Lubbock Mayor hopes to extend I-27 - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Lubbock Mayor hopes to extend I-27

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - As the population in the Lubbock area continues to increase, so does the traffic.

The Texas Department of Transportation has launched a new construction project to help make the roads more safe.

TxDOT started the $380,000 safety improvement project on Sept. 2. Crews began building cable median barriers in the South Loop 289 median between Sherman Avenue and the northbound I-27 flyover as well as in various locations along US 84 in Garza County. 

"Cable median barriers stop vehicles from crossing the open median and prevent the worst types of crashes, mainly head-on collisions," said George Villarreal, P.E, TxDOT traffic engineer.

The project's completion date is scheduled for October. 

Meanwhile, Mayor Robertson said he believes it may be time for another big project.

He has planned a meeting with regional mayors, county officials, economic developers as well as TxDOT representatives to discuss petitioning TxDOT to conduct a new feasibility study for future I-27 expansion. Robertson said the last feasibility study was conducted in 1997 prior to the population growth and oilfield expansion. 

"We've got several things driving it. Number one the City of Lubbock is growing at about 2 percent a year, 4,000 to 4,500 people a year, not including Texas Tech which is growing at an even faster rate," Robertson said. 

Mayor Robertson said he has scheduled the meeting for Monday. 

"I think we will have a very good representation of elected officials and economic development folks from the entire region," he said.

"The overall picture is to someday tie it in to what Ports-to-Plains is doing, which is a corridor from the Texas border all the way up to Canada. This portion that we are going to look at is much more narrow focused. It's going to be the possibility of extending I-27 north out of Amarillo and the possibility of extending it south out of Lubbock," Robertson said.

Mayor Robertson said that expansion would put Lubbock on the map from a distribution and logistics standpoint.

"We are in a position to capitalize in our geographic location and the fact that we need to change from being a warehousing community to a true distribution community," he said.

It is a project Mayor Robertson believes could take 40 to 50 years to complete.

"I am very well aware that in my lifetime, I will not see the fruits of this labor, but I hope my grandchildren will," he said. "I love this community and I think for Lubbock to be where we need to be fifty years from now, that interstate needs to be extended."

"The State of Texas is growing at a rate of 1,000 people per day. We could be looking at a population in Lubbock of 500,000 plus. Within the county I could see us easily approaching the million mark," Mayor Robertson said.

He said the first step is to come to a consensus as a coalition to petition TxDOT and request a feasibility study. He hopes these city and county officials will agree to write letters both individually and jointly to TxDOT requesting the study. He said the next step would be to create an advisory committee that would help advise TxDOT through the process of determining which highways are already in existence as future interstate.

"Hopefully in 40 to 50 years, we see it going from Lubbock down to Del Rio and down into Laredo and then on up north through Dalhart and kicking all the way up into Denver."

He also plans to ask the mayors from the region to consider joining him in forming a West Texas Mayors Alliance.

"We've got to get together as West Texas. We're a 15 percent of the vote West of I-35 in the state. We don't have much political clout in Austin, but gathered together Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, El Paso, Big Spring, San Angelo, if we can come together and meet maybe biannually and agree on common issues that we have, then I think it will help us in Austin as we try to do more for the citizens of West Texas," Mayor Robertson said.

Copyright 2014 KCBD. All rights reserved.

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