle traffic growth in Southwest Lubbock," said Warren. 

TxDOT is currently considering a lot of different options and encourages public opinion. "We're looking at do we need a freeway type facility, do we need just a four lane divided highway type facility, or do we just need to look at improvements on certain roadways, widening specific roadways to handle it," said Warren. 

While some citizens oppose a roadway expansion, others at the meeting encouraged city growth. "I hope I'm alive to drive on a outer freeway because if that's the case then that means Lubbock has continued to grow. That means that the city people in Lubbock have done their due diligence, so we can get around the city a lot easier," said Lyle Donathan. 

To put into perspective why TxDOT is planning so early, you have to look at Loop 289. It was built in the 1960's, but planning for it started in the early 1940's, and at that time the south part of the Loop was at 43rd Street.

TxDOT plans to hold another public meeting in December.

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