KCBD Investigates: Can the county afford to build an outer loop - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

KCBD Investigates: Can the county afford to build an outer loop and expand Woodrow Road?

Senator Perry is concerned construction of Loop 88 will drive more people to an already busy Woodrow Road (Source: KCBD) Senator Perry is concerned construction of Loop 88 will drive more people to an already busy Woodrow Road (Source: KCBD)

It's not every day a state senator shows up to a county commissioners meeting, but that is exactly what happened.

As Lubbock County commissioners move toward funding Loop 88, Senator Charles Perry said he has some major concerns about what that will do to a nearby county road.

"Woodrow Road in my estimation, Slide to US-87, literally is the most [important] safety issue that we have today," Perry said.

In August of 2004, a Lubbock-Cooper High School senior died in a five=car pileup on Woodrow Road.

"It has always stuck in the back of my mind," Perry said.

One year later, at that same intersection, another accident left three people dead.

Lubbock-Cooper ISD parents demanded changes.

Lubbock County commissioners decided to take action on what they called one of the most dangerous intersections in the county.

Crews worked to widen Woodrow Road and eventually build an overpass.

However, as the county continues to grow in that direction, so do concerns.

"Lubbock-Cooper is the second fastest growing school district in Texas in terms of percentage growth," said Lubbock-Cooper ISD Superintendent Keith Bryant.
"In the three years I've been here, we have had a number of accidents on Woodrow Road," Bryant said.

Bryant said they expect the district to nearly double to 4,100 students in the next eight years.

"As far as I can tell, we are the only one of those fast growth school districts in Texas whose main high school campus is not on a state highway, a U.S. highway or a city street; it's on a county road," Bryant said.

He said expanding and widening Woodrow Road is a priority for the district.

"We've got a significant problem that in my estimation is only going to get larger unless something is done to address the amount of traffic that flows up and down Woodrow Road," Bryant said.
"We need a way to get to our kids safely," said concerned parent Katrina Young.

Young graduated from Lubbock-Cooper ISD and so did two of her sons.

She said her youngest son is a freshman at the high school

"A whole lot of safety concerns because we worry about our kids when they start driving, being so narrow and all of the traffic," Young said.

She said this is not a new safety concern.

"There was a pretty big accident even when I was in school that took the life of one of our students," Young said.

"We have met with our two commissioners that touch Lubbock-Cooper, we have met with TxDOT, I have testified before the MPO; as a district we are reaching out to everyone we can to try to help us with a solution," Bryant said.

Experts have predicted this growth for years, which is Steve Warren, the Lubbock District Engineer for TxDOT, said they began discussing the possibility of an outer loop more than 20 years ago.

"It continues to grow and especially on this first segment we are working on. From US 87 to Wolfforth, that is where the fastest growth is not only in retail and commercial, but in residential development. It's just been booming out there," Warren said.

Warren said this project will eventually stretch from Slaton to Shallowater.

TxDOT hopes to start construction on the first segment of the project soon, which is why they made a presentation to Lubbock County commissioners in December.

"I assume you are aware we are coming to Lubbock County asking for 8.75 million dollars for the local match for the right-of-way and utility adjustments for that first segment and that is just for segment three; I want to make that very clear," Warren said to commissioners.

Senator Perry attended that meeting where he shared some concerns with the commissioners.

"You are going to put a lot of pressure on Woodrow with Loop 88 in place. With all the traffic and the school districts and the growth going on out there, you have to think about that project concurrently," Perry told commissioners.

Warren said like with Loop 88, commissioners can expect the Woodrow Road widening project to have a pretty big price tag.

"If you are wanting to widen that road yourselves, keep it off system, we estimate 7 to 8 million dollars to get the necessary right-of-way for that, plus 22 million for construction," Warren said.

However, Perry is not shying away from the cost.

"I want the county to begin a conscious, deliberate focus on putting those dollars toward those road projects that way," Perry said.

Bryant said the district can help.

"We have land in front of highway that the district will donate. We are just doing everything we can, I don't know where else to turn, so we will keep fighting," Bryant said.

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