Our county on the move
Commissioner David Magness recently made the observation that Lake Ray Hubbard and Interstate 30 are extremely important to Rockwall County: We are defined by our beautiful lake – and if I-30 didn’t go through here, Rockwall County wouldn’t be what it is today.
The Texas Department of Public Safety agrees with his statement, especially the importance of I-30 to its major transportation plan. I-30 through Rockwall County will be reconstructed first before two other sections of the project.
I invited Commissioner David Magness to contribute his vast knowledge about transportation projects to this column. He is the leader of our county Planning Consortium for transportation, so he is our “go to man” for information!
The other two areas scheduled for improvement extend from the end of our project west to Dallas and the end of our project east to Texarkana.
Commissioner Magness said TxDOT is doing the Rockwall project first because traffic is heavy enough, noting that there are 60,000 cars a day passing between Ridge Road and SH-205.
He and I both want to assure residents that the I-30 $750 million project will have no toll components! Running from Bass Pro Drive to FM 2642, the road will be widened to eight main lanes east and west bound and widened to six lanes from SH 205 to FM 264 (which is just east of the Hunt County line). Four east and west bound frontage roads will be constructed/reconstructed (two lanes in either direction) including new frontage road bridge structures across the lake. Specifically, for Rockwall, the project scope includes the I-30 entrance ramp between Horizon and FM 740 with a new westbound entrance ramp. A public meeting is expected to be held in November, and let date is projected for December 2021.
Commissioner Magness and I agree that of equal importance to the county and its residents is the State Highway 205 project, because, as he said, the state road is much needed by the county and those that travel through it because it stretches directly through our hometown.
A route for SH-205 has not been decided, but a well-attended public meeting was held in Rockwall and a second meeting in Terrell so Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials could hear from residents. It is expected to be decided this month. Currently under consideration is the potential to bring John King Blvd. up to state standards so it would become SH-205, thus taking it around the City of Rockwall and out of the center of our historic downtown. That route would do a lot to lessen truck traffic through the county plus John King is in good condition, and the City of Rockwall already owns the right-of-way. That would return Goliad Street currently designated as SH-205 to the City of Rockwall.
The $200 million project would involve widening the state road from a two-lane rural to four lanes urban-divided with allowance for an ultimate six lanes. It is too costly for the county to pay for its portion of the project now – but officials are talking about dividing it into two phases. One phase would run from Terrell to FM-549, and the other phase from FM-549 to Lavon. Already the state is doing schematics and engineering for the project. Let date is anticipated to be February 2021.
Proposition 7, approved by voters in November 2015 provided funding to begin work on these and other state road projects in our area and around the state.
We are proud that there is an incredible relationship between TxDOT and Rockwall County, and that we have worked together with all the cities’ officials to have a unified transportation system. We’re also very proud of the vision and teamwork there is between the county and each of its cities as we all acted as one in prioritization of projects.
Over the next few months we will work with engineering firms for the projects and discuss phasing. I-30 must be a user friendly improvement project – that is a priority. We expect negative economic impact to be minimal.
These two major projects and the other road projects planned will greatly help relieve our transportation concerns. If you have further questions about these or other road projects, please give my office or Commissioner Magness a call.